Curious about trying plant-based, vegan cheese? There are the best options at the grocery store, according to a top dietitian.
It’s safe to say that people really, really love their cheese. In fact, the average American consumes 38.15 pounds of cheese (plus an additional seven pounds of processed cheese) every single year, according to USDA data. But as people’s interest in going plant-based or dairy-free has risen in recent years, so have the number of vegan cheese alternatives designed to help people eat how they want without having major cheese FOMO.
However, there are so many out there on the market that we asked star dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, to break down the healthiest vegan cheese options on the most recent episode of You Versus Food. “Alt-cheeses are cheeses made from dairy-free alternatives, such as almonds, cashews, and soy,” Beckerman says. And unlike some of the OG fake cheeses of the ’90s, she says that the most recent graduating class of alt-cheeses really do look, smell, and taste like the real thing.
However, just because they look like cheese doesn’t mean they’re all as nutritious as cheese itself. Beckerman cautions that some vegan cheeses are highly processed in order to mimic the taste and texture of actual cheese, and notes that you shouldn’t expect alt-cheeses to have the same nutrients as regular cheese—especially protein, calcium, and vitamin D. However, there are a few healthy alt-cheeses that stand out.
However, there are some healthy vegan cheese options out there; one of Beckerman’s favorites is Treeline Creamy Soft French-Style Treenut Cheese. It’s a “100 percent dairy-free, environmentally-friendly cashew spread that’s creamy, tangy, and honestly so good you won’t know it’s actually dairy-free,” she says. Treeline cheeses are also gluten-free and paleo-friendly. “Depending on the flavor, these cheeses have three to five grams of protein per serving, which is great,” she says. But what makes these cheeses extra special is that they contain live cultures, which makes them a good source of probiotics.
Watch the video to get more of her thoughts on the most popular alt-cheese options, plus find out which one is her absolute favorite.
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