Vegan cheeses seem to be multiplying like cat hairs on a couch — every time I go shopping there are new ones I haven't heard of. We were recently gifted with two flavors of Fauxmage, a brand new vegan cultured soft cheese being made right here in Seattle, by Brooke Young. Spreading the delicious cheese on crackers and munching away made me reflect on how much our access to vegan specialty foods has changed since I first became vegan in 1981. We had things like dried beans, grains, tofu, and a couple of cookbooks in case we wanted to make special items like "cheese sauce" or seitan. I had a copy of "The Farm Cookbook" with a recipe for a cheesy sauce I used for pizza, enchiladas or lasagna. I also had a recipe for tofu cream cheese, that I made on occasion. In 1998, "The Uncheese Cookbook" was published, and more recipes became available.
Most of the time, though, we just enjoyed plant-based cooking that didn't try to replicate the animal foods we had left behind. I was never much of a processed-foods consumer, and since there were very few vegan fast foods accessible when I became vegan, I didn't get into the habit of using them regularly. Even now that so much is available, we don't depend much on packaged vegan foods, though we do sample them on occasion. However, I'm definitely happy to see all the current vegan foods at one's disposal to help new vegans and potential vegans transition to a plant-based diet. I know how hard it can be to let go of certain foods — especially cheese. Although it was more than 30 years ago, I vividly recollect my hallucination of pizza slices with extra, molten mozzarella, floating past my eyes at the moment I decided to stop consuming dairy. This is the truth, not a joke.
I know many vegans are fervently attached to one vegan cheese or another, but my husband and I have never been impressed enough in the past with any of them to make them more than a very occasional part of our diet. Many of the standard vegan cheeses are made from ingredients that, to me, don't seem worth eating, but now that the newest versions of cultured nut cheeses have appeared, we find ourselves splurging on one variety or another — usually Miyoko's Kitchen. (That is, if I don't make my own cashew cheese from one of Miyoko Schinner's recipes.) When Brooke offered sample containers of her new cheese, Fauxmage, we were curious, and happily agreed to try it. And we were impressed. It's amazing how some tastes and textures come flooding back no matter how long it's been since you've tasted them, and I think cheese is one of those items.
Here's what Brooke says about Fauxmage on her Web site:
"The future of food is here! All of our cheeses are 100% dairy free with real, live, active cultures and are healthier for people and the planet than traditional dairy products. Our cheese is raw, vegan, Paleo, as well as gluten-free and cholesterol-free. We make our cheeses by hand, in small batches, to ensure the highest quality. We don’t use any oils, gums, starches or thickeners, so with Fauxmage you get all cheese and no fillers. We source our spices from World Spice Merchants in the heart of Pike Place Market and grind them fresh for each batch."
We are enjoying both flavors, and I encourage you to give Fauxmage a try. The cheeses are spreadable and delicious, with subtle flavors in a creamy base — delectible! Good ingredients and good taste! Do you have a favorite vegan cheese?
(Ingredients, Herbes de Provence: cashews, herbes de provence, garlic, lemon juice, salt, cultures.
Ingredients, Rooster Spice: cashews, Mama Lil’s pickled peppers, spice blend, garlic, lemon juice, salt, cultures.) The Rooster Spice cheese has a spicy kick.
Hop over to the Fauxmage Web site to find out more about the cheese and where it can be purchased.
|(Photo of a Fauxmage advertising post card.)|
One last little thought. I hate to be extra picky, but I have to point out the cheeses aren't organic, and there are a few ingredients that may be of concern if you worry about GMOs or pesticides. For example, the Rooster Spice contains Mama Lil's peppers in canola oil, which is possibly a GMO oil, and I don't usually buy peppers unless they're organic because they are such a heavily sprayed crop. I haven't asked Brooke about this yet so take my warning with a grain of salt. It may not be an issue, but I'm offering the information in case it is important to you.
The canola oil in the peppers (that flavor the cheese) is certified non-gmo. Also, Brooke has switched to organic cashews but must use up her old labels for financial reasons. It's too expensive for a small company to print all-new labels.