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Dairy or Plant-based cheese?

Regular cheese can be made with milk from cows, goats, sheep, water buffalo, and others. Nowadays, the need to reduce the consumption of animal products but also the need for alternative food options developed the plant-based cheese production. Those are based on nuts, oils, grains, soy, and other plant products.


Why should I choose plant-based cheeses?

  • I'm a vegan/vegetarian

  • I am lactose intolerant

  • I have an allergy to milk protein

  • I want to reduce my intake of animal products

  • Because I like them

Plant-based cheese alternatives are produced using techniques similar to those used in the production of processed dairy cheese.

An emulsion is created which may contain oils and protein from plant sources, water, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and natural flavorings. Preservatives, such as olive extract or sorbic acid, and coloring agents are also present in many of them. Coloring agents are usually beta-carotene or annatto. Other methods such as applying heat, acids, or enzymes may be used.


Regular dairy cheese is typically considered a good source of protein and calcium. On the contrary, protein and calcium content of the non-dairy cheeses are zeroes.

A study comparing 245 plant-based cheeses found protein and calcium levels to be zero (table below). At the same study only 3% of the products reached 5 g of protein per serving.


(Craig, et al., 2022)


Another study found that compared to dairy products alternative cheese have higher total fats, Saturated fats, and carbohydrates and lower protein, salt, and sugar than dairy cheese

(Boukid, et al., 2022)


In conclusion, nutritionally, dairy cheese is consider superior than plant-based alternatives and at the present, non-dairy cheese alternatives should not be considered as a nutritional replacement for dairy cheese.





References:

  • Craig, W. J., Mangels, A. R., & Brothers, C. J. (2022). Nutritional Profiles of Non-Dairy Plant-Based Cheese Alternatives. Nutrients, 14(6), 1247. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14061247

  • Boukid, F., Lamri, M., Dar, B. N., Garron, M., & Castellari, M. (2021). Vegan Alternatives to Processed Cheese and Yogurt Launched in the European Market during 2020: A Nutritional Challenge?. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 10(11), 2782. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10112782

  • Mefleh, M., Pasqualone, A., Caponio, F., & Faccia, M. (2022). Legumes as basic ingredients in the production of dairy-free cheese alternatives: a review. Journal of the science of food and agriculture, 102(1), 8–18. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.11502

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