It annoys the bejesus out of me that so many so called “cheese alternatives” actually contain dairy.
Dairy refers to milk and any part of milk that comes from cows and other mammals. So to be dairy-free, a product must have no milk and no part of milk. Lactose, on the other hand, is merely an ingredient in milk, or a part of milk. It is the sugar component of dairy products. So a product that is dairy-free will not have lactose in it. What this means is that a product which is dairy-free is also lactose-free, but a product that is lactose-free is not necessarily dairy-free. Make sense?
A person with a milk allergy is often allergic to two protein components of milk, casein and whey. These are often found in products labeled lactose free because although they are part of dairy in the same way that lactose is part of dairy, they are separate from one another. A product can remove the lactose but the rest of the milk can still be there!
The milk protein casein is often what gives soy cheese its (slightly) cheese-like flavor and texture. If you’re not a label hawk, it’s very easy to grab some soy, rice, or even almond cheese at the grocery store and not notice that CASEIN is an ingredient. This is deceptive labeling and a real pain in the derriere. (I hope you got that pun.)
The longer I’ve been vegan the more I’ve gravitated from processed to raw, whole foods. However, I started off as a supermarket vegan and I believe it’s important to support both lifestyles. Let’s face it, you’re not going to reduce animal suffering by bashing vegan processed foods. What matters is that people are trying. You can still offer a helpful nudge without coming off like like a douche. You could say, “That’s so great you’re trying vegan cheese! Have you tried raw cashew cheese? It’s cheaper, there are zero preservatives, and it’s positively scrumptious!” See what I did there?
If you’re on the market for faux vegan cheese →Double Check The Ingredients!← #VegansofIG