Vegan Adventures In Veggie Land: Part 2

Not all vegan cheeses are created equal...

As part of trying out new vegan products - new to me at least - I've been trying to find a 'cheese'. It's not technically cheese as there is obviously no dairy. In the past I have found this absolutely impossible, as all the ones I've ever tried have been absolutely awful. I mean, really totally disgusting. Would it be any different this time around?

Well, yes and no. I've tried a number of different cheeses this time, as it's the first time more than one was available locally. We're a backwards little town in many ways, so its unsurprising that veganism hasn't really caught on here yet.

This first vegan cheese I tried in a few years was the Violife Original Flavour Slices. I'd seen them in my local Morrisons quite by chance, so I thought I'd buy them. I wasn't expecting much, based on past experiences. At £2.49 for just 10 slices, they are rather expensive. But that's true of almost all vegan products at the moment sadly. It's still a fairly niche market, so I expect it will be a while before prices come down.

I like to eat cheese on its own. I always have ever since I was a small child. I also have a preference for very strong tasting cheeses - even as a small child I'd happily tuck into a bit of Stilton even though I knew adult who couldn't stomach it! So when I opened these to find a very strong smell, you'd expect me to be quite pleased. I was not. In fact, the smell was rank. It was so strong and off-putting that I even checked the date on the packaging, just to make sure they hadn't gone off!

Ancient Chinese proverb say "With strong smell comes strong cheese." Well, that's not entirely true. I made it up. Maybe there is a proverb that says that. Who knows? If there is, it most certainly does not apply to this cheese. It is very bland indeed. It really doesn't taste of anything. The texture is also slightly, but only slightly, rubbery. If they could improve the flavour and the smell, and the extortionate price came down, I'd probably buy this again though.

Next up was the Violife Original Flavour Block. Having tried the slices, I was expecting more of the same from this. As far as the smell and textures goes, it's exactly the same. The off-putting thing was the taste. I'm not really sure I can describe it. It wasn't as disgusting as other vegan cheeses, but it wasn't pleasant. The odd thing is, it's basically the exact same product as the slices, but in block form. The ingredients are the same. I even tried slicing it as thin as the slices are, and it was still unpalatable. I have no idea why this should be the case, but it is.

Lastly, and by all means least, were these hideous monstrosities. They were without a doubt the worst thing I've tasted in years. If anyone from the product development team from Sainsbury's should happen to read this - you should be ashamed of yourselves. The texture was dry and powdery, as though the slices had been badly reconstituted from dry powder during production. The smell was revolting, a strong, sickly, rotten sort of affair. As for the taste... It was so bad it could be used to torture people for information - and they'd give up said information very quickly. Someone on Twitter told me that their carnivorous friends actually like these! I can only imagine that the friends were either being extra nice and careful to avoid offending anyone's sensitivities (after all, as a world we have gone a bit bloody soft...) - or they had imbibed so much alcohol that their tastebuds no longer functioned. At all.

This kind of faux-cheese is one very strong reason why I will not become a vegan anytime soon. It's generally awful. Most vegan cheeses I've tried are exactly like the Sainsbury's abomination above - so I'm not just picking on them. The Violife ones which are available in these parts aren't bad, they're just a bit naff. None of them are even remotely good enough to even consider switching from dairy. Until things improve vastly, I'll be sticking with good old extra mature cheddar thank-you-very-much.

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