I had heard the rumors. The myths. The, dare I say, legend.
If you haven't, Daiya is a vegan cheese that not only melts and tastes amazing (which some, if not all, vegan cheeses do) but it's the only vegan cheese that STRINGS the way cow's milk cheese does. And it is a thing of beauty.
The other weekend I was at Sweetpea Vegan Bakery with friends and simply wanted a grilled cheese. I had no idea that Sweetpea used Daiya. When my sandwich came, I took a bite and tasted the deepest richest most cheddary flavor I've tasted in years. Like Cheezly but more American-tasting. All well and good, but when that bite was done and I looked at it...
Look at that! Look how stringy and perfect! And it's vegan! Food science, I love you.
Because here's the thing about vegan cheese:
the good stuff is very good, the bad stuff is very bad. It must be said that we vegans don't crave cheese the way omnis and vegetarians do. Cheese from animals contains substances called casomorphines which are structurally similar to morphine. Like morphine, they make you feel good and you really can get mildly addicted to them. They are present in cheese because they are present in milk, and they are present in milk so that a calf will be drawn back to his/her mother's udder and keep eating and getting big and healthy. So when people say "I could never be vegan because I love cheese too much" or "I could give up everything but cheese" it's not just that cheese is the Best Food Ever In The World. If you've been eating something all your life and it contains chemicals designed to keep you eating it, yeah, it's gonna seem hard. But it takes three weeks for you to learn a new habit, and like I said, longtime vegans are living proof that the craving goes away. (We weren't born vegan, after all.) But that doesn't mean that cheesy things don't taste good. While some vegan cheeses, I will be the first to say, taste like plastic and vomit and I wouldn't wish them on anyone, some are seriously good. My older omni brother has had Cheesly and agreed that it tastes good. But DAIYA. Oh my. I want to make pizza with it. I want to make pizza with it and walk around my dorm pulling slices up stringily and saying "God I hate being vegan. Look at this crap I have to eat."
Also, for the millionth time, I am so happy I live in Portland now. I love the vegan minimall. Spring is sprouting in Portland, and it's such a joy to sit outside a vegan minimall on a February Saturday eating delicious vegan food (I had a bite of a friend's seitan au jus - YES, vegan au jus! - sandwich and it was as delicious as mine) and bumping into people like Josh Herbivore.