All vegans have an Achilles heel—a forbidden food that constantly taunts, teases, and tests one’s plant-based perseverance. For many of us, that food is cheese. Whether it’s sandwiched between two pieces of bread and grilled to perfection, melted on nachos, or layered on a slice of pizza, the dairy delight is an indelible staple of the American meal, and its absence is often felt. Fortunately, 2013 has been a good year for vegan cheese fiends with a slew of new products released. Here are five brands that will surely satiate your cravings.
1. Kite Hill
Despite the recent opening of his Mediterranean-style restaurant Crossroads, chef-to-the-stars Tal Ronnen has found the time to craft a line of artisanal cheese. Kite Hill is a nut milk-based culinary wonder that has the buttery consistency of brie, and is sold in a casually refined puck-shaped packaging. Kite Hill will complement any cracker you pair it with and is best served at your next chic dinner party.
Available flavors: Casuccio (soft and creamy), Costanoa (semi-soft with paprika and fennel), and White Alder (ripe and soft)
Where to get your hands on it: Recently Kite Hill made its way into select California Whole Foods locations, but we predict public demand will make it a national phenomenon.
Pricing: $14 to $15 per 6-ounce wheel
VN testimonial: “The Cassucio was a really smooth, fresh mozzarella-style cheese. It would go perfectly in a Caprese salad. Even my omnivorous boyfriend said that if I’d told him it was fresh mozzarella, he’d have believed it.” —Editorial Director Elizabeth Castoria
2. Daiya Cream Cheese Style Spreads
Daiya has become a household name in the cruelty-free cheese game, with its cheddar, pepper jack, and mozzarella shreds found in vegan eateries and kitchen refrigerators across the country. Now the brand that melted oh-so-perfectly on your pizza and nachos will also grace your bagels with a new cream cheese spread.
Available flavors: Plain, Strawberry, Chive & Onion
Where to get your hands on it: Will be available this summer throughout the country, wherever Daiya products are sold.
Pricing: $5 to $6 per 8-ounce container
VN testimonial: “The new Daiya Chive & Onion cream cheese is amazing. Great texture and super flavorful. We couldn’t stop eating it.” —Assistant Editor Hilary Pollack
3. Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Shreds
Follow Your Heart, the company responsible for the indelible sandwich staple Vegenaise, recently released its Vegan Gourmet Shreds. This versatile dairy-free delight works on and in everything from simple salads to extravagant tacos. If you have a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich just like Mom used to make, follow your heart to the grocery store and pick up some shreds today.
Available flavors: Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Fiesta Blend
Where to get your hands on it: Gourmet Shreds will be available in supermarkets across the country, by June.
Pricing: $5 per 8-ounce bag
VN testimonial: “The texture and flavor is so close to real cheese, I truly plan on tricking lots of omni friends with these shreds in quesadillas, on pizzas—everywhere!” —Online Editor Anna Peraino
4. Heidi Ho Veganics Chia Cheeze Sauce
Heidi Ho Veganics’ new chia cheese spread makes preparing a plate of nachos quick and easy—no melting required! The planted-based alternative has the pungent cheese taste of dairy-derived sauces, but is packed with vegetables like carrots, onions, and red peppers. Mother Nature will thank you for choosing Heidi Ho—the Oregon operation uses locally sourced ingredients and organic practices for an all-around eco-friendly treat. Also, one dollar of every product sold gets donated to the Out to Pasture Farm Sanctuary.
Where to get your hands on it: Available at Whole Foods locations throughout the Pacific Northwest region. You can also order it online at heidihoveganics.com.
Pricing: $6 to $6.50 per 10-ounce jar
VN testimonial: “Perfect for movie night nachos—salty, cheesy, guilt-free goodness.” —Editorial Assistant Melissa Nguyen
5. Dairy Tree Foods
This much-anticipated pick is still in spring training as its creators wade through the research and development process. Having garnered more than 13,000 likes on its Facebook page, Dairy Tree has already amassed a following of hungry hopefuls.
Available flavors: Dairy Tree has been in the test kitchen experimenting with everything from mozzarella to bleu cheese.
Where to get your hands on it: Stay tuned!
Pricing: Stay tuned!
VN testimonial: Colleen Holland got the chance to sample the goods at Dairy Tree’s launch party, and according to her, “It’s a serious game changer. The meltable blue cheese wedge and chunky blue cheese dressing stole my heart!”
Photo Credit: Kite Hill