Vegan Alternatives to Cheese, Butter & Other Dairy Products

Vegan substitutes for cheese, butter and sour creamTaking the plunge into veganism can be an easy step for ethical and health reasons--in theory, anyway. Your taste buds, however, may have a slightly different reaction. We acclimate to the foods we eat repeatedly—developing new preferences over time—and in some cases, never. (Asparagus, just give up already; it's never going to happen!) Desire for certain flavors and textures may never leave us, regardless of why we gave them up in the first place. Vegan converts know this; and the booming mock-meat, faux cheese and nondairy beverage category certainly speaks to the power taste has over us.

Try these vegan energy bars

For many vegans, mock-meats have it down when it comes to the texture and flavor of real meat. Faux dairy, on the other hand, is notoriously a bit more challenging. Many of those processed dairy products can also contain a wide variety of gelling agents and stabilizers, artificial colors, flavors and the dreaded trans fats. No thanks! We've put together a list of some of our favorite DIY-style recipes and some recommended products that get it right. Check out the list below and let us know in the comments your favorite recipes or nondairy products.



I won't lie. It's pretty darn close to impossible to replicate the texture of cheese without some sort of hoofed mammal involved. But, that hasn't stopped anyone from trying. Daiya, the latest on the market with "melting" cheese (vegan cheeses notoriously do not melt), has received rave reviews from vegans and dairy eaters alike. For hard "biting" cheeses, Dr. Cow makes an unbelievably tasty aged nut cheese. And if you're a mac 'n cheese fan, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how simple it is to make your own. Check out this basic mac and cheese recipe, and this one using pumpkin.


Fake butters can use a lengthy list of unnatural ingredients to convey the flavor and texture of dairy butter. They're not worth it. Instead, develop a taste for unrefined coconut oil. Spread it onto toast, use it in dessert recipes, sauté with it and add it to smoothies for a healthy fat that's also delicious.

Sour Cream

The base of any good dip, sour cream is a versatile ingredient. While you can always replace it with a quality nondairy yogurt, you can also check out these easy recipes you can make in a few minutes. It's also terrific as a vegan mayonnaise substitute and base for creamy dressings. Use organic tofu in this recipe, or try a raw cashew cream. And here's a recipe for a vegan mayonnaise. The brand Follow Your Heart also makes quite a few varieties of vegan mayonnaise, including a soy-free version, that are incredibly popular among vegans and non-vegans alike.

When it comes to nondairy milks, there are plenty of options at the supermarket. You can also easily make your own without any added fillers or preservatives.

Read more about avoiding artificial preservatives

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Photo credit: Rick

By Jill Ettinger| October 28, 2013
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a freelance journalist and marketing specialist primarily focused on the organic and natural industries, she bridges her love for changing the food system with her lifelong passion for writing and connecting people in their shared values. You can connect with Jill on Twitter and Instagram.

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