Vegan cheese sucks. And anyone who's bitten into grilled cheese filled with a "non-dairy cheese alternative" expecting the gooey stretch and piquant tang of a sharp cheddar knows what I'm talking about. The unnaturally orange, flavorless, shredded bits cling together like a gloppy pile of Silly String and taste, I'd imagine, much the same.
So it was with great hesitation that I plopped a bag of Daiya "deliciously dairy free" mozzarella-style shreds into my Boise Co-op basket and made plans for a vegan pesto pizza. The package promised that the product was: "cholesterol free, trans fat free, dairy free, vegan and free of common allergens including dairy (casein and lactose), soy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts (excluding coconut)."
Which pretty much leaves air and water as the only possible ingredients. Well, water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and/or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt and vegan spices.
Yet, somehow, all those random-sounding components melt together into a magical, stretchy, tangy, mind-blowingly cheese-like experience. This stuff is 100 percent legit.
And I'm only one among the converted: Daiya was voted best vegan cheese by the readers of VegNews in 2010 and also won the Peta Libby Award for Best Vegan Cheese in 2009. You can currently pick it up in town at Fred Meyer and Boise Co-op.