Here's how I know I am certifiably insane. Despite being in a near constant state of craving mac 'n' cheese and turning to well-curated cheese plates as a legitimate form of therapy, I have chosen to go vegan for 40 days (and 40 nights). Wipe that better-you-than-me look off your face and allow me to explain. It's Lent, otherwise known as the pre-Easter season of sacrifice in the Roman Catholic faith and, as someone with a particularly difficult digestive system, I thought what better way to wave a white flag at my increasingly irritated intestines (lactose is both my enemy and savior) than to give them a freaking break. Call it a conniption, but here I am.
Veganism, itself, isn't so challenging. There are actually legions of brands and restaurants churning out food products suitable for the entirely plant-based population. And, it turns out, a lot of them have the same cravings as me because there exists an entire world of vegan foods aimed directly at people who need to ingest the flavor of dairy (at the absolutely least) every single day. It's just a matter of finding which ones taste more like cheese and less like cheeze ... if you know what I mean.
In the spirit of insanity, I've done the taste-testing for you and gone ahead and rounded up the best vegan products that will have you saying more cheeze pleaze.
Note: I'm also gluten-free normally (I know, I know) so all of the products below are wheat-free, as well!
WATCH: This Vegan Ice Cream Recipe Couldn't Be Simpler—or More Delicious
1. Amy's Rice Mac & Cheeze
Mac and cheese isn't mac and cheese unless it's so creamy and rich that it requires breaks every two to three bites. This Amy's frozen dish achieves that. Not only does it taste exactly like its dairy-filled counterpart, but it's microwaveable and can be ready to eat morning, noon, or night in less than five minutes. Find it here.
2. Daiya Cheezecake
There's been a massive uptick in brands churning out non-dairy versions of their most popular ice creams, but sometimes (all the time) you just want some cheesecake. Daiya fills that decadent hole with its line of cheezecakes. Each one is solid, but soft like normal cheesecake—and equally indulgent as it, too. Drizzle peanut butter on a slice of the chocolate and fruit pie filling on the plain for an added touch of class. Find all the flavors here.
3. Vanleeuwen Vegan Ice Cream
Vanleeuwen's artisan ice cream is a popular mainstay in New York City and Los Angeles because of the brand's ridiculously creamy and flavorful (full dairy) homemade ice creams. So it's no surprise that they also do vegan ice cream just as well. The vegan blends are made with things like house made cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil—and the end result is an insanely decadent, indulgent blend that comes in a slew of creative flavors. Run, don't walk to order it here.
4. Daiya Pizza
Pizza, like death and taxes, is simply a necessity. It's not something I was willing to give up when I went gluten free and it's not something I'm willing to give up during my time as a vegan. Fortunately, Daiya knocks it out of the park with seven ... SEVEN ... delicious pizza substitutes, none of which are soggy nor cardboard-y. Pro tip: Buy or make extra marinara dipping sauce and it's like you never had to forfeit Domino's. Find it here.
5. Soft Fresh Truffle Dill & Chive Cheese
Whenever I tell anyone I'm vegan, the first thing they say is "But what about cheese?" And honestly, for awhile I asked myself the same thing ... But what about cheese? Then I discovered Kite Hill and their brie-like rounds of creamy cheesy perfection. These artisan offerings are made with almond milk and come in fancy flavors like truffle dill and chive. They even make a ricotta substitute. I genuinely challenge you, vegan or not, to add one of these cheeses to your next normal cheese plate and see if anyone can tell the difference. Find it here.
6. Silk Strawberry Almond Dairy-Free Yogurt
I haven't been a big yogurt eater since graduating pre-school, but I do love almond milk and, being gluten-free, yogurt is an excellent grab-and-go breakfast (R.I.P. bagels). Silk's almond milk yogurt is by far my favorite. It's one of few that sort of congeals in the cup and its texture and flavor is the closest to regular dairy-filled yogurt.