Vegan Cheese: the Pros and Cons

As non-vegans, many of us take one look at vegan dairy and meat substitutes and stick out our tongues in disgust. Coconut milk ice cream? Ugh, it tastes nothing like real ice cream. Cheese made out of soy? Give me a break.

Surprisingly, the vegan community is no less divided on this same issue. Ask any health or plant-based vegan whether they indulge in faux meats and cheeses, and they’ll tell you that these products don’t taste the same, and furthermore, they are processed and high in fat, making them negative additions to a healthy diet anyways. An environmental vegan will tell you that because these products are just as processed as other non-vegan products, eating them does just as much harm to our planet as eating meat and dairy. But how about animal rights vegans? Would they shy away from these substitutes simply because they too closely resemble the meat that they avoid eating?

Through my five interviews that I have conducted over the past month, I’ve found interesting opinions when it comes to using vegan meat and dairy substitutes. In fact, three of my interviewees, all of whom were large animal activists, admitted that they have never argued that meat and dairy don’t taste good, they just don’t like what they are made of. Thus, faux meats and cheeses seem like perfectly reasonable options, and they make up a large part of their meals.

Through my five interviews I have conducted this month, I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering these differences in opinion within the vegan community. This has been especially easy because so many of my participants were different from the ones I spoke with last summer. This month, I spoke with an animal rights activist who is also a nurse, and who has thus had interesting encounters in her workplace when it comes to health arguments related to veganism. Two of my participants were college-aged, which was particularly exciting, because they had different views on several issues and had also encountered less negative push-back from their friends and family. Additionally, one of my participants was an environmental vegan, which I had been meaning to find. Overall, I think my data covers a wide range of ages and perspectives, and I am excited to begin my analysis!



  1. Kathryn Eckler says:

    Food is such a fascinating topic of discussion. While our meals can be viewed as a necessary task to fulfil our daily 2,000 calorie requirements, food is also a descriptor of who we are as people. For example, every morning I make three shots of strong espresso, and I drink my morning coffee black. Without knowing anything else about me, you probably have an opinion about what type of person I am based on my morning caffeine intake. While we can all speculate what our food choices say about us as individuals, I think that it is fascinating that you are studying the language surrounding food choices. By analysing the complexity behind food choices, environmental concerns, and the language surrounding food sources, you are able to learn so much about an individual.

  2. elkitchens says:

    Kate, it looks like you have a lot of interesting data that could give thoughtful insite into perceptions of veganism. I find it particularly interesting the way vegans from different age groups interact with their own veganism. Keep up the good work!