Dairy-adverse eaters no doubt understand how difficult it is to find a truly cheese-like vegan cheese. But why is it so hard? And have any food companies actually achieved it? Cheese is a natural, complex wonder—or so says food scientist Kantha Shelke in a recent NPR article. "It melts, spreads and becomes creamy... To try to duplicate that is to say we're duplicating nature." The difficulty comes in trying to replicate casein, the protein that allows real cheese to spread and melt.
So in lieu of casein, vegan cheese developers are constantly testing new formulas to achieve the "cheesiest" bite. Formulas usually include some combination of gums (like carrageenan and xanthan gum, which work as emulsifiers and stabilizers), proteins (usually from a base like soy or rice), and other solids and fats, all with the goal of preventing the vegan cheese from separating and producing the watery, oily pool that's it's so often associated with.
Is there a vegan cheese out there that truly replicates regular cheese? Not yet, but apparently Diaya Foods' vegan cheese comes pretty close.
Read More: Cracking The Code: Making Vegan Cheese Taste Cheesier at NPR's The Salt
Related: Vegan Cheese: A Cheesemonger's Report
(Image: Vegan Essentials)