I'm a cheese LOVER who's going plant based to save my life; let's discuss.
The goal is to consume only whole plants and/or dishes made from only whole plants in various forms (e.g. blended, boiled, baked, barbecued, browned, etc.) and NOT get sucked into the pre-made, processed, deliciousness sold for the vegan population, that doesn't contain animals or their byproducts, but also doesn't have nearly the same nutritional benefit as whole plants.
That being said, I've found some delicious replacements for cheese that I thought I would share. Some options are more nutritional than others, all contain no animals.
World Vegan Feast is a cook book that contains a recipe for Suisse Melty Vegan Cheese that is almost better than actual cheese... almost. It can be used as a spreadable cheese, a cheese sauce, a slice-able cheese (if you let it harden in the refrigerator), etc. You can change the flavor by adding or removing certain flavor aspects of the recipe. You can make it chunkier for a cheese dip/topping. It melts well enough for grilled cheese or quesadillas. I'm excited to see if it will work as a substitute in my enchilada pancakes.
Another recipe for cheese in the same book is their Walnut Parm (which is used as a base for the suisse melty cheese). That stuff is BETTER than any parmigiana I've had... maybe not fresh, but close. You can make a ton of it to have on hand to sprinkle on anything you'd like. Baked Parmesan Crostini, done; Parmesan on your salad, no problem; Put down the Mrs. Dash, grab your walnut parm.
Another easy vegan cheese replacement is Alfredo Sauce. There are plenty of recipes for that, and they're all pretty spot on (not that I've tried every single one, but enough to notice the pattern). There's one in World Vegan Feast, and one of my favorites can be found here.
I've tried a few pre-made veggie/vegan cheeses from various grocery stores and found they mostly all taste like veggie puree and/or chemicals, and they don't melt... they just get warm and filmy. They look generally more appetizing though.
Which brings me to my next point about all the substitutes. If you've been reading my posts about eating whole foods, but have one or two items you can't even fathom letting go of, like my cheese, there are more than enough vegan hipsters blogging out there; you're bound to find a replacement you can live with.
Again, I emphasize that this is a once in a while treat that I can enjoy instead of real cheese. Especially the Suisse Melty Cheese that contains corn starch and white flour. No animals, but still not ideal = once in a while treat. The book has other recipes that stick with whole plants and are delicious.
Until next time...