Vegan cheese can be a good option for lactose-intolerant people. It is also a great option for people which don`t eat foods from animal origin. Although there are many reasons not to eat processed vegan foods, some people might prefer this type of food readily available in supermarkets. But you can even make your own vegan cheese. This will help you learn about the various ingredients which go into a vegan cheese and will also make you appreciate the process. Once you`ve made your first cheese you`ll also be able to better assess the quality of the products you can buy in stores.
The benefits of vegan cheese
There are many nutritional benefits which come with vegan cheese. Most of these benefits will, however, vary depending on the used ingredients. Unlike dairy products where you know what type of nutrients to expect from milk, vegan cheese is made from many more recipes.
Vegan cheese provides good nutritional value
It must be said from the beginning that a vegan diet will be lower in fats that an animal-sourced diet. Generally speaking, this means that vegan diets are lower-risk for some high-fat associated conditions such as diabetes or obesity.
Vegan cheese is thus also lower in fats, at least in saturated fats. Saturated fats have been associated with some of the conditions above and can have a negative impact on your health. However, not all fats are bad. Some healthy fats come from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil etc. These fats actually help your body absorb vitamins and minerals. A low body fat is a sign of dangerous health parameters. Although it might differ from person to person, men usually have a lower body fat than women. Biologically speaking, this can mean women need a higher percentage of fat in the daily nutrition than men.
This being said, vegan cheese is considered to be low and very low on fats. If you plan to reach your daily caloric fat goals from this type of cheese you should calculate the needed serving size with each meal. This can be compared to the total daily calories, which are around 2.000 for most people, slightly more for men and slightly less for women.
Another point to consider with vegan cheese is the total number of carbohydrates per serving. There are studies which show that you should be consuming most of your calories in the form of carbohydrates. The percentage varies, but it can go as high as 60% from your total number of calories. So carbohydrates are important and this is where vegan cheese falls short. Although the general serving size may vary, you can`t expect more than a few grams of carbohydrates for each.
This means you`ll be very low on carbohydrates. Being that they are an important source of energy which is absorbed fast by the body, you can`t replace a quick energy source which can go straight into your blood system with fats or proteins to the same degree. This might also explain why so many vegans tend to lose weight when switching from an animal diet. And it is not only down to the carbohydrates themselves but even to the serving size. Since you will be eating a plant-based diet you should increase your portion sizes to make up for the extra needed calories. This is why you should also eat more vegan cheese than regular dairy cheese to get all the calories your body needs to sustain its daily activities.
Another micronutrient present in vegan cheese is protein. Protein plays such an important role in muscle, bones and hormonal balance that you should even calculate the total daily amount you should be consuming. Vegan protein source which goes in the vegan cheese can include soy, peas or various almonds. While they are great healthy protein sources, they are also very fast absorbing. This means you`ll feel hungrier sooner than if you ate protein sources from meets. Food combinations are thus getting increasingly important in vegan diets.
How to combine vegan cheese with other foods
To make the most out of vegan cheese you will need to combine it with other foods to get a complex nutrition. These foods need to come with a complete range complementary carbohydrates and proteins as we`ve seen above.
In terms of carbohydrates, a quick combination of vegan cheese can be made with bread. There are many types of bread you can choose from. White bread is still fine if you eat them in moderation but the best bread might be one with seeds which can also add proteins to your meal.
Other carbohydrate sources might include pasta or potatoes. So if you`re preparing a vegan dinner and need to make some choices on the food combinations you can add paste to boost the complexity of the meals.
Fibers are also important for a healthy nutrition. While you vegan cheese might come with some fibers from nuts and other ingredients, it may also be beneficial to add some additional options which will slow the digestion time, especially before bedtime which means you won`t wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Some good combinations might come with asparagus which has been shown to come with amazing health benefits. You can also use brown rice or beans to boost the overall fibers of your meals or gluten free foods.
In the end, when you compare vegan cheese with dairy cheese you can see that the first one is lower in caloric content. This doesn`t mean it`s not good for you, as it comes with plenty of healthy ingredients. But it might mean you will need to combine the vegan cheese with other foods to see some benefits from its use, especially in the first phase of veganism when you might be inclined to lose weight. Make sure this is not your case and properly use carbohydrates and fibers to make a complete meal which has the nutritional value to help you achieve your daily caloric needs.