Is vegan cheese good for you?

Is vegan cheese good for you?

Vegan cheese can be a good alternative to dairy cheese, with no carcinogenic animal proteins, growth hormones and saturated animal fat

Personal perspective. Vegan boursin, feta and cheddar cheese in recycled jars. Raw fruit, berries, vegetables, whole grain bread and crackers on handmade reclaimed wood serving board.Cheese. Credit: Getty Images

Cheese is a fan-favourite worldwide. Those who choose a vegan diet, or whose allergies make it necessary, often find themselves missing cheese. Many who forgo it report that, the taste and texture of regular cheese makes it a difficult food to replicate. So, if you’ve been wondering about nut-based or soy-based cheese alternatives, it’s worth considering both health and taste.

Vegan cheeses are completely animal-free and made using vegetable proteins. Usually they’re made from soy, nuts and vegetable oils. You can also find cheeses that derive from agar, tapioca, peas and arrowroot.

“It’s a pretty lengthy process to make vegan cheese. It takes approximately five days to make a small batch. We make cashew and peanut based cheese. So, we first start by soaking the nuts for a couple of days, that is what forms the base for the cheese. From there it’s a simple process of flavouring it with your choice of seasoning and letting the mixture set into a cheese-like texture. We don’t add any preservatives or chemicals,” Aditya Fernandez, owner of Angelo Cheese, told Metrolife.

But often that is not where the ingredients list ends. The ingredient list on some vegan cheeses may raise the eyebrows of those trying their best to eat clean and minimally processed foods. Many contain added starches and thickeners such as carrageenan and xanthan gum.

“Vegan cheese is an attempt at replicating regular dairy-based cheese. To achieve that taste and texture, often many preservatives are added and the product undergoes a lot of processing. This is not good for your body. Vegan cheese might be low in fat content but lacks proteins and other important nutrients. If you choose to consume vegan cheese, do your research and find products that are organic and minimally processed,” says Arfa Samreen, nutritionist and senior dietician.

Vegan cheese is getting more popular in Bengaluru with every passing day. With ‘desi’ brands like Angelo and Live Yum getting more popular among locals, even non-vegans are gravitating towards dairy free cheese options, believing it to be a healthier and weight-friendly option.

“There is no harm in consuming cheese every once in a while. This is just a myth. A regular person with no underlying health conditions can consume dairy based cheese in small amounts up to three times a week. The same goes for vegan cheese too. It is still a processed product, so it’s best to not overdo it and limit its consumption to a maximum of three times a week in small portions, “said Arfa.

Vegan cheese is a safe and healthy option if it is minimally processed and preservative-free.

Where to find vegan cheese in city?

Vegan cheese can be found in supermarkets like Nature’s Basket, Foodhall and Namdhari’s across the city. While the imported European/American brands can be quite heavy on the pocket, you can try budget-friendly Bengaluru based brands like Millie’s, Angelo and Live Yum. These brands can be found online and in various flea markets popping up across the city.

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