While this site is primarily dedicated to our travel photography, I want to begin using it to talk about how our vegan lifestyle impacts how we travel, and to spotlight the great vegan spots we find along the way. In that vein, I’ll be including a vegan food travel review for each of our trips! For those new to veganism, please enjoy the below cheese reviews I compiled for a friend cutting out dairy. These represent my personal opinions of the currently available cheese alternatives in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton metro area and are not sponsored.
Let me start with my credentials. I ate cheese for 30.5 years. At the age of 26 I realized cheese could be even more delicious than just cheddars and mozzarellas and learned from my bff to peruse the cheese counters like a sommelier, though later limited by my husband with a $10/wk budget after it became apparent I could not be satiated by a single block. My favorite was cave-aged guyere, but I didn’t discriminate – I would devour just about any other I could get my hands on, the stinkier the better. Cheese boards became a requirement at every eat-out, and I sought out rarer and rarer kinds. Cheese was life.
Enter the vegan. I’ve been ecstatically, happily vegan now for 2.5 years. I knew the hardest part would be giving up cheese. Initially I struggled with how to feed the gaping cheese-shaped hole in my heart. The options out there were far cries from what I was used to, and after wasting hope and money on home-made cheeze recipies and Daiya, I had basically given up. Then things started to change. More brands released products, formulas improved, and I found recipies that worked. Sidenote: My nearly constant UTI’s vanished completely a week after I stopped dairy cheesing and haven’t come back since. Like literally not one in 2.5 years – it’s insane.
I am excited to say that my cheese needs are currently sated, and if I lived closer to a supplier of my favorites I would be downright overwhelmed, but it’s probably for the best for my waist and wallet that I do not. So that you too can feel confident about a dairy-free cheezful existence, enjoy the fruits of the last few years of my research below. I still have a lot to try, so I’ll update as access to more data (cheez) allows.
Reviews by Brand
Daiya ★★☆☆☆ (2 stars)
Daiya is the most readily available cheese option for many vegans out there. You can find it in almost every major grocery store. When restaurants get a kick to try adding vegan cheese to the menu, nine times out of ten they go Daiya, presumably because it’s the easiest to get from their distribution channels. The problem is, when you first go vegan you REMEMBER what cheese tasted like and Daiya is a rude rude introduction to vegan cheese. Before you try it, come to my house and let me make you a cheeseboard so you don’t abandon veganism and run for the hills. Having tried Daiya first as a fledgling baby deer vegan, I was fearful that my only cheese experiences were going to be paired with a plastic chemical taste. The cheese melts fine, but when it’s hot and you take a bite, it both scorches your mouth roof and embeds itself behind your teeth like cement in the same second. Since originally writing this, I was encouraged by my vegan community (North Texas Vegans on Facebook) to try the newer Cutting Board Shreds product. I will say, they were not horrible. In fact we found them to be similar to So Delicious’s shreds, and used them with success on several quesadillas. You can find Daiya cheese done right in these local Denton restaurants: Spiral Diner (they modify it), J&J’s Pizza, Mellow Mushroom, Milpa, and Seven Mile Cafe.
Follow Your Heart ★★★★☆ (4 stars) (no cashews! no soy!)
This was the first great cheese I found, and thank goodness I did. Nachos, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches.. all my old faves became options again. Have you ever cried while eating a bean & cheese burrito? Right, yeah.. me neither.. Available sometimes at Kroger, but definitely at Whole Foods and Sprouts. You’ll want to avoid their bagged gourmet shreds and any of their blocks that say “gourmet” because for some reason those are kind of soggy and gross while the new formulas, linked below, are perfectly cheesy in both taste and texture. The only reason a star is removed is because the mozz really just doesn’t melt together like a good mozz should. The shred shape stays as you bake it, and trust me no matter how long you burn your pizza, it’s not going to come together into a gooey hunk like you want it to. Still delicious, still worth every penny of the $5 per block. Since the blocks are so hard to find these days (y tho) I buy the sliced versions and carefully shred them – works like a charm. My mom used the pepperjack in a casserole and said it came out amazing. Love love FYH!
(everything up until you see “Shreds” is amazing – even the Parm! – rest is nope)
Miyoko’s Kitchen ★★★★☆ (4 stars) (cashew-based)
Stock is typically the only issue with this brand, but when you can find it, it’s really really good. Natural Grocers & Whole Foods are the only places I’ve found it, but lately I call ahead and make someone go look with their eyes before I drive to Highland Village. Four stars because some of them are a little aggressively flavored for my personal taste (looking at you, Double Cream Chive). The real MVP’s of Miyokos are the cheese wheels for cheese boarding and the Mozz for pizza-ing. Pro-tip vegan secret: get a Papa John’s pizza, no cheese, double veggies, extra garlic dipping sauce. Bring that baby home, wrap some foil around the crust, cover it in shredded Mozz and broil that sucker. You’re WELCOME. Seriously – that Mozz has been used to make fried mozzarella sticks (Vegan Zombie) and you can shred and melt it on anything for an incredible mozzarella experience. On the cheese wheel front, I hate smoked flavors of any kind of cheese (sry not sry) but do really love the double cream Garlic Herb and the Sharp Farmhouse. Stack up some baguette slices and cut some fruit and you’ve got yourself a vegan cheese board!
Violife ★★★★★ (5 stars)
The only negative is that it’s not available many places in the US yet. That’s changing, thank goodness. These guys have it figured OUT, at least in my experience so far. We found this in a cute store / deli in Donegal town called Simple Simons. I spied the Parm wedge like a hawk and patted Daniel on the head when he tried to reason with me about how far we were from our listing and refrigeration. (2 hours) I knew it’d be ok. I was right. I didn’t make it out of the store before I’d bitten a hunk out of it like an animal. I probably embarrassed him, eating it with no utensils while we waited for our counter food order to come, but it is seriously the best cheese I’ve eaten since cave-aged gruyere. In fact, it tastes identical. Same texture, same nutty creaminess. I warned him that finding it here was going to be my life’s mission. Oh yes, we had cheddar slices in our sandwiches from Violife as well, also wonderful – very similar to FYH. I am fully confident just based on the parm alone that anything these guys do is 100%. Find some and think of me while you eat it like a squirrel in the parking lot. No shame. #veganlife. Currently available NATIONWIDE at Whole Foods, Rabbit Food Grocery in Austin & El Palote in Dallas.
Kite Hill ★★★★★ (5 stars) Almond Milk Based
Really limited experience with this brand but love it real much. The Ricotta is available at Natural Grocers and it’s basically my chevre replacement now. The first time I found it I ate it with my fingers out of the container on the way home (I have no self-control with cheese). Frickin delicious. We’re going to use it for manicotti soon and I’m so excited. I have also tried their yogurt and it’s my favorite vegan yogurt out there. I want them to make more things for me to eat.
Chao ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Another amazing sliced option, the Creamy Original Chao is my top choice for melting on Beyond Burgers! I love mixing up shreds of it with Follow Your Heart american & making my own little Mexican blend. You can find this delicious friend at Kroger, Whole Foods, and in the Spiral Diner cold cases. It’s a little on the pricier side, but worth it IMO. I’ve enjoyed it sliced on a cheese plate as well, for a milder option. They have a couple other flavors I haven’t ventured to try yet, but mean to soon.
So Delicious ★★★★☆ (4 stars) Different Nut Milks – some are Cashew, some are Almond
Ok this brand in general is pretty amazing, and Daniel disagrees with my “meh” on their cheese shreds. That’s ok, we all have different tastes. I found their cheddar a little over-flavored, so sorrrrrry if I don’t want my cheese to smell like the inside of a bag of nacho cheese doritos. He says they’re great, so maybe give them a try. You can find them in Sprouts for sure, sometimes Natural Grocers, but not sure about anywhere else. While you’re at Sprouts though GET 8 PINTS OF THE BLUEBERRY CARDAMOM ICE CREAM BECAUSE IT IS LIFE. Their yogurts are bomb, their creamers aren’t super creamy but good in a pinch. Miss Cool Whip? No worries – they are one of the best and easiest to find out there.
Treeline Nut Cheese ★★☆☆☆ (2 stars) (cashew-based)
Found and tried a couple of these from Whole Foods and was never impressed. They only had the soft French-Style versions. It’s truthfully been a while, but I had the herb-garlic flavor and it went bad in the fridge from non-use. Not really interested in a hummus textured cheese. Too grainy.
Parmela Aged Nut Cheese ★★☆☆☆ (2 stars) (cashew-based)
Honestly, over-flavored and sandy textured. There was a ton of hype about this brand and neither of the two sliced flavors we tried (white and yellow) were any good. Spoiled in the deli drawer.
Bonus Sections (Specifically for Lisa)
Coffee Creamer Ranking
- https://store.veganessentials.com/cultured-veganbutter-by-miyokos-creamery-p4683.aspx supposedly the best – i’m trying it this week
- https://www.walmart.com/ip/Blue-Bonnet-Lactose-Free-53-Vegetable-Oil-Spread-Sticks-16-oz/39085915 if you can find it, this is our favorite – SO CHEAP
- https://www.earthbalancenatural.com/product/original-buttery-spread/ easy to find but expensive and meh, it’s what we use right now.