Veganism might not seem like a difficult lifestyle change for a health-conscious planet warrior. But mess with someone’s mozzarella and they may change their tune. Vegan cheese, however, is evolving, and doing so for the better.
Studies show that eliminating cheese is among the hurdles that people face when transitioning to a plant-based diet. If you’ve tried any of the various kinds of vegan cheese, you probably understand why. To many consumers considering changing how they eat, plant-based cheese alternatives don't often live up to their dairy-containing counterparts. Now, the brand So Delicious Dairy-Free is doing its part to change such perceptions with its plant-based lineup.
So Delicious and the transformation of cheese
The company, which has been in business for more than 30 years, says it is devoted to providing superior plant-based cheese that competes with the real thing. All So Delicious products are dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free and are also verified by the Non-GMO Project. Its "more than the minimum" philosophy promotes thoughtful choices in all business facets: ingredient sourcing, packaging and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
For National Cheese Day earlier this month, the company even awarded one contest winner an entire year of free So Delicious cheese products. The goal of So Delicious is to create cheese with the same commitments as its other dairy-free products, all while keeping taste at the top of the requirement list.
Once occupying a small niche market, vegan cheese is here to stay
Globally, the vegan cheese market was estimated at $2.5 billion in 2021, and is expected to grow almost 13 percent by 2030. Plant-based lifestyles, particularly among millennials, has boosted this expansive growth. Currently just over 60 percent of U.S. households are currently buying plant-based products.
Over the last decade, the popularity of plant-based food products and lifestyles has skyrocketed. Awareness of animal cruelty, the negative impacts on the environment caused by the dairy industry, and rising acceptance of various health-related allergies such as lactose intolerance, have all contributed to making veganism and flexitarian diets more mainstream.
Vegan and vegetarian diets are expected to revolutionize the food industry world-wide. More restaurant companies are putting themselves on the map to include diet-friendly menu items. Fast food chains including KFC and Burger King have been test marketing plant-based chicken, Chipotle added vegan chorizo, and Cold Stone Creamery has rolled out an almond-based ice cream — the list goes on.
Large franchised chains are seeing these long-term trends and are jumping on the all-inclusive bandwagon. Not only will food corporations see a spike, but even vegan food tourism will continue to grow as demand for plant-based food does the same.
The links between dairy production and climate change
Switching to plant-based cheese can reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent compared to dairy cheese, but studies show that many shoppers do not fully understand how greenhouse gas emissions are tied to food production.
Manure produced by dairy cows creates greenhouse gas emissions, and when handled incorrectly, can taint local water resources. Additionally, unsustainable farming practices can affect the future of prairies, wetlands, and forests, all of which are ecologically essential.
On top of that, consumers often think that meat production alone has the biggest effect on climate change. According to the World Economic Forum, the dairy cheese industry emits more greenhouse gasses than the production of pork, chicken and eggs.
A recent study completed in the U.K. suggests that vegan cheeses produce less than half of the climate impacts and require less than one-third of the land compared to dairy-based cheese.
When passion becomes palatable
Whether they lie in concern over animal rights, personal health, the planet or otherwise, the reasons to try vegan cheese certainly speak volumes. On that point, So Delicious Dairy-Free and other plant-based food companies are furthering their mission to make the taste of their products equally as enticing.
Image credit: So Delicious
Katie LaMarca is a writer based in Madison, WI. She is passionate about sharing stories encouraging thoughtful and sustainable consumption of food, clothing and other products. She has written for the telecommunications industry, a national out-of-home advertising agency, a world-ranked university, various news outlets and more. In her free time, Katie enjoys traveling, yoga and cuddling her two food obsessed, anxiety-ridden cats.