Vegan cheese

Vegan cheese is a non-dairy or plant cheese analogue aimed at vegans and other people who want to avoid animal products.[1] As with plant milk, vegan cheese can be made from seeds, such as sesame and sunflower; nuts, such as cashew,[2] pine nut, and almond;[3] and soybeans, peanuts, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, tapioca,[4] and rice, among other ingredients. Vegan cheese is cholesterol-free and may be a good source of protein.[5]


Non-dairy cheese originated from China in the 16th century, made with fermented tofu or whole soy[6]. The product became commercially available in the 1980s[7], under brands 'Daiya' and 'Follow Your Heart'[8]. These initial products were lower quality than regular cheese, exhibiting a waxy, chalky or plastic-like texture[9].

In the early 1990s, the only brand of vegan cheese available in the United States was Soymage.[10] Since then, the variety and taste of vegan cheese have improved significantly.[7][10]


As of 2018, the current market for vegan cheese continues to grow and develop on a global scale. This market increase can be seen directly in regions within the United States and Canada. The growth can also be seen reaching all the way to market economies across the world in places such as China, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, and Brazil. According to TechNavio[11], Europe had the greatest market share of 43%, followed by North America, APAC, South America and MEA.

According to the Plant Based Food Association, the US market is anticipated to reach 4 billion in sales by 2024[12]. The expansion is driven by the increased inclination towards plant based proteins, rising urban populations and greater preference towards international foods[13][14]. Multiple chains are therefore expanding their geographical presence within specialty stores and supermarkets, to fuel the anticipated growth during the forecast period[15].

The more popular types of vegan cheese being manufactured, distributed, and produced through this market are those mimicking Mozzarella, Parmesan, Cheddar, Gouda, and Cream Cheese dairy based cheeses. These vegan cheeses are most popularly being applied to the general area of food itself, be it via restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, or personal cultivation. Vegan cheese is expanding and projected to continue to grow greatly into the mid 2020s.[16][17]

Prominent vendors

The Vegan Cheese market is currently dominated by Bute Islands Ltd, Gardener Cheese Company, GreenSpace Brands through ‘Go Veggie’ [18], Ostuka Holdings Co. Ltd through ‘Daiya Cheese’ [19] and Violife. The aforementioned vendors primarily dominate the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada[20].

Other companies have made strategic acquisitions in an attempt to infiltrate the market. Most notably, Miyoko has partnered with Nestle [21] and Field Roast with Essen Foods [22].

The largest Australian supermarket retailers of Woolworths and Coles are further dominated by MyLife's Bio Cheese and Sheese [23][24].


In February 2019, a Vancouver, British Columbia vegan cheese shop, Blue Heron Creamery, was ordered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to stop calling their products cheese as it was 'misleading' to consumers, despite the Creamery stating that their cheese was always labelled as "dairy-free" and "plant-based."[25] The CFIA later reversed the rejection and stated that they have no objection to the Creamery using the nomenclature “100% dairy-free plant-based cheese” provided that "it is truthful".[26]

In the same month, a Brixton vegan cheese shop, La Fauxmagerie, was ordered by Dairy UK to stop describing products as cheese because it 'misleads shoppers'. Sisters Rachel and Charlotte Stevens, owners of the cheese shop, stated that it is not misleading as their "products were clearly marked as dairy-free."[27]

In August 2019, Botany International Foods recalled Naturli' and Funky Fields' Organic Spreads after undeclared allergens were found in the contents. The Australian Food Standards Authority reported traces of milk, in the form of whey protein[28].


Common Vegan Cheese sources include soy, almond and rice milk, in addition to other milk alternatives[29]. Although, a difficult challenge for food scientists is to create vegan cheese that melts and stretches like dairy cheese. Dairy cheese, and many lactose-free cheese analogues, melt and stretch because of the protein casein, which is a milk protein and therefore not vegan, so food scientists use a "blend of gums, protein, solids and fats" to attempt to duplicate the mouthfeel and melt of dairy cheese.[30] A project called Real Vegan Cheese aims to solve this difficulty by making cheese with casein produced by yeast rather than by cows. This cheese would have real casein, but would be vegan because the casein would not be animal-derived.[31]

Nutritionally, vegan cheese contains lower amounts of cholesterol in comparison to dairy cheese[32], reducing fatty buildups in arteries and decreasing an individual’s risk of heart disease and stroke[33].


Some of the success in the vegan cheese market can be attributed to the continuing development of plant based proteins in substitution for cow’s milk among dairy products. Plant based proteins or vegetable proteins are derived from edible sources of protein such as soybeans. These proteins are used to help mimic texture and overall structure of the food product they are attempting to replicate in a non-dairy version. Plant based proteins are partly responsible for vegan cheeses not being able to imitate the stretching and melting property that dairy cheeses possess.[34]

As of 2018, there are a few different approaches to making vegan cheese, but one of the more intricate and scientific processes involves fermentation. In this approach the cheese maker would typically start with some type of tree nut and allow the desired amount of nuts to soak in a small amount of water for about 36 hours. The soaking of the raw nuts allows bacteria to develop and then ferment. The natural sugars produced by the tree nut and the bacterial development are how the fermentation happens. The length of time involved in the aforementioned fermentation is what gives vegan cheese its variance in tangy flavor.[35]


  1. Dixie Mahy, Miyoko Schinner, Artisan Vegan Cheese, Book Publishing Company, 2013, p. v.
  2. Stepkin, Kay (16 January 2013). "Vegan cheese replaces lingering brie craving: Vegan brie takes just minutes of actual work". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  3. Buren, Alex Van (29 March 2018). "What Is Vegan Cheese Exactly—and Should You Be Eating It?". Health. Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018. Those looking to emulate the creamy texture and saltiness of real cheese tend to find themselves reaching for cashews, both at restaurants and at home. [...] But several other nuts can be transformed into vegan 'cheese'—what Keenan calls 'nutcheese'—such as almonds and pine nuts, among others.
  4. Moreau, Elise. "What in the World is Vegan Cheese, Anyway? Can it Actually Replace 'Real' Cheese?". Foodie Buzz. Organic Authority. Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018. Depending on the brand and recipe that's used, vegan cheese can be made from soy protein (used in shiny, slick, rubbery varieties), solidified vegetable oil (like coconut, palm, or safflower) nutritional yeast, thickening agar flakes, nuts (including cashews, macadamias, and almonds), tapioca flour, natural enzymes, vegetable glycerin, assorted bacterial cultures, arrowroot, and even pea protein.
  5. Nutritional value of Toffuti mozzarella. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: USDA Branded Food Products Database. Accessed 02/16/2018
  6. Kanner, Ellen (Spring 2019). "The Cult and Culture of Vegan Cheese". Holistic Primary Care. 20 (1): 21-22.
  7. "The Evolution of Vegan Cheese". Fresh n' Lean. 22 June 2015. Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  8. Kanner, Ellen (Spring 2019). "The Cult and Culture of Vegan Cheese". Holistic Primary Care. 20 (1): 21-22.
  9. "The Evolution of Vegan Cheese - Fresh n' Lean". Organic Meal Delivery Service | Healthy Diet | Fresh n' Lean. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  10. Winograd, Jennifer; Winograd, Nathan (15 August 2011). "A Guide to Vegan Cheese". All American Vegan. Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  11. Research Ltd., Infiniti (2019). "Global vegan cheese market 2019-2023". TechNavio: 129.
  12. "2018 U.S. Retail Sales Data for Plant-Based Foods". Plant Based Foods Association. Plant Based Foods Association. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  13. Research Ltd., Infiniti (2019). "Global vegan cheese market 2019-2023". TechNavio: 129.
  14. "Artisanal vegan cheese comes into its own". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  15. Research Ltd., Infiniti (2019). "Global vegan cheese market 2019-2023". TechNavio: 129.
  16. "Vegan Cheese Market 2018 – Global Sales,Price,Revenue,Gross Margin and Market Share - Press Release - Digital Journal". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  17. "Vegan Cheese Market 2018 | Industry Key Players, Growth, Trends, Analysis & Forecast to 2025". Amazing Newshub. 29 October 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  18. "GreenSpace Brands Announces Acquisition of US Based Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Owners of the Go Veggie Brand". Ciston PR Newswire. PR Newswire Association. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  19. "Vegan Cheese Company Daiya Acquired By International Healthcare Giant For A Staggering $325.5 Million". Plant Based News. A Maven Channel. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  20. Research Ltd., Infiniti (2019). "Global vegan cheese market 2019-2023". TechNavio: 129.
  21. "What if David And Goliath Both Get To Win In The Food Fight?". Forbes. Forbes Media. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  22. "Plant-Based Brand Field Roast Sees Sales Skyrocket By 81% This Year". Plant Based News. A Maven Channel. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  23. "Vegan". Woolworths. Woolworths Group Limited. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  24. "Dairy Free Search". Coles. Coles. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  25. "Vancouver vegan cheese shop told they can no longer use the word 'cheese' in packaging". Global News. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  26. "CFIA to permit Blue Heron Creamery to use the word 'cheese' on label | Dished". Daily Hive. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  27. "Britain's first all-vegan cheese shop causes a stink as dairy industry demands it changes branding". City A.M. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  28. "Naturli' and Funky Fields". Food Standards Australia & New Zealand. Food Standards Australia & New Zealand. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  29. Research Ltd., Infiniti (2019). "Global vegan cheese market 2019-2023". TechNavio: 129.
  30. Estabrook, Rachel (30 April 2012). "Cracking The Code: Making Vegan Cheese Taste Cheesier". The Salt. NPR. Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018. But to make a true vegan cheese substitute, you can't use casein. So [Jonathan] Gordon's latest challenge has been to make a cheese that is completely free of animal byproducts but still retains the properties we love about cheese. 'The skill of the formulator is to use exactly the right amounts and blend of gums, protein, solids and fats to get a desirable, cheese-like bite and mouth feel while achieving a realistic melt (this is very difficult),' he tells The Salt. Those gums replace the casein, working as 'emulsifiers'and 'stabilizers' to hold the other ingredients together, according to Crowe. (The other ingredients include a protein base like soy or rice, water, oil, starches, flavors and colors.)
  31. Messina, Ginny (28 September 2014). "Real Vegan Cheese and Real Nutrition Science". The Vegan RD. Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018. One of those innovations in the works is for Real Vegan Cheese, using the milk protein casein but without the input of a cow. It boggles the mind (or at least my mind) but biotech researchers are working on it right now in labs in Oakland and Sunnyvale, California.
  32. "Control Your Cholestrol". American Heart Association. American Heart Association. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  33. Jeske, Stephanie; Zannini, Emanuele; Arendt, Elke K. (1 August 2018). "Past, present and future: The strength of plant-based dairy substitutes based on gluten-free raw materials". Food Research International. 110: 42–51. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2017.03.045. hdl:10468/7832. ISSN 0963-9969. PMID 30029705.
  34. "The Vegan Way". scienceandfooducla. 26 September 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2018.

Collection of primary sources

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