Most grocery stores these days carry some type of soy cheese that is lactose free, which you can usually find in the produce section. What might surprise you, though, is that even though these cheeses say they are lactose free that does not mean they are dairy free. Some soy cheeses still contain ingredients that come from milk, which means they are not vegan.
Casein is a protein that comes from milk. It is the ingredient you have to look out for when you’re shopping for a soy cheese that is vegan. The soy cheeses that are labeled “lactose free” are the ones that usually contain casein. You also have to watch out for calcium caseinate, which is essentially the same thing, just worded differently.
The Purpose of Lactose-Free Cheese
You might be wondering what the point is in removing the lactose from the cheese if it still contains dairy. Lactose-free cheese is made for people who are lactose intolerant, not vegans. In other words, people who can’t eat cheese, rather than people who just choose not to. Casein is added to the lactose-free soy cheese to give it a consistency that is more like real cheese. It’s as simple as that.
Vegan cheeses made from soy will usually clearly state on the label they are casein free. They will also say “vegan” somewhere on the packaging. Not all vegan cheeses are soy-based, either. Vegan cheeses can also be made from almonds, chashews, and rice. Daiya, Veganrella, and Follow Your Heart are three popular types of vegan cheese.
Make Your Own Vegan Cheese
I don’t like the pre-packaged vegan cheeses, so I tend to just make it myself. It’s actually not that hard to make and it costs less money. Most vegan cheese recipes are nothing more than a simple mixture of tofu or cashews and a handful of seasonings. Checkout our roundup of vegan cheese recipes.