“Vegan” is a loaded word. For a time, most people didn’t even know how to pronounce it (it’s vee-gan, by the way, not vay-gan). The correlation of angry protestors wearing hemp-based clothing and aggressively demanding others stop eating animals is exactly why the world has shifted to the far less offensive term of “plant-based.” And yet, what is even more divisive than vegan? Vegan cheese. It’s a polarizing topic, but if you haven’t tried vegan cheese in a while, it’s time to give it another chance. At the very least, give The Pizza Plant mozzarella a try, because there’s pizza underneath it!
The Reputation of Vegan Cheese
Beyond Burgers? Fine. Impossible Whoppers? Okay. But vegan cheese? That’s where most people draw the line. You don’t often hear of meat addiction, but it’s socially acceptable to profess an addiction to cheese. Most people aren’t going to give up their gouda without a fight, particularly if an alternative does not exist.
Unfortunately, the fate of vegan cheese was determined long ago when the first soy-based products hit the shelves in the latter half of the 1900s. The Seventh Day Adventists were primarily responsible for bringing vegan cheese to the market, and while the initiative was appreciated, the product itself was not. Brands such as Soymage, Soyarella, and Soya Kass sold cheese alternatives made from soy protein, and while soy protein plays a crucial part in our plant-based pepperoni, it’s not a quality ingredient when it comes to vegan cheese.
For a long time, vegan cheese sold by the shreds, slices, and blocks was outright dismal. The products have been described—by omnivores and vegans alike—as “rubbery,” “bland,” and “crayon-like” (the latter description was provided by the respected vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz). With this kind of reputation, many vegans accepted the fact that cheese was no longer an option for them, and omnivores delighted in this extra ammunition to make fun of the vegan diet.
Raw Foodists Pave the Way
The Pizza Plant is not raw in any way, but we do have to thank the raw foodists of the late twentieth century for their culinary innovation. While soy cheese lined the shelves, the raw food community began experimenting with nuts instead of soy as a base for cheese-like products. They struck gold. Liquid gold. Nuts—particularly cashews—proved to be far superior when it comes to vegan cheese that was not only edible, but craveable. It’s the reason why our signature vegan mozzarella is made with cashews as the main ingredient. It took a few decades for nut cheeses to really hit their stride in the market, but because of this delicious discovery, consumers can now confidently walk into most grocery stores and find a nut-based cheese that melts, spreads, and tastes like the dairy cheese they’re supposedly “addicted” to.
Is Vegan Cheese Healthy
Woah there, that’s a loaded question. The answer is that it depends. First, it’s important to note that vegan cheese is an analogue for an extremely unhealthy food. Dairy cheese is high in fat (both saturated and trans fats), cholesterol, calories, and other things you won’t find on the nutrition label such as natural bovine hormones (gross, but true). Vegan cheese is free from cholesterol, trans fats, and hormones by nature of being plant-based, but it also needs fat and calories to successfully replicate its animal-based predecessor.
Here’s your short answer: vegan cheese is healthier than dairy cheese.
Of course, healthier does not mean healthy, and we won’t pretend that all vegan cheese is a health food. Like dairy cheese, most vegan cheese should be enjoyed in moderation. The upside is that you can enjoy it knowing that your consumption isn’t harming any animals, devastating the environment, or messing with your cholesterol levels or hormone balance.
The Pizza Plant VS Other Vegan Cheese
Here lies the caveat: our vegan cheese isn’t like other vegan cheese. It’s not packed with coconut oil or starches as many modern vegan cheeses are (even the nut-based ones typically contain a good amount of oil and other questionable ingredients). We don’t want to moderate our pizza intake, so we needed to create a vegan cheese that was as wholesome as possible while still retaining a gooey, stretchy texture and deliciously unctuous taste. Thanks to our genius chef, we nailed it. Humble brag.
The Pizza Plant’s vegan mozzarella contains 10 all-organic ingredients: filtered water, cashews, coconut meat, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, potato starch, xanthan gum, garlic powder, onion powder, and nutritional yeast. You can find all of those ingredients at the grocery store—even the xanthan gum. It’s a natural binder, and if you’ve ever eaten a gluten-free baked good, we guarantee you’ve had it. The spices and nutritional yeast make up the flavor profile, the cashews and coconut add texture, and the pinch of potato starch provides that melty, stretchy experience that makes your eyes roll back with delight.
When you look at the ingredient list of other vegan mozzarella cheeses, you’ll find tapioca, coconut, and safflower oil; tricalcium phosphate, yeast extract, colorings, and vegan natural flavors. Try to find that at your local Kroger.
Where to Buy Vegan Cheese Pizza
We’re so glad you asked. Currently, we offer two styles of vegan pizza—a vegan pepperoni-based Everything But the Hog and a vegan sausage-topped Salsiccia Italiano. Both, of course, are generously dolloped with our housemade vegan mozzarella cheese. You can find both of these frozen pizzas in select Whole Foods in California, Nevada, and Arizona as well as Besties Vegan Paradise, New Deli Venice, and Vintage Grocers. We’ve got our eye on nationwide retail expansion, but in the meantime, we’re offering nationwide delivery! Each eight-pack box includes your choice of The Pizza Plant pizza and free shipping. We also have a variety box for those who want to try it all (and trust us, after you see the photos, you’re going to want to try it all).
Remember to follow us on Instagram @thepizzaplantusa for drool-worthy pizza pics (you’ve got to capture that vegan cheese pull!), perfect pizza pairings, new store distribution, and more!