Do you have an insatiable appetite for cheese? Between 2018 and 2019, about 380,000 tonnes of dairy cheese was produced in Australia and the demand for non-cheddar varieties from non-vegans has risen by 30% compared to 30 years ago. Australian dairy cheese is also in high demand overseas, with exports being flown to over 50 countries. That’s a saddening amount of fromage but tastes are shifting to vegan choices.
As of mid-2019, one in six Australians were turning their backs to dairy and choosing dairy-free options instead. Why? I’m assuming that many want healthier options, they may want to feel better and they may want their planet to be in tip-top shape. So, loads of Aussies are now in pursuit of non-dairy options including cheese.
Now, what makes vegan cheese vegan?
Basically, vegan cheese is not made from dairy, and does not contain casein (coagulated milk proteins), curd, whey, rennet (a calf’s stomach enzyme) or features beeswax rind. Vegan cheeses are made from plant-based ingredients such as coconut, rice, soy, nuts and seeds, nut milks, plant-based yeasts and – sometimes – root vegetables. Melbourne’s vegan scene is booming and the city is bursting with vegan cheese options. Can’t live without your cheese, but you want to live without dairy? Then check out Melbourne’s top three vegan cheese makers.
Let’s start with The Vegan Dairy
The Vegan Dairy in Dromana loves making the ‘real thing’ but vegan. Co-founders Brittany and husband Bronson come from a cheese-making background that draws on traditional French cheese making methods. Yet, they push these boundaries when it comes to making their all-vegan cheese range. The Vegan Dairy will blow your mind with artisanal options like Ashed Chèvre, a goat milk-style cheese made from cashews. Or, there are jars of Persian Feta with a surprising tangy flavour; perfect for those salads that demand a feta finish. For dessert, stick your fingers into a jar of decadent Dutch Chocolate Crème or spoon it over fresh berries. Outside COVID-19 restrictions, their factory is open on the first Saturday of every month for samples and purchases.
The next top maker on the list is AVS Organic Foods
Next up, AVS Organic Foods is another of Melbourne’s stellar vegan cheese-makers. AVS stands for A Vegan Smiles, and was founded by Melissa Murphy-Webster. She makes her range of ‘kinda’ cheeses and creams to show non-vegans that vegan foods can taste great. Cheese-lovers with allergies don’t miss out either. Try grilling AVS’ Haloumi with Herbs and serve it with a wedge of lemon. Or, load your next cheese board with a round of more-ish Cashew with Miso or Lemon and Dill. Need some quality parmesan for your next vegan spag bol? Then, grab yourself a packet of Nut Parmesan flavoured with pepitas and sunflower. Or, you can create your own cheese using an AVS DIY cheese kit.
And, let’s not forget Damona Dairy Free Vegan Cheeses
To finish, Damona Dairy Free Vegan Cheeses is the brainchild of Norwegian ex-pat Martin Soerensen and his partner Rosa. Together, they’re channelling their love of good food through their range of dairy-free vegan alternatives to traditional cheeses. Are you looking for something to melt? Then, choose Smoked Mozzarella or American Cheddar. Need to stack your cheese board? Then a wheel of Brie Style can be your centrepiece. For a classier dinner, add Baked Almond Feta or scoop a few Bocconcini in Brine straight from the jar.
More notable makers and brands found around town
Melbourne is lucky to have a wide vegan cheese community, whether there are others making the product or shops that stock it all. Some more notable brands include:
- Angel Food
- Botanical Cuisine
- Hello Friends Foods
So, do you have a favourite vegan cheese maker? Let me know your recommendations as well as your favourite flavours in the comments below!