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Say, Cheese? The Triumphant Return (Thanks to Daiya)

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Hero

Eggplant Parmesan Hero for the Famiglia Bean

When I was a vegetarian, I was fat and unhealthy. There was one reason and one reason only: CHEESE. No, seriously. My cholesterol count rivaled the one belonging to my carnivorous dad, and he eats the really gross stuff like liver and tongue.

I was always a picky eater; I eschewed most of the animal products offered me growing up in a S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) household–even as a baby. But cheese was a different story altogether. We were friends.

I officially went vegetarian in my early teens and basked in the excuse to eat cheese all the livelong day. Then, when I went vegan in my mid-twenties, the sudden omission of cheese was pure culture shock: it seemed you could get a substitute for just about everything–even caviar and haggis–but not simple cheese. While many vegan items on the market surpassed their non-vegan counterparts, the cheese options were just place fillers.Time passed and many improved substitutions surfaced, but nothing really hit the spot. I eventually stopped trying to replace my old friend after paying a small fortune to import a product from the other side of the world, only to have it arrive an unappetizing grey, gelatinous blob.

And then a vegan acquaintance whispered magic words to me as we wandered amidst the pigs at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. “I’ve found cheese,” she said, and I believed her immediately. Besides having been a reliable source of food recommendations in the past, vegans generally just don’t lie about these things: specifically not in a setting as serene and noble as a farm sanctuary!

So, I tried it immediately. Wow. People, I’m talking about Daiya. If you’ve had it, you understand. If you haven’t, go order some pronto! It’s. That. Good.

I often joke that I went veg on the merits (or lack thereof) of hot dogs and lunchmeat–before being introduced to more grown-up cruelty like veal and lobster. So, when I tore into my first package of cheddar Daiya, I began happily reliving my childhood with staples such as grilled cheese, nachos, cheese fries, and ‘tato skins. Yum, yum, yum, and yum. I immediately ordered the mozzarella flavor. Unfortunately, I had exhausted my long-lost cheese repertoire; I could barely remember what to do with mozzarella since it had been out of life for so long. And then I convinced my incredible cook of a mother to make eggplant parmesan. Amazing. My father even thanked her profusely for making him a separate platter with “real cheese” (give us a break with the lying; he’s the type of man who would stop eating edamame if he knew they were soybeans). Then came ziti, cheesy garlic bread, and pizza. And then I ran out… but more is on the way!

The experimentation will continue and I can already feel my cholesterol rising again. KIDDING! It’s vegan, duh. But I will have to make a concerted effort not to plan every meal, every day out of this delectable cheese that has made an unexpected reappearance in my life. I’m telling you, this changes everything.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure why Daiya seems to remain such a secret amongst vegans even though it’s been out for months. Maybe each person who finds it wants to stockpile it for themselves, for fear that the supply will run out? The company seems to be focusing on distributing to the food service industry (yay!), but the veg community does a lot of home cooking. To that end, until the retail version is released, the lovable folks at Pangea are repackaging the food service version so that we can get our hot little hands on it right away. Thank you, Pangea cheese angels!

What else? Oh, it’s kosher and free of many allergens: soy, wheat, barley, corn, rice, gluten and nut for starters. For goodness sake, see their website for the particulars; I need to go make some baked macaroni & cheese!

10 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Mark

    on #

    For information about what’s in Daiya “cheese:”
    http://soulveggie.blogs.com/my_weblog/2009/04/daiya-responds-re-vegan-cheeses-ingredients.html

    FYI, Mark

  2. Comment by

    Alexa

    on #

    Daiya is indeed amazing! Been making gooey pizzas with the Daiya, chopped garlic, basil with the vegan pizza dough from Whole Foods. Sooooooooooo Good. The tater skins sound amazing, have not had one of those in a long time.

    Slice perfect restaurant on the Upper East side is offering Daiya on slices or pies. Also, they are selling the cheese itself in half pound bags so you can take it home.
    Here’s the address:

    Slice, the perfect food
    1413 2nd Ave
    New York, NY 10021
    P: 212 249 4353

  3. Comment by

    Rachael

    on #

    Get this amazing awesome vegan cheese at Blossom on the Upper West Side! The vegan chicken parm sandwich will blow your mind!

  4. Comment by

    hope

    on #

    Foodswings is also serving up the wonderful daiya cheese. Try any of our parm sandwiches, philly, or midnight munchies individual pizzas. Enjoy!

  5. Comment by

    Melody

    on #

    Foodswings is now using Daiya cheese! we are really excited about it. it’s making stuff on the menu that was already great even more amazing. :)

  6. Comment by

    viN

    on #

    It might have canola oil in it. Canola is bad 4 u
    http://www.creationsmagazine.com/articles/C126/Horowitz.html

  7. Comment by

    Pete

    on #

    Your local Whole Foods will probably carry it, or ask another health food store to carry it. I just out through the local vegan grapevine that here Tucson AZ, Whole foods is now carrying cheddar and Italian Daiya shreds!

    It truly is amazing. I could never eat the other vegan cheese brands and this one really does taste like cheese.

  8. Comment by

    Matthew Marshall

    on #

    I don’t get all the excitement over Daiya cheese. I’ve tried it in two different restaurants, and both times I was very underwhelmed.

    It is ok – but not great. It brings it’s own flavor, which is a bit overpowering. Also, I find the melted consistency a bit yogurt-like.

    I think I prefer FYH.

    However, if you are allergic to soy, this is probably your best option.

    – Matt

  9. Comment by

    Danny

    on #

    Daiya is also available at VSPOT, on our menu and available for sale to take home. We sampled some pizza ideas today that were great, hoping to put them on the menu soon.

  10. Comment by

    veganjoyce

    on #

    I am late to trying Daiya (not sure why) and now i am totally obsessed. Literally. Tonight I made baked ziti- first time eating baked ziti in 10 years. Unreal! I bought a 1/2 pound bag at Slice and some slices too and when I got home I loaded up the pizza with more cheese from the bag; it was amazing. Also, FOODSWINGS’ new mozzarella stix are to die for. Foodswings, I hope you put them on your regular menu soon but for now I might have to trek there at midnight from Queens! (please put on your reg menu!!) :)

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