Finding Vegan Cheese and other Dairy Replacements

Vegan Cheese! Our saviour….

For many a vegetarian, switching to a vegan diet has become undone at the thought of cheese. I bet you didn’t think that this innocent little beauty could be addictive at all did you? Here’s why:

Milk contains morphine.

Yes, you certainly read that right.

Morphine.

Now what you are probably wondering is how on Earth did morphine make it’s way into milk?

vegan cheese and other dairy replacements

Well, morphine is produced naturally within cows and humans. It produces a calming effect and is what bonds mothers to their young bambinos. Morphine is an opiate and as I’m sure you’re quite aware, highly addictive. Milk derived from any other species contains a protein called casein. It is found in larger doses in cows and only in very small quantities in humans, as cows need way more casein than us humans do, in fact the make-up of their milk is totally different from ours and we find it difficult to digest. 

So what happens is Casein disassembles during the digestion process and releases a whole bunch of opiates that go by the name casomorphins. One cup of milk has roughly six grams of casein in it. Skim milk has slightly more than that. Now during cheese production, casein & fat become highly concentrated.

Let’s say you have a super awesome microscope to closely gaze at these casein molecules. What you would find is what looks like a long chain of beads. These beads are made up of amino acids; which are building blocks that bind together to make up all of the proteins in your body. So when you reach for that glass of milk or dig into that block of cheese, your stomach acid and intestinal bacteria cut the casein molecular chains into strands of different lengths. One of these strands, made up of just five amino acids, packs a punch of roughly one-tenth the pain-killing ability of morphine. These opiates are not only addictive, but can cause constipation, just like other opiates.

So if you’re a massive cheese lover, and just can’t seem to give this yummy goo up, now you know why. And perhaps in the knowing it might make it easier to eliminate the dairy version from your diet.

Now giving up cheese can certainly be a challenge when adopting a vegan diet, but for all the wrong reasons. I say this because what flashes in your mind is that by going vegan you have to give it up in the first place. No more yummy pizza, no more gooey cheesy melt toasted sandwiches, no more cheese and crackers. So not true! There are several tasty vegan cheese alternatives available, including substitutes for many other dairy products, which are all dairy free and with no animal rennet. They will surprise and delight you and your taste buds.

Finding Vegan Cheeses

When going on your first vegan cheese mission at the local supermarket or café, you will need to take a look at the labels of the cheeses in the vegetarian section as there are a couple of ingredients that you need to be aware of to avoid.

  • Casein: Derived from milk
  • Animal Rennet: Made from the stomach of cows (this is also derived from plants but it will say so on the list of ingredients)

Here's my tips on finding vegan cheeses and some selected brands that I use in my cooking in everything from lasagne and pasta sauce to sandwiches and pizzas..


Other Dairy Replacements

Replacing dairy foods is easy with the range of delicious dairy alternatives available. If you are a devoted milk drinker you just need to find the alternative that appeals to your taste buds, and give yourself a little while to get used to the different flavours.

When I first became pure vegetarian all those years ago, all that was available was this powder soy milk that you had to mix with water. It was pretty ordinary to drink. But these days there are some fantastic brands out there delivering some really quality tasting milk alternatives.

Pure Vegan Milks

There is such a wide variety as well. You can choose from soy milk, almond milk, oat milk and rice milk to name a few.

You can even go so far as to make them yourself if you have the right kind of food processor or juicer. In fact making your own milk can sometimes really blow you away. They’re tasty, healthy and wholesome.

If you are just starting off, Soy Milk is usually the easiest and closest to the flavour of cows milk.


dairy free soy milk

Vegan Yoghurts

Yoghurts are readily available in soy alternatives and there are a couple that really do taste yummy. Although it has to be said that there are some that don’t taste good at all, but just remember: You are changing your lifestyle for the better so be patient, and keep trying different kinds. There is bound to be one out there that hits the button for you.


Ice Cream

Now comes to my favourite part…. ice cream.

Whenever I go to a restaurant I usually always check out the desert menu first. Yes I have a bit of a sweet tooth, but who doesn’t? No longer do you need to travel the vegan jungle on your own without delicious ice cream. No more does your freezer feel like it’s missing an important ingredient on a hot summers day. Vegan ice cream is both available to buy or you can get creative and make your own, or try out a sorbet – perfect for a scorchin’ summer’s day!

Here are some of my all-time favourites

  • Booja Booja Ice cream
  • So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream
  • Weiss Sorbet
  • Swedish Glace Ice Cream
  • Rice Milk Ice cream


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