Tribune Tastes: Vegan Cheeses

The Herbivore Society for Peace and Justice (HSPJ) hosted a Vegan Wine & Cheese event on Nov. 29 for McGill students and the Montreal community. The event, hosted at Café Origine, featured a sampling of vegan cheeses paired with red and white wine. //The McGill Tribune// sampled all the cheeses provided by the Ontario-based company Nuts for Cheese.

Natalie Warren and Abby Couture, head organizers for the HSPJ, explained how events like these help introduce McGill students to vegan and vegetarian food options and provide opportunities for students to socialize outside of the university.

“It’s a fun and social way to eat vegan food and mingle,” Warren said. “It shows people [that] there is a business side [and] a sustainable side to veganism.”

Warren elaborated on the broader goals of the HSPJ, stressing how cultivating an environment for like-minded foodies is a good way to unite vegan and vegetarian students on campus.

“It’s establishing a network, [because] there are a lot of vegan and vegetarian students on campus,” Couture said.

The event featured spreads accompanied by rice crackers alongside Borsao Bodegas wines, including their full bodied Garnacha Cabernet, a bold fruity red, as well as their Chardonnay, which featured a fruity aroma and citric bite.

Vegan cheese might sound perplexing to those unacquainted with it, but Nuts for Cheese’s products are simple, with cashew, coconut and olive oils, and nutritional yeast bases. Different styles feature various added ingredients and seasonings to create the desired flavour profile. They are fermented in a similar way to dairy-based cheese, which provides the sour notes of fermentation and a realistic cheesy flavour.

Chipotle ‘Cheddar’ Flavoured Wedge

This soft wedge-style cheddar has a soft, buttery texture that spreads nicely onto a cracker for easy snacking. The added spices and seasonings built a lovely flavour, and the fermentation process gave the cheese a sour note reminiscent of real cheddar. Comparisons aside, this cheese makes a well-seasoned spread on its own merits.

Un-Brie-lievable

This imitation brie combines the pleasing buttery texture of the Chipotle ‘Cheddar’ with a rich flavour. The cashew base provides a creamy mouthfeel, reminiscent of other nut-butter products. The heavy palette is balanced by its seasoning, which brings a strong salty flavour that cut through the fat.

Super ‘Blue’

For those intimidated by traditional blue cheeses, fear not. The cashew base of Super ‘Blue’ makes for a very gentle palette that can be accentuated by added spices and flavours. Nuts for Cheese uses spirulina to give this cheese the classic blue-green colours of its dairy-based counterpart. With its mild bite, Super ‘Blue’ is definitely a good introduction to blue cheeses.

Red Rind

The Red Rind is encased in a rind of paprika seasoning, which spices up its neutral palette. This spread had a sharper and more sour flavour profile than the other cheeses, lingering in the back of the mouth and tip of the tongue. Red Rind is a great choice for those looking to impress their vegan dinner guests. 

Smoky Artichoke and Herb

The artichoke and lemon pesto in this cheese provide a pleasing vegetable flavour, though it is a little subtle to taste. Similar to Un-Brie-lievable, the greenery helps to cut through an otherwise very smooth and creamy taste. An excellent cheese for crackers, its soft texture lends itself very well to spreading.

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