We’ve looked to our Greek heritage for inspiration with this flavor, toss in a crispy salad with olives and cherry tomatoes or melt into a Portobello mushroom for a delicious snack.
Feta cheese is in just about everything. It’s in wraps and sandwiches, it’s in pasta and salads, it’s in quiches and spinach pies, and it’s even used in desserts and served by itself as a snack. This soft, crumbly cheese is also a staple of Greek cuisine, appearing in many classic dishes like spanakopita, bouyiourdi, and Greek salads. It’s so light and airy that you can use it in just about any recipe. Due to its low fat and calorie content, it’s often marketed as a healthier alternative to full-fat cheeses. Once a rarity in grocery stores, feta can now be found just about anywhere, with several brands dedicated to manufacturing this versatile cheese.
When you adopted the vegan lifestyle, you knew you’d have to give up milk-based cheeses. But feta is so light and creamy, you’re not sure if there’s a vegan alternative that can replicate it. Can a block of tofu capture the way that feta crumbles off the block? Or capture the light, slightly salty flavor that sets feta aside from other cheeses on the plate? At this point, you’re starting to think that you’ll have to do without. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of vegan alternatives to feta on the market that will have you enjoying Greek salads again without a hitch.
Why Should I Switch to Vegan Feta Cheese?
You’ve heard about the horrors of the dairy industry, but you also know that feta is traditionally made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. You haven’t heard much about those industries, so maybe feta is safe to eat after all? Surely it’s not harming the animals if they’re milked occasionally while living happily in a Greek countryside.
Unfortunately, the goat milk industry is just as cruel as the cattle industry. Like cows, goats must be impregnated to start producing milk. Once the goats give birth, their babies are torn away from them and either raised to produce milk themselves, or slaughtered if the babies are male. Some male goats are killed for their meat, while others are killed pointlessly and tossed aside like garbage. The ones that are kept for meat are painfully mutilated before finally being slaughtered.
Milk-producing goats have slightly longer lifespans, but their lives are still brutally cut short. In the wild, goats can easily live for over twenty years. But in the goat’s milk industry, a goat is only valuable as long as she produces milk. When she stops producing enough milk, the goat is killed when she’s only three or four years old. As much as the goat industry is marketed as a “cruelty-free” alternative to cow’s milk, the goats suffer just as much and have brutally short lifespans.
While sheep tend to fare better, they still suffer from painful surgical procedures that are typically performed without anesthesia. And despite the growing number of free-range sheep farms, many sheep are still crammed into cramped indoor buildings where disease and pestilence run rampant. Additionally, humans have no right to take goat’s or sheep’s milk regardless of the animal’s welfare. The animals can’t consent to having their body fluids taken, and the milk was produced for their babies, not for us.
What is Vegan Feta Made From?
Homemade vegan feta is usually made from tofu, as it closely mimics the shape, color, and texture of traditional feta. Extra flavorings like nutritional yeast and apple cider vinegar are added to give it that classic mildly salty taste. Some recipes also recommend adding olive oil for an extra boost of Greek flavoring. Store-bought brands are typically made from different ingredients like potato starch and coconut oil.
Does Vegan Tofu Feta Cheese Compare to the Real Thing?
Absolutely! Plant based feta is actually one of the easiest vegan cheeses to make because tofu mimics the texture so well. You can easily make it at home by blending tofu with the right spices and flavorings, then placing it in the fridge and slicing it into cubes when it’s firm. Plant based feta is light, soft, crumbly, and mildly grainy and salty–just like the real thing.
How Can I Use Plant-Based Feta Cheese?
You can use vegan feta in just about any recipe that calls for traditional milk-based feta. The plant-based cheese can be sliced into cubes for salads, stuffed into wraps and pasta shells, spread over pizza, and grated and sprinkled over dishes. You can even make tofu feta without firming it up and use it as a delicious cheese dip. Like authentic feta, tofu feta is mild and can take on a wide variety of flavors. Experiment with different spices, sauces, and flavorings to find your favorite.
Where Can I Find Plant-Based Feta Cheese?
Despite being easy to make, plant-based feta has not yet caught on with the mass market. You might be able to find a variety or two at your local grocery store. If they don’t have a vegan cheese section, try a gourmet food store or your local health food store. You can also go online to have plant-based feta delivered straight to your house. Not sure where to start? We’ve got a list of high-quality, peer-reviewed brands right here on our website. Once you get started, you can rate the ones you like and even start adding your own favorites.
If you’re going to an actual Greek restaurant, you probably won’t find plant-based feta on the menu. For this reason, it’s best to stick to home cooking when preparing authentic Greek dishes. You’ll enjoy the health and lifestyle benefits without sacrificing taste or flavor.
Is Plant-Based Feta More Nutritious than Traditional Feta?
Like most vegan alternatives, tofu-based feta is healthier for you than the traditional dairy-based version. Feta is often marketed as a healthy alternative to fattening cheeses like cheddar and Swiss. But it’s still cheese, and it comes with all the baggage that entails. One serving of feta contains all the saturated fat that you need for the day and then some. It’s also loaded with sodium and cholesterol, and even contains a few grams of sugar. It might taste delicious, but it’s essentially a cube of fat and salt.
Conversely, plant-based feta is made from lighter, healthier ingredients like tofu and apple cider vinegar. Tofu is essentially a “blank slate” food with only a small percentage of fat and sodium. It also contains essential nutrients like protein, calcium, and iron. When you start swapping out cheese for plant-based alternatives, you’ll find that you’re consuming much smaller amounts of fat, sodium, and calories. You can enjoy the same serving sizes without the guilt.
Plant-based feta is also a great option for people on special diets. While goat’s milk is often marketed as the “safe” alternative to cow’s milk, many people with lactose intolerance are still unable to consume goat’s milk. Plant-based feta allows them to enjoy feta cheese without putting their health at risk. Tofu-based feta is also a healthy alternative for people looking to reduce the amount of fat, sodium, and cholesterol in their diet. If you have a family member who’s at risk for a heart attack or stroke, substituting full-fat cheese with plant-based alternatives can make a difference in their health.