No animal suffering, but just as tasty and nutritious: that’s what many conscientious consumers expect from vegan cheese. Can this work? An expert explains it.
Many vegetarians are not vegan simply because they simply cannot do without cheese. Milk, yogurt, eggs? No problem! But you can not do without cheese. It’s understandable, because cheese made from milk contains a naturally addictive substance that also works wonders in humans (FITBOOK reported). With the vegan variant, many expect an equally great “cheese experience” without animal suffering. British nutrition researcher Richard Hoffman once took a closer look at the current offer and wrote for the scientific journal “The Conversation” what to look for in vegan cheese.
There is hardly any difference in texture and appearance.
Thanks to increased demand, the range of vegan cheeses is diverse and often looks deceptively real, says the expert. Texture, appearance, and even blendability – everything as it should be. To achieve this, starch and oil are needed, mainly coconut or palm oil. “Both are low in nutritional value,” notes Hoffman. “For example, when we eat starch, it breaks down into sugar in our intestines. Over time, too much starch could lead to weight gain or diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”
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Make sure neither palm oil nor coconut oil is on the ingredient list
“Coconut oil is mainly made up of saturated fatty acids,” warns the nutrition expert. They increase the level of bad LDL cholesterol in the blood, which ultimately increases the risk of heart disease. This is the case for lauric acid, the main type of saturated fat in coconut oil. Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your vegan cheese is that it does not contain any palm oil either. This is not better, apart from its production, which is problematic for the environment. “About half the fat in palm oil is saturated fat, mostly a type called palmitic acid. Like lauric acid, it increases the risk of coronary heart disease.” The expert also points out that there is no “sustainable palm oil”.
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Vegan cheese does not usually contain hardly any protein
While milk cheese is a good source of protein, vegan cheese has little to offer. “The amounts and types of vitamins and minerals that vegan cheese contains also vary significantly, as it’s up to the manufacturer to add them during production.” What is often missing is: calcium, iodine, vitamin B12, vitamin K and vitamin D. All important for healthy bones and metabolic function. All of these are naturally contained in milk cheese, so they can be better absorbed by the body. And: Vegan cheese is an ultra-processed product and therefore, strictly speaking, belongs to the category of luxury items and not food.
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If vegan cheese, then this guy…
It’s not all bad news for vegan cheese lovers. “Vegan cashew-based cheese is actually very healthy. It also contains a lot of protein.” The only drawback: It tends to be quite expensive. Fortunately, cashews also provide a large amount of L-tryptophan. From this, the brain “retouches” the hormone of happiness, serotonin, so! which is included a happy kick!
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A healthy vegan diet is possible
Finally, nutrition expert Hoffman stresses that the decision not to eat animal products is absolutely welcome. However, vegans once again need to be careful to really get all the nutrients. A vegan diet is only healthy if it consists primarily of “natural foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.” carefully.