Prior to going vegan, my experience with vegan cheese was basically limited to Daiya and Teese. Those were the two brands served and sold at a vegan café I worked at in New Hampshire and to my knowledge, they were the figurative cream of the crop. I didn’t really do a lot of research or look for any other vegan cheese substitutes. Then, in January when my partner and I opted to finally cut dairy out and go full vegan, I realized that just because I thought Daiya and Teese were pretty damn perfect, my partner was not into them at all.
We went back and forth on whether or not we even wanted to bother with vegan cheese — it’s expensive and it’s hard to cook with and the texture or the flavor are usually off (usually one is fine and the other is terrible, though sometimes both suck) — but I wanted to continue buying it, at least occasionally. AR was all for just cutting it out. I’m stubborn as hell, though, and felt determined to find something we could use for things like tacos and pizza. Thus began a very slow, careful exploration of vegan cheese substitutes. We tried several brands and read about several others. Then, one of the regulars at my coffee shop who also happens to work at a pizza shop that serves amazing vegan pizza told me what kind of cheese they use on their pies: Follow Your Heart. He also taught me a trick that will stick with me forever: when cooking with vegan cheese, take what you would have used with dairy cheese and cut it in half.
I’m not being dramatic when I say that Follow Your Heart is the best vegan cheese substitute there is. Forget what anyone else tells you; this is the goldmine, right here. And the best part? The company has a whole line of vegan products including Veganaise, vegan sour cream, vegan cream cheese, and even vegan salad dressings. Since discovering how good the cheese is, I’ve started buying several of their products and I’ve been blown away each time. Previous favorites have been replaced. My refrigerator has become a veritable shrine to this company’s products. I still have more to try, but I’ve yet to be disappointed. I packed a ton (okay, 1.5 cups, but that’s a lot for vegan cheese!) of Follow Your Heart (shredded cheddar and monterey jack as well as cream cheese) into a vegan chicken taquito recipe last week and it was amazing. Like genuinely amazing. I was shocked, though I honestly shouldn’t be, because ever since we made our first homemade pizza with Follow Your Heart mozzarella (pictured above), I’ve known that this is The Vegan Cheese.
I’ve always been of the opinion that your food should work as hard for you as you work for your food. Cooking with vegan substitutes is sometimes super difficult. I’ve found with most cheese substitutes that they’re either too oily or too powdery or, dangerously, both. Follow Your Heart has a nice balance to it that makes it really easy to work with. I’m not sure what about its formula makes it so different from its competitors, but each time I make a dish with Follow Your Heart I come away feeling totally satisfied with the experiences of cooking and eating. Even my partner likes this cheese! When we encounter recipes we want to try that call for vegan cheese, we opt for Follow Your Heart without hesitation.
Now that fall is well underway (though the weather here would disagree — it’s supposed to be in the 70s and pouring rain for the next week thanks to Hurricane Joaquin), my focus in the kitchen is going to be really hearty, warm, filling meals like soups and stews and pastas. Above is the creamy tomato soup I made this evening, dressed with Follow Your Heart sour cream for an extra kick. AR plans to use it in their next pot of mushroom stroganoff and I have some hardcore cheesecake plans for the holidays. I can’t wait to work more with these products and see how they adapt to different dishes in the kitchen. I’m stoked that Follow Your Heart provides such a symbiotic relationship: it’s easy to cook with and delicious on the palate, which makes the whole experience of making food more enjoyable for me.
Although we can’t afford to treat ourselves to vegan substitutes every week, we do try to purchase them when we can. It should be noted that, despite the tone of this post, most of our meals don’t involve vegan cheese or vegan meat substitutes at all. We’re firm believers in eating vegan on a budget.
Disclaimer: It should also be noted that this post was in no way sponsored or paid for by Follow Your Heart. I’m just a big fan of the company and its products and felt the desire to share my feelings on this blog.