Cheese—the number one food the vast majority of non-vegans say they can’t live without. Actually, most vegans today would probably say they still can’t live without it; they just opt for the plant-based versions. Those who have been vegan for awhile tend to have their go-to brand, while new vegans are still on the hunt for the funk. While there are a number of exceptional mainstream plant-based cheese-mongers on the market, these up-and-comers represent a new wave of vegan dairy. They’re bold and adventurous, yet familiar in a sense that they expertly replicate the taste, smell, look, and texture of our favorite dairy cheeses. Pour yourself a glass of red and get your credit card ready; here are nine vegan cheese brands to put on your party list. 


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1. Riverdel Vegan Cheese, New York, NY
Yes, vegan cheese options abound, but more often than not they’re surrounded by an even larger selection of mammal-based cheeses. At Riverdel, vegan is the only option. Step into this intimate boutique cheese shop and enter a wonderland of plant-based cheese, glorious cheese. Order a few wheels to keep at home or sit in for a sandwich or cheese flight tasting. Already addicted? Join the Monthly Cheese Club for one pound (3 wheels) of cheese that you can pick up at the store every month. Out-of-towners can also order select varieties such as the Picante Artisan Cashew Cheese, Heinrich Aged Artisan Cashew Vegan Beer Cheese, and the Truffle Vegan Artisan Cashew Cheese on Vegan Essentials


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2. Herbivorous Butcher, Minneapolis, MN
This brother-and-sister-run company is well known for its vegan meats, but their cheese game is just as strong. In addition to the plant-based steaks, ribs, and deli slices they create, this duo also makes a medley of “cheese-free cheeses” from American to Swiss to havarit. Visit the Minneapolis-based deli or food truck for a monstrous meat-and-cheese sandwich (so good they’ve been featured on the hit Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives); order a few blocks online (they ship nationwide); or visit the Partners page to find these products in your neck of  the woods (the company distributes to vegan and health food stores from California to New York). 


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3. Rind, New York, NY
For the funk-seekers, cheese connoisseurs, and vegan cheese skeptics, there is Rind. The company worked for years to develop its top-of-the-line product which it claims is “the cheese of the future.” Ironically, the ingredients undergo a primordial process involving a proprietary blend of microbes that break down the fats and proteins to create a vegan cheese unlike any other. This is serious cheese business. Rind is now available within the Riverdel Essex Street Market stall, though the company hopes to expand in the future. 


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4. Pure Abundance, Atlanta, GA
Cheese made with kombucha? Just trust the system—it works. These gourmet cashew-based, probiotic cheeses come in three distinct flavors including Luna (the most mild), Pan (a smokey, sharp, ash-coated variety), and Sol (a versatile cheese sauce that can be used on anything from pasta to nachos). Atlanta locals can find this cheesemonger’s products at Whole Foods, Cultured South, and select restaurants, but they are also available for nationwide shipping online


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5. Vromage, Los Angeles, CA
This vegan cheese is fit for royalty. No, really, the shop is featured in the royal wedding album of the now-Dutchess Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Founder Youseff Fahouri and his shop received a full-page spread in this gilded memoir because of the Dutchess’ fondness (ahem, addiction) for his plant-based products. His camembert, feta varieties, and melty mozzarella have attracted other celebrity clientele including Alicia Silverstone, Jeff Bridges, Al Pacino, and Ellen Degeneres. Stop by the unassuming stripmall shop for a cheese platter or simple yet perfect sandwich—prepared by Fahouri himself—or order online


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6. Jule’s Foods, Davis, CA
Between the dozens of vegan cheese companies, there seems to be a plant-based equivalent of nearly every kind of cheese—except the elusive brie. Jule’s Foods has finally hacked the recipe, and in fact, that’s all they do—luscious, creamy, melty, beautiful vegan brie. The husband-and-wife-run company is small, but they have successfully expanded their coveted brie over the years to two California-based upscale restaurants and multiple independent grocers nationwide. Online shoppers can also add it to their Mlyk Guys virtual cart. Pro tip: spread a bit on jam on the brie, wrap it in puff pastry, and bake it. There is no better dinner party appetizer. 


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7. Nuts for Cheese, multiple locations, Canada
This artisanal vegan cheese company is the Canadian equivalent of America’s Miyoko’s—its beloved by all, headed by a powerhouse vegan ladyboss, and deserves to be prominently featured on your next cheese board. Sold in wedges instead of wheels, look for the Super “Blue” blue cheese marbled with spirulina, the sophisticated Black Garlic coated in a rind of activated charcoal, or the Smoky Artichoke and Herb flavored with lemon pesto and vibrant herbs. Find your new favorite cheese via the company’s store finder


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8. Rebel Cheese, Austin, TX
Locals only—this new vegan deli, cheese, and wine shop opening in late 2019 doesn’t sell its nut-based products online, but the gourmet cheese and assortment of vegan provisions are well worth the trip. The small company makes its own vegan cheeses and will showcase other brands as well—including the popular Portland brand, Vtopian. Expect creative pairings such as a Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Brie; Boursin-Style Garlic & Herb, and Smoked Paprika Cheddar. Let the vegan wine flow and bring on the cheeseboard. 


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9. Parmela Creamery, multiple locations, US
Cultured, aged cashews never tasted so good. The most widely distributed of the bunch, Parmela products are all aged a minimum of 30 days to replicate the subtle funk and umami flavors of dairy cheese. The line includes everything from meltable everyday slices and shreds (cheddar, mozzarella); Block Nutcheeses (havarti dill, cheddar, mozzarella), and Creamy Treenut Cheeses (Kalamata Olive, Orignal, Black Pepper). If that weren’t enough, the brand also offers a variety of Nacho Nutcheeses and creamy Nutcheese Alfredo sauces (the Rose is sublime). Stock your pantry with Parmela by visiting a Whole Foods, Publix, Gelsons, or one of its other natural food store partners


Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.

Photo credit: Rind

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