One of the things you don’t have to give up when you go vegan is a great bagel. But what about the cream cheese? Yes, vegan cream cheeses exist. The only problem is choosing the best one! So, what is the best vegan cream cheese on the market today? Meet our contenders!
Our Favorite Dairy-Free Vegan Cream Cheeses
Vegans have asked for great tasting dairy free cream cheese, and the market has answered. Here’s a selection of vegan cream cheese options to tickle your taste buds.
Violife Vegan Cream Cheese
Violife Vegan Cream Cheese is a coconut oil based cream cheese alternative. It uses potato starch as a thickener.
Violife’s cream cheese has a similar nutritional profile to regular cream cheese. That is, the majority of calories come from saturated fat. However, Violife’s vegan cream cheese is 30 percent lower in calories than regular cream cheese. Violife is also cholesterol free.
Violife’s vegan cream cheese is also dairy free, gluten free, and Kosher.
Treeline Plant Based Cream Cheese
Treeline Plant-Based Cream Cheese is a cashew based vegan cream cheese. It contains cashew cream, as well as sunflower oil.
Nutritionally, Treeline’s cream cheese recipe has quite a few advantages over real cream cheese. A 28 gram (two tablespoon) serving has 10 percent fewer calories. Although it has the same amount of fat, almost none of it is saturated fat. It even has a bit of protein, like real cream cheese.
In addition to being vegan, this cream cheese is certified non-GMO, gluten free, and Kosher.
Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Ice cream fans may recognize this brand from their legendary Cuties. But Tofutti also makes vegan cream cheese options, including Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese.
Tofutti’s cream cheese recipe contains a mixture of tofu, soybean oil, palm fruit oil, and olive oil. It’s fairly low in calories and, surprisingly, fat. It’s also cholesterol free, gluten free, and certified Kosher.
This could be a great option for people avoiding nuts.
Miyoko’s Creamery Organic Vegan Plant Based Classic Plain Cream Cheese
Vegans with a taste for the gourmet may enjoy Miyoko’s Creamery Organic Vegan Plant Based Classic Plain Cream Cheese. This is a cultured cream cheese, which means that it contains special fermenting organisms. If you’re a fan of cultured butter, this may be one of the best vegan cream cheeses for you.
Miyoko’s Creamery uses a vegan cream cheese recipe that’s based on organic cashews and organic coconut cream. It’s quite reasonable in terms of calories, and has less fat than some other vegan cream cheese brands. It packs a hit of three entire protein grams per serving, and is cholesterol free, too.
Miyoko’s Creamery Classic Plain non dairy cream cheese is certified USDA organic, certified Kosher, and certified cruelty free.
Kite Hill Chive Almond Milk Cream Cheese Style Spread
If you’re an almond milk lover, then Kite Hill Chive Almond Milk Cream Cheese Style Spread could be one of the best savory vegan cream cheeses for your bagel.
This creamy spread is made from almond milk and flavored with chives and mushroom extract. It also contains live cultures.
Kite Hill’s spread is dairy free, soy free, gluten free, non-GMO, vegan, and Kosher.
This could well be one of the best vegan cream cheeses for almond lovers.
Daiya Plain Dairy Free Cream Cheeze Style Spread
Daiya Plain Dairy Free Cream Cheeze Style Spread‘s non dairy cream cheese recipe contains a base of coconut oil and coconut cream.
Daiya cream cheeze is relatively low in calories and fat, though most of the fat that it does contain is saturated. This product also contains pea protein, which acts as a thickener, and is also responsible for the two grams of protein per serving.
This product is certified soy free, gluten free, and non-GMO.
Spero Plain Dairy Free Cream Cheese
Spero’s vegan cream cheese alternative is made from sunflower seeds and coconut oil.
The advantage of sunflowers is that they’re a lot less water intensive than almonds, require less land than cashews, and don’t produce nearly as much CO2 as dairy.
This spread has quite a bit more in terms of fat and calories than many similar spreads. But the fat is almost all unsaturated, and if it’s protein you’re looking for, Spero’s spread has more than any of the other brands in our survey.
It’s also an amazing source of Vitamin E, thiamin, and magnesium.
With recyclable packaging, this one is as much for the planet as it is for our bagels.
Grounded Hemp Seed Cream Cheese
Grounded Hemp Seed Cream Cheese brings the goodness of hemp to your bagel. What do we mean by goodness?
First, hemp seeds are packed with nutrition. They’re an excellent source of calcium, protein, potassium, vitamin D, and magnesium.
If that’s not enough, hemp production is actually good for the environment. It doesn’t require pesticides, it enriches the soil, and it helps to increase biodiversity. (1)
Grounded’s creamy spread is made from a combination of hemp seeds, sunflower oil, and coconut oil. For stability, it contains rice flour and tapioca flour.
If you’ve always been curious about hemp seed products, this could be a planet friendly place to start.
Vegan Cream Cheese FAQs
Do you still have questions about vegan cream cheese? We have a few answers!
What is Vegan Cream Cheese Made From?
Traditional cream cheese is made from milk. A manufacturer adds a curdling agent, such as lemon juice, to milk or cream. Once the curds coagulate, they are drained and run through a food processor. That’s it!
Different vegan cream cheese brands use various plant products to make their vegan cream cheese. Popular ingredients include soy, cashews, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, and oats. Manufacturers may also combine ingredients.
Because dairy free milk doesn’t coagulate in the same way, dairy free cream cheeses contain thickeners to keep them stable at room temperature. These may include potato starch, tapioca starch, rice flour, pea flour, xanthan gum, organic gum arabic, and others.
Vegan cream cheeses come in a variety of sweet and savory flavors, and may contain garlic powder, onion powder, chives, fruit, or delicious herbs.
Some vegan cream cheese alternatives contain lactic acid to enhance the savory flavor. Fear not, vegans! Lactic acid is found in milk, but non dairy lactic acid can also be created through the fermentation of various plants.
Is Vegan Cream Cheese Healthier Than Dairy Cream Cheese?
This depends on your specific goals and health needs.
Vegan cream cheese is naturally cholesterol free, so for people who are reducing dietary cholesterol, vegan cream cheese is definitely a healthier option. Vegan cream cheese is definitely a better option for people who are lactose intolerant or otherwise sensitive to dairy.
People with nut allergies, however, should carefully check the ingredients on their vegan cream cheese, as many varieties are made from nuts or coconut. The same goes for people avoiding soy.
Some types of vegan cream cheese, like some types of dairy cream cheese, are higher in fat than others, so people following a low fat diet should choose carefully. However, for people avoiding saturated fat in particular, vegan cream cheese is definitely the healthier choice.
Is Vegan Cream Cheese Good for the Planet?
This depends on what’s inside.
Many dairy free cream cheese brands use earth friendly ingredients like sunflower seeds, hemp, cashews, and coconut. Others may contain almond milk or palm oil, both of which are hard on the earth.
What’s wrong with almond milk?
Well, it takes liters and liters of water to grow a single almond, yet 80 percent of commercial almonds are grown in drought stricken California. And palm oil production has resulted in deforestation of vital rainforest areas, devastating endangered species, and eliminating one of the ways the earth protects itself from climate change.
On the other hand, vegan foods made with hemp, flax, cashews, sunflower seeds, and coconut are less earth intensive. And hemp and flax cultivation are even good for the planet!
This is why many vegans may avoid products with certain ingredients, even if those ingredients are plant based.
Can You Cook With Vegan Cream Cheese?
You can use many types of vegan cream cheese exactly as you would use dairy cream cheese.
Can You Make Your Own Vegan Cream Cheese?
Yes! It’s pretty easy, too.
The process is similar to that for making milk based cream cheese.
To make a nut based cream cheese alternative, for example with cashews or almonds, pour boiling water over your nuts and let them soak for 20 minutes or so.
Drain the nuts and put them into a blender. Blitz, and slowly add the non-dairy milk of your choice, until you achieve the desired consistency.
Now comes the fun part: the flavorings.
For sweet cream cheese, try adding fruit or fruit juice. For savory cream cheese, you can experiment with spices, herbs, nutritional yeast, or different vegetables.
For a nut free cream cheese, try silken or firm tofu. Blitz it in a food processor until it’s silky smooth. If you want an extra tang, add a bit of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
So, Who Makes the Best Dairy-Free Cream Cheese?
The best dairy free cream cheese will, of course, depend on your taste buds. But for our money, we really like Grounded Hemp Seed Cream Cheese.
The nutritional balance of this product is difficult to beat. It has a significant amount of calcium, protein, potassium, vitamin D, and magnesium. What’s more, its production is extremely earth friendly.
Treeline’s plant based cream cheese is a close second. Not only is it nutritionally quite sound, but it’s also made from environmentally friendly cashews and sunflower seeds. On top of that, it’s certified non-GMO, gluten free, and Kosher.
Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese could be a great option for people who are avoiding nuts, and, by extension, coconut. This is a soy based product with other vegetable oils.
Vegans, rejoice. We now have loads of dairy free options for our shmear. What’s your favorite non dairy cream cheese alternative? Did it make our list? Tell us about it in the comments!
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About The Author:
Jess Faraday is a vegetarian from a family of vegetarians. A recent vegan, she wants to spread the word about the benefits of plant-based eating for health, for animals, and for the planet.
- Elephantasticvegan | Almond Cream Cheese | https://www.elephantasticvegan.com/almond-cream-cheese/
- The Hidden Veggies | Tofu Cream Cheese | https://thehiddenveggies.com/vegan-cream-cheese/
- Jane’s Kitchen | Dairy Free Coconut Cream Cheese | https://janeshealthykitchen.com/dairy-free-coconut-cream-cheese/
- European Industial Hemp Association | Ecological Benefits of Hemp and Flax Cultivation and Products | http://eiha.org/media/2014/10/Ecological-benefits-of-hemp-and-flax-cultivation-and-products-2011.pdf
- The Anti-Cancer Kitchen | Easy Vegan Cream Cheese | https://www.theanticancerkitchen.com/easy-vegan-cream-cheese-recipe/