Saturday, June 26, 2010

Taking Daiya Vegan Cheese for a Spin

Being a former cheese snob, the thought of substituting non-dairy cheese on any of my former food favorites seemed a little depressing. I have tried a few other vegan brands. I won't mention any names, but please (you know who you are) stop trying to pass off products for cheese that are not even remotely close, and in fact are repulsively disgusting. Maybe that's a little strong, but I would like my food to at least smell good. Since the whole vegan diet thing became more than a temporary way to lose a few pounds, I started looking more seriously for some cheese alternatives. I've read many vegan forums, and apparently there is a Daiya cheese cult among budding vegans. For those living farther away from a Whole Foods in your backyard, Daiya is harder to find than other brands.  I've heard that you can only buy a limited quantity at Whole Foods.  So, being that it is apparently a popular choice, I wanted to try it ASAP. 

Pizza is great way to use up one's veggies that only have a few days left in them before going bad, so I am hoping to keep a few prepared crusts in the freezer to waste less.  So, back to the Daiya Cheese. I have to say I actually liked it, though not in the same sense as dairy cheese. I've found that many things that are replacements; i.e. non-animal based bacon, chicken, and beef really never taste like the real thing. Let's be honest. But, I've also found that you can learn to appreciate new non-cruelty foods just the same as long as you don't expect them to taste exactly the same as their animal counterparts. The Daiya was definitely cheesy, and while it pulls apart and is stringy like real cheese, it has more of an American Cheese flavor.  I enjoyed the pizza, and look forward to using Daiya in a more recipes to come :)

Nate's Two Cents: Tara said it well; vegan pizza is its own thing.  As you long as you appreciate it that way, and don't expect it to taste exactly like a deep-pan stuffed-crust supreme from Pizza Hut, you'll find the veggie flavors work really well together and that thanks to the absence of cheese, it really is possible to gorge on pizza without feeling guilty afterwards.  (Also, for what it's worth, I don't know if authentic "pizza" and Pizza Hut even belong in the same thought.)  So go for it; grab those leftover greens--and yellows and reds if you have them--and give yourself a chance to experience a less cheesy, non-greasy, and nicely balanced version of the junk food you wish you didn't love so much.

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