I Miss Cheese: A Vegan Complaint
My plan was to buy vegetables and plants at my local farmer’s market.
What wasn’t on my shopping list?
A vegan lunch.
My plans changed after I saw a sandwich truck advertising vegan bacon mac n’ cheese. The sign enticed me, making me forget my long history of cheesy disappointment. So many promises of meaty and cheesy pleasure have failed to deliver, but hope springs eternal. I took a chance on the food truck and bought the vegan mac n’ cheese. At home, I gazed at the gooey, elbow pasta in yellowish-white cashew cheese sauce.
I felt relieved. It looked good. It also smelled good. Really good.
(The bacon was clearly fried mushrooms.
But this I could accept.)
After filling my mouth, my joy vanished. The flavor wasn’t what my mind, tongue, and stomach craved. Once again, vegan cheese had failed to deliver, and while I ate every bite of my lunch, I still disliked it enough to write this 523-word complaint.
(Important aside: Vegan bacon is never good. Again, that is yet another separate complaint.)
To begin, most vegan cheese is okay. Some of it, like the type with a mucous-like consistency, is a horror show. The strongest compliment that I can give to vegan cheese is to say some of it is almost very good. I don’t hate it and am thankful that it exists. I eat it. I buy it. I’ve made it but will never be repeating that mistake. I will pay an extra fifty cents to have it added to vegan sandwiches. I’ve even been the evangelizing vegan out with her meat-eating friends claiming, “This cheese is really good!”
But if I’m going to be honest, I must admit that vegan cheese consistently disappoints me.
Vegan sour cream is very good. Vegan cream cheese is very good. I love non-dairy ice cream, and plant-based milks are, dare I say it, superior to dairy milk. However, cheese remains a problem.
When it comes to taste and texture, the former comes closest to authenticity. Judging only taste, cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, and pepper jack of the dairy and nondairy varieties are pretty close. The problem with this match is that it makes the glaring deficiencies, texture and satisfaction, much more noticeable. I can’t speak for everyone but the first bite of vegan cheese is usually the best. The first bite is a hopeful one. It has yet to be ruined by the slimy, slippery, gooey or crumby reality that reminds me that I’m not really eating cheese.
By the second bite, I gag. Just a little. That is when I notice the tapioca taste and feel or the rubbery faux cheddar or the fact that the almost perfect mozzarella crumbles instead of tearing. I am, for a short time, devastated.
I pause before taking the third bite. When I return, I am resigned to my fate and force myself to half-heartedly enjoy my meal. I will continue to buy vegan grilled cheese sandwiches each time I see them on a menu. And with my plate covered in crumbs, I will never stop complaining about it.
Sammie James is a comedian, actor, writer, story teller, and show producer from New Jersey. Her comedy special “your Mom loves me” is out on Youtube. Sammie has performed all over the country; including past appearances at Cinder Block Comedy Festival, Charm City Comedy Festival, Plano Comedy Festival, Queen City Comedy Festival, Bechdal Test Fest, Speak Up Rise Up Story Telling Fest, Flappers Comedy Club, Good Good Comedy Theater, Broadway Comedy Club and more.