“But, cheese…” Those whimpered two words are frequently the first response from omnivores at any mention of veganism.
And it’s true that for many of us, cheese is initially the hardest food to give up. That was definitely the case for me; though it was never going to be something to which I returned once the dairy industry blinkers were removed, I missed the distinctive taste for at least a year or so. I also felt the loss of its convenience as something to stick in a sandwich or melt on toast for a simple tasty meal.
Over the past seven years, a bountfiful stream of processed foods for herbivores has saturated the market, and the search for the ultimate vegan cheese continues. As with the traditional product itself, the price range varies and you get what you pay for. For a basic cheese-on-toast fix, the competitors are increasing, with my own staple being Applewood.
But this week I ventured into the higher end of the spectrum with a trip to the UK’s first plant-based cheesemonger’s shop, La Fauxmagerie, in the rather aptly named Cheshire Street just off vibrant Brick Lane in London. A visit here provides the chance to sample some of the fancier vegan offerings before deciding whether to buy a larger block. The self-proclaimed mission of the shop is to curate a selection of the finest plant-based cheeses the UK has to offer and as well as selling established ranges such as I AM NUT OK, the owners have recently branched into making their own cheeses.
To me, vegan cheeses, unlike burgers and other fake meat products, can’t simply be a plain replica of their dairy parent versions, but I’m at a point where I don’t really want them to be. The smell of cheese, which once I found so appealing, is now sour, a little “off” and frankly unpleasant to me. What I want is the strength of savoury flavour and the creaminess… something I can lavish on to a seeded cracker or squish on to a lowly bit of toast and see it transformed.
That’s what La Fauxmagerie offers. If you get the chance, a trip to the shop is absolutely worth it. It’s both a personal and a flavourful experience; they also offer after-hours cheese and wine pairing evenings in their cellar. If not, you can browse online at lafauxmagerie.com