This delicious, flavorful sweet potato cheese is firm and sliceable. It’s slightly similar in taste and texture to Daiya but less expensive and is made of commonly available ingredients.
Why Vegan Cheese?
Cheese could possibly be the worst amongst the animal-based foods. The health, environmental, and ethical consequences are enormous … and so totally unnecessary.
“I’d go vegan but I just can’t give up cheese!”
How many times have we heard this argument? Most people find dairy cheese tasty and creamy. And why not? It’s mostly fat and salt, which evolution has ensured we humans find appetizing. But did you know that dairy contains chemicals that are mild opiates? No kidding. We can literally become “addicted to cheese.”
The Problem(s) With Dairy Cheese and Why Plant-Based is (Way) Better
Chloé Jo Davis, the founder of Girlie Girl Army and a vegan mama who’s nursed for 8.5 years, says, ” I find dairy to be the biggest offense we make against animals. Keep them pregnant/ steal their babies/ don’t let them nurse, and then steal their milk? It’s asinine and vicious. If anyone actually saw the mechanisms they put on the calves noses to keep them from drinking their Mama’s Milk, they’d go vegan on the spot – or should. Going dairy-free is the easiest of all vegan switchovers, anyone who needs help can always reach out to me.”
Most importantly, the animal ethics issue is a big one when to comes to the dairy industry. Dairy cows and their babies suffer horribly for both milk and cheese. What most people don’t know is what Pamelyn Ferdin talks about in her essay, Every Glass of Milk or Slice of Cheese Supports the Veal Industry. I drive past a dairy farm regularly and the rows of veal crates are a heartbreaking reminder that it’s not just the cows that are harmed.
Not only is dairy cheese unkind, but it’s also incredibly unhealthy. Not surprisingly, all dairy contains copious amounts of cholesterol and trans fats. It may also contain a variety of contaminants, ranging from aluminum to intestinal bacteria and parasites.
Thankfully, there are lots of yummy vegan options that don’t hurt anyone … including yourself.
Store Bought Vegan Cheese
There are a lot more choices today than when I went vegan 11 years ago. The soy cheese I ordered from my food co-op left a lot to be desired.
Chloé Jo says about commercially available vegan cheeses, “Treeline and Dr. Cow cashew cheeses are truly divine. Simple, clean, and tasty – plus protein packed. I’m psyched to try my friend Josh Kather’s new cheese coming out called Rind Affleur. I love Chao for a grilled cheese, and Miyoko’s for a Caprese! I do end up buying lot’s of Daiya since I have 3 kids who want a ‘cheeseburger’ here and there.”
Another Vegan Activist and Mom
Marisa Miller Wolfson, longtime vegan and film director of the documentary Vegucated, says, “When I actually did give up cheese in 2002 the vegan options were very limited. Now, though, there are so many excellent options that you don’t have to miss it anymore. I currently have a delicious stash of Miyoko’s cheeses in my fridge. They’re so tangy and creamy. They remind me of European cheeses I used to spread on good bread at my grandmother’s house in Germany growing up.”
Marisa is a mom as well. She says, “My son loves Treeline classic cashew cheese on crackers, and my daughter wants Daiya’s shredded cheeses on everything. It’s super kid-friendly and our go-to cheese for birthday party pizzas. I’m really excited to try the new gourmet RIND cheeses created by my friend Joshua Katcher and Dina DiCenso.”
For me? I love vegan cheeses! Miyoko’s is a favorite for me and lots of other vegans I know. I’m also all over the Daiya cheese, which is getting easy to find. Vegan Gourmet from Follow Your Heart is delectable, too. However, vegan cheeses can be hard to find in some areas. The prices are pretty reasonable for plant-based cheeses, though, with Daiya running about $5 for an 8 oz pkg and others are in that price range as well.
As delicious as those are, and I highly recommend them to anyone desiring a plant-based cheese, I wanted to make my own.
DIY Vegan Cheese
Most vegan cheeses made at home use nuts, and are delicious. Some of us (ahem, me) don’t digest nuts very well. The cheeses I’ve seen so far without nuts use agar to make them firm. Agar is made from red seaweed. I’ve got nothing against seaweed, either. I love Nori. But there’s something about agar that just immediately sets off my gag reflex.
So, my quest was for a vegan, nut free, agar free, but also firm and sliceable cheese. With a few failures under my belt, I finally came up with something close to what I was aiming for.
Sweet Potato Cheese to the rescue!
This vegan cheese is fairly simple to make and results in a firm but reasonably melty product. Plus, the sweet potato makes it just a little bit sweet, which I love.
Sweet potato cheese takes a little bit of attention, but not really that much time. The coconut oil helps make it firm and sliceable once it chills for a bit in the fridge.
And finally, it passed the taste test with flying colors. and was deliciousness in a grilled cheese.
Sweet Potato Cheese
This vegan and plant-based cheese uses commonly found ingredients and is easy to make!
- 1/3 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato
- 3/4 cup unsweetened rice or hemp milk unflavored
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch Bob's Mill has a good one
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 1/4 cup garbanzo beans
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 1/3 cup refined coconut oil not unrefined, it tastes like coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon annatto seeds
Line a small bowl, loaf pan, or tub with plastic wrap and set aside.
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process for 2-3 minutes until very smooth.
Pour the mixture into a heavy saucepan. Heat to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium and stir constantly for about 4-5 minutes until very thick and stringy.
Pour into the lined bowl and cover with more plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
Slice and serve.
About the Awesome Vegans in This Post
Chloé Jo Davis
is the founder of GirlieGirlArmy.com: Your Glamazon Guide To Conscious Living, an award-winning vegan site that’s been around for 25 years. She’s often in the media and in print espousing her funny-girl-with-a-bone-to-pick expertise in conscious living, eco style, veganism, animal rescue, sustainability, attachment parenting, and breastfeeding. Regularly featured on radio, print, and tv discussing her favorite lines, tips, and musts, Chloé lives with her husband, rescued pets, and 3 boys under 8 in NYC.
Connect with Chloé at:
Marisa Miller Wolfson
is a food activist and vegan who has organized roughly 70 grassroots workshops and screenings of award-winning documentaries about healthy, humane, eco-friendly eating all across North America. She’s the writer and director of the 2011 documentary Vegucated and, in my opinion, a fantastic cake decorator!
Connect with Marisa at: