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Artisanal Non-Dairy Cheese: Why It’s Good for Everyone

A selection of delicious vegan cheese from Austin-based Rebel Cheese, owned by Kirsten Maitland and Fred Zwar.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy non-dairy cheese. You just have to be someone who enjoys good food. And at Cheese Not Cheese, we’re all about sharing good food.

You can call it what you want: vegan cheese, fake cheese, non-dairy cheese… Whatever your preferred name, the lackluster plant based cheeses of yesteryear cannot even compare to this new group of cool kids that we’re calling artisanal non-dairy cheese. These cheeses are anything but fake. They’re a completely new food group created by artisan cheesemakers who follow traditional cheesemaking methods. Plant-based milks are cultured and fermented in much the same way as dairy cheese to produce creamy, silky, and luscious non-dairy cheese with flavors ranging from familiar to new and fantastic!

Trust us, this new breed of artisanal non-dairy cheese is astounding. Many of them are even cave-aged just like dairy cheese. Even acclaimed restaurant critic and writer for the New York Times, Tejal Rao had this to say about her first go-round with a wheel of Barn Cat from vegan cheesemaker, Bo Babaki of Bandit, a Philadelphia-based purveyor of cave-aged cheese, “I was unprepared for the mellow, pleasingly dank flavors of a soft-ripened goat cheese, for the mildly peppery tang, for the dense, luxurious creaminess.”1

Barn Cat is truly in a class of its own with a mix of flavors unlike anything you would expect from a vegan cheese. But Barn Cat isn’t the only player in this new food frontier. Check out our article on the top five vegan cheeses you need on your cheeseboard. You’ll find exquisite varieties of lovingly crafted non-dairy cheese to wow your tastebuds. The best part is they’re made with clean ingredients that are good for you and good for the environment.

Artisanal Non-Dairy Cheese is Inclusive

Inclusivity is a popular word these days—and for good reason. We love that artisanal non-dairy cheese is a food that everyone can enjoy. It makes no difference whether you consider yourself a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, etc. We can all enjoy a tasty hunk of vegan cheese complete with a bloomy rind. Nobody has to be left out! For those with allergies, lactose intolerance, and dietary concerns, non-dairy cheese is a food that steps in to fill the empty space that dairy cheese used to occupy. The fact that it’s made with healthy, heart-friendly ingredients is the icing on the (cheese) cake.

So let’s eat this scrumptious food together. If you’re a part of the estimated 68 percent of the world’s population that suffers from lactose intolerance, it’s probably been years since you’ve enjoyed a satisfying and tasty grilled cheese. Or maybe you still think wistfully on that childhood dish you used to love but can no longer eat. For those with nut allergies, even plant-based cheeses are out of the question. But not anymore! Although many vegan cheeses are cashew based, there are completely nut-free options for those with nut allergies. You’ll find artisanal vegan cheese made from oat, soy, hemp…even watermelon seeds and fava beans!

Katie Jones of Catalyst Creamery makes completely plant-based hemp cheese in flavors like Muenster, Mozzarella, Dill Havarti, and Ghost Pepper & Fried Onion. Our very own Cheese Louise (Lucie) is a HUGE fan of Katie’s Horseradish Hemp Seed Cheese. If you like eating cheese that packs some heat, give the Horseradish cheese from Catalyst Creamery a go!

For a cheese that bites you back— in a good way. Catalyst Creamery’s Horseradish Hemp Seed Cheese.

For many of the artisan cheesemakers who craft plant-based cheese, one of the most fulfilling parts of their day is hearing from customers who are overjoyed to be able to experience the satisfaction of eating cheese again after years of missing out due to allergies and other dietary concerns.

Kirsten Maitland of Rebel Cheese in Austin, Texas, makes a vegan brie that can fool even connoisseurs of the real thing. Kirsten finds it meaningful each time a customer shares how long it’s been since they’ve had anything resembling brie. For her, providing a cherished experience for people who can no longer partake in the dairy version is a calling that Kirsten is happy to take up.

So try it. You’ll like it. Many people say they don’t miss real dairy cheese at all after getting in a rhythm with these beautiful vegan cheeses.

Where to Find Artisanal Non-Dairy Cheese

Okay, so you’ve decided to get your hands on these impeccably delicious vegan cheeses. Artisanal non-dairy cheese comes in a variety of gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free versions. Here’s a list of some of our favorites to get you started (just click on the link to go to their website):

Besties Vegan Paradise in Los Angeles is one of our very favorite havens to grab all things vegan. And they ship!

We’re excited for you to try all the cheeses from these companies. We’ve served these plant based goodies to our friends who have a variety of dietary preferences and we’ve yet to have any negative reviews. This new crowd of vegan cheese—made from real ingredients and not just starches and oils—will pleasantly surprise you.

As always, Lots of Love & Stay Cheesy 🧀

Lucie & Lisa

P.S. We’ve got a surprise for you! If you want to know more about artisanal non-dairy cheese, we have a brand new book called Cheese Not Cheese and it’s full of everything you need to know about vegan cheese: how it’s made, what it’s made of, tips & tricks for storage and handling, recipes, cheese platter ideas, interviews with the cheesemakers, and more.

Follow us on Instagram @thevegancheeseplate

Get your hands on our book, Cheese Not Cheese, here!

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction of our book detailing why vegan cheese is for everybody:

You Don’t Have to be Vegan to Enjoy Non-Dairy Cheese

Whatever your dietary preferences may be, we consider you a friend and there’s definitely a seat for you at our table. However you identify, there are super-tasty, non-dairy cheeses available to you. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy non-dairy cheese. Your local supermarket is probably stocked with brands like Follow Your Heart, Daiya, Field Roast, Miyokos, Violife, and Kite Hill. These are grilled cheese worthy cheeses.

In addition to the brands we just listed, there’s an entire movement of artisanal non-dairy cheeses made by indie makers that you’ll want at your table. Trust us! You’ll need to taste these artisanal cheeses, like, now. Right now. Now-now.

These makers are visionaries pioneering the science of cultures in non-dairy cheese. Bandit (formerly Conscious Cultures), Catalyst Creamery, Darë Vegan Cheese, Katona’s Kreamery, Misha’s Kind Foods, Rebel Cheese, Rind, and The Uncreamery are just a few of these revolutionary makers. They are fermenting, shaping, molding, rind washing, and cultivating good bacteria just like dairy cheese makers have for hundreds of years—and they’re just getting started. The best part? We talked to several of these makers and you’ll get to read the highlights from our conversation in this book.

With so many options available to you, we promise you’ll find an artisanal, non-dairy cheese you’ll like—maybe even love!

1. Rao, Tejal. “Vegan Cheese, but Make It Delicious” The New York Times, April 16, 2021,

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