A new range of vegan cheese – my review

I turned vegan in August 2015, and apart from the occasional (mostly drunken, if I’m honest) lapse, I’ve stayed vegan for the whole time.  (See Simon Amstell’s Carnage film on BBC iPlayer for a funny and honest account of veganism that’ll keep you vegan for life, in my opinion)  I can remember what cheese actually tastes like and Jonathan is vegetarian with a real passion for cheese.  This article comes from comparing these cheese substitutes with actual cheese, as should be!  I really want these to be directly comparable and to taste and feel like dairy cheese – it was a really difficult thing for me to give up and I really miss Brie…

This really is a completely honest review of Tesco’s new range of vegan cheeses, made by Bute Island.  First of all, I’m not only impressed that Tesco have its own range, but that it’s available in our local branch!  A certain other major supermarket that also stock an own brand range made by Bute Island have so far refused to stock Wellingborough’s branch as they “don’t have room” – that’s another rant for another day.  As much as I’m really not a fan of Tesco, I decided to investigate their range, as many other vegan bloggers praise the excellent vegan choices in that shop.  I went along and bought:

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Smoked Cheese
Red Leicester slices
Wensleydale with cranberries
Mature Cheddar
Mozzarella Shreds

All with the coconut oil advertised on the front.  From experience, I’m really not keen on soya based ‘cheese’!  Then Jonathan and I set to a cheese and ‘wine’ evening…

Soft Cheese
Wow – really delicious and I’m surprised that, 4 days later, there’s still some left.  It really tastes like Philadelphia!  It’s a lovely subtle flavour and a creamy consistency that goes really well on some really good quality bread.  I don’t want to sully it with any other ingredients yet, but one of my favourite sandwiches was Philadelphia with cucumber so I’m looking forward to trying that later.

Smoked Cheese
This was another of my favourites and I used to struggle to even find a vegetarian alternative, let alone a vegan one.  Violife smoked cheese was one of the reasons I began to think I could be vegan and my opinion hasn’t changed.  Smoked cheese for me, should be firm and with a strong taste that you can pick up over whatever you’ve served it on, which is exactly what the Violife one does.  The Tesco one did neither of these.  I could just about pick up the smoked flavour, but  I think it’s more because I wanted to; I don’t think I’d spot it if I didn’t know the flavour beforehand.  Nice cheese, but needs more smoked flavour.

Red Leicester Slices
Again, this needs to be very firm and nutty.  I couldn’t taste anything to be honest.  It’s pictured as an accompaniment on a burger, so I’ll try that before dismissing it entirely.  The slices were quite slight and definitely not the flavour of Red Leicester.

Wensleydale with Cranberries
Let’s be clear about this – Wensleydale was one of my favourite cheeses.  With cranberries?  Not so much, so to be honest, I wasn’t expecting great things from this.  It wasn’t crumbly like its dairy namesake and the cranberries overpowered any flavour it had so this one really isn’t the one for me.  I’d really like to try it without the cranberries.

Mature Cheddar
Nope, nowhere near mature cheddar, sorry.  Not nearly strong enough.  Neither’s the Violife cheddar flavour, so I’m still waiting for a mature cheddar dairy alternative to make my mouth turn inside out like a mature cheddar should.

Mozzarella Shreds
Nice colour – very mozzarella-y.  The flavour’s good too – nice and mild.  I put it on a baked spud; it stayed in shreds and didn’t melt at all.  I’ve yet to actually cook it on a pizza but the potato was more than hot enough to melt cheese (everyone else’s dairy cheese melted) so I was a little disappointed.  I put some on my daughter’s potato skins and ate them; really lovely.  As I say, enough flavour to taste so I hope that it melts effectively when cooked.  As far as shreds go, so far Follow Your Heart’s Cheddar shreds are the winner for melting properly.

So, the soft cheese is a winner in our house, with me and the rest of the vegetarians in the house.  I’ll definitely buy that again.  If I didn’t have the luxury of owning my own shop with a good range of vegan cheeses, I’d buy the mozzarella and smoked again too, just to have something to put on pizza and crackers.

We regularly stock the following:
Violife Smoked Block and Slices
Violife Cheddar Block
Violife for Pizza block (used at The Piazza on their vegan pizzas)
Violife cucumber and dill cheese spread
VegAmigo Pizza Melty shreds
Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Shreds, cheddar flavour
Bute Island Sheese Strong Cheddar style block

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