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Cheese without cows
Food and drink opinion

Cheese without cows

Accepting that veganism is a growing trend, it is hardly surprising that commercial interests are doing all they can to hitch their wagon to this particular star, writes AJ Linn

AJ Linn

Malaga

Friday, 15 March 2024, 15:10

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Most readers of this column probably have limited ambitions as far as saving the planet by changing their eating habits are concerned. Nevertheless, accepting that veganism is a growing trend, it is hardly surprising that commercial interests are doing all they can to hitch their wagon to this particular star. A typical convert has gone on record as saying she'd been surprised by how many foods were easy to give up. She barely missed bacon, butter or cow's milk. But here's the rub: she couldn't live without cheese.

Six months later she finally found a creamy, smoky Irish white cheddar imitation—made from cashews, coconut oil, tapioca starch, seaweed, paprika, and a secret bacterial culture—with a texture indistinguishable from goat cheese.

Vegan cheeses - which mimic the taste and texture of the dairy version without using animal products - may run to dozens of different versions, including herb and peppercorn 'no-goat', caramelised onion cheddar, garlic chive cream cheese and even a vegan halloumi. Vegan cheese boutiques are primed to be the new gluten-free bakeries, and the global vegan cheese market is valued at about $2.4 billion (US), approximately half of what the plant-based meat market is currently worth.

Cheese alternatives may produce about half the CO2 emissions of dairy versions and vegan cheese is becoming more palatable than its plasticky predecessors. Of course, increased consumption of artificial cheese means less cows, which, in the long run, means fewer farms and farmers, so while one problem may be partially solved, as in most such cases, another one is created.

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