Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

    ‘Tis the season to brie VEGAN? MailOnline tests plant-based Christmas cheeses – so, do they stack up against their dairy counterparts?

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    For millions of Brits, no Christmas Day feast would be complete without a festive cheese board.

    But as it becomes harder to ignore the carbon footprint of animal products like meat and dairy, many are trying to try eco-friendly alternatives.

    There are numerous food startups with plant-based products that try to imitate the real thing.

    One example is the London-based company Honestly Tasty, which wants to show “vegans and non-vegans alike” that “delicious plant-based cheese is possible.”

    Three of their products are named after their animal counterparts (Shamembert, Pretenslydale and Good-A), but are they any good? MailOnline finds out.

    Honestly Tasty is a London-based food company that wants to “redefine cheese for vegans and non-vegans alike.”

    MailOnline tested three cheeses from the company: Shamembert (above left), Pretenslydale (above right) and Smoked Good-A (below).

    Honestly Tasty’s ‘cheeses’ are made from a variety of vegan ingredients including water, salt, coconut oil, potato starch and lecithin (fats found in plant tissue).

    They range in price from £4.29 to £8, but customers can also purchase festive hampers containing various cheeses starting from £45.

    MailOnline started with the Pretenslydale, which is modeled after Wallace and Gromit’s favourite: the light and brittle Wensleydale that hails from North Yorkshire.

    Although it looks a bit like a bar of soap you get at the Body Shop, Pretenslydale is filled with blueberries, giving it a pale pink color and a pleasant fruity aroma.

    Rather than crumbly like Wensleydale, its consistency is more pâté-like, although this made it easier to spread on a biscuit.

    Taste-wise, it reminded me of those pink Mini Milk popsicles I used to have as a kid, but with an added bitter taste that probably comes from the added “citrus fiber.”

    The overall effect wasn’t unpleasant, but I can’t imagine Wallace traveling to the moon to get something.

    Although it looks a bit like a bar of soap you get at the Body Shop, Pretenslydale is filled with blueberries, giving it a pale pink color and a pleasant fruity aroma.

    Honestly Tasty’s ‘cheeses’ are made from a variety of vegan ingredients including water, salt, coconut oil, potato starch and lecithin (fats found in plant tissue).

    Next, a small slice of Shamembert, Honestly Tasty’s version of the creamy French Camembert cheese, and definitely a staple of my Christmas cheese board every year.

    Shamembert has a really impressive ‘rind’ around it, complete with wrinkle lines, which to the touch even feels remarkably like Camembert, like a damp sock.

    Based on this, I believe that many discerning cheese connoisseurs would not be able to distinguish it from real cheese, until they cut it.

    Instead of the nice, sticky yellow interior that Camembert is known and loved for, to me the insides of Shamembert seemed a little sad and gray, almost paste-like.

    As I bit into it, all I could taste was a big explosion of salt, which may be due in part to the presence of carrageenan, a natural additive from red algae, in the ingredients.

    Perhaps I’d do better with Smoked Good-A, the company’s tribute to Gouda, the creamy hard cheese from the Netherlands.

    Shamembert certainly looked fantastic, right down to the wrinkle lines in the “rind” of the cheese.

    I think many discerning cheese connoisseurs couldn’t tell it apart from real cheese, until they cut it.

    Instead of the nice, sticky yellow interior that Camembert is known and loved for, the insides of Shamembert were slightly tinged gray.

    Smoked gouda has to be one of the tastiest dining experiences known to man, so it would take something special to match it.

    Taking a deep sniff of the ghostly white block, the smoky aroma was unmistakable, so I had high hopes when it entered my mouth.

    Good-A was easily the best of the three, largely because the smoky flavor came through and its consistency matched that of a genuine hard cheese.

    Surely for any vegan, I think this would go well on a Boxing Day cheese toastie with any leftover faux turkey.

    But will Honestly Tasty products take up space on my holiday cheese board this year? The honest answer is probably no.

    Pictured: Smoked Good-A. Taking a deep sniff at the ghostly white block, the smoky aroma was unmistakable.

    I am well aware that livestock (cows, sheep and goats that need to be milked for cheese production) release enormous amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, which contributes to global warming.

    I know that cheese and meat have the highest carbon footprint, along with other animal products like eggs and yogurt.

    But I am also an unconditional lover of hard cheese, and if at any time of the year it is time to treat yourself, it is Christmas.

    Herein lies the problem: until we get to the point where low-emission imitators like this one are as good as the real thing, we will be fueling a climate crisis.

    To offset my emissions, I prefer to replace every other part of the Christmas feast with a vegan option, be it turkey or even pigs in blankets.

    Please don’t take away my Camembert.

    Vegan cheese has ‘little nutritional value’ and eating too much may increase risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, expert says

    For many people, the hardest thing about going vegan is giving up cheese.

    Food manufacturers have desperately tried to recreate the creamy taste and moist texture, without dairy.

    But in addition to not tasting like the real thing, vegan cheeses are also worse for your health, according to one expert.

    But a nutritionist has warned that vegan versions of dairy products increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

    Plant-based substitutes supposedly have “little nutritional value” and contain many more bad fats than the originals.

    Vegan cheese eaters may also miss out on the nutritional benefits of dairy cheese, which naturally contains protein, calcium, iodine, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

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    ‘Tis the season to brie VEGAN? MailOnline tests plant-based Christmas cheeses – so, do they stack up against their dairy counterparts?

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