Cheese is an umami bomb that’s actually mildly addictive. When your body digests this tangy, smooth, earthy, buttery food, its casein protein gets broken down into casomorphins, which attach to dopamine receptors in the brain to trigger cheese cravings. But for cheese enthusiasts who choose veganism for ethical or health reasons, consuming cheese made from animal’s milk becomes an issue. Since the invention of the first recorded vegan cheese (fermented tofu originating in either China or Okinawa), modern vegan cheese now rivals its dairy counterparts in causing addiction.
The plant-based lifestyle is becoming increasingly financially and locationally accessible in Hong Kong, with items like OmniEat meals available at 7-Eleven. Here is a list of stores that stock imported vegan cheese, as well as local creameries making their own ethically-sourced cheese alternatives.
What is vegan cheese?
Vegan cheese is made from a variety of products: tree nuts, seeds, soy protein and tofu, coconut, aquafaba, or starchy flours like tapioca or potato flour. These bases are often combined with flavourings like salt, nutritional yeast, herbs, and lemon juice to create “cheezes” of all flavors, textures, and consistencies that will make you unlikely to miss dairy.
Where to buy vegan cheese
Bella Cucina is a Hong Kong-based company that makes custom charcuterie boards. They produce unique dairy cheese “nuggets” in experimental flavors like Everything Bagel, Delizia Alle Olive, Truffle Luxe, and Chocorange (chocolate and orange-infused alcohol). These nuggets all come in vegan versions which maintain the complexity of their flavors.
Price: Starting from $85.
Where: Order through their Facebook page or on Whatsapp at +852 9035 1158.
Founded in 2016 by raw chef Shima Shimizu, FoodCraft’s mission is healthy food without sacrificing taste. They create their own cream cheese made from tofu and coconut oil, and stock Greek company Kolios’ coconut-based cheese slices, USA-based Miyoko’s Creamery cheese wheels, Hong Kong-based Nuteese’s whole line of cheese made from fermented cashews, and Italian company MozzaRisella’s “mozzarella” made from brown rice. FoodCraft also hosts cooking classes for making their cream cheese from scratch, vegan gnocchi, and baking gluten-free sourdough.
Price: Starting from $40.
Where: Order online or find it at City Super, IFC.
Garden Hill is a locally based creamery which produces small batches of “pepperjack”, “mozzarella”, and sharp “cheddar” cheese as well as an herby spreadable cream cheese made from tofu. The company was founded by professional chef Jan Yeung, who previously forefronted the development of vegan cheese recipes at renowned vegan restaurants Grassroots Pantry and Nectar.
Price: Starting from $70.
Where: Order online or find it at SloWood (Sha Tin and Kennedy Town locations), Edgar (5 Moon Street, Wan Chai), and farmer’s markets on weekends.
Daiya is a brand from Vancouver, Canada available at select stores in Hong Kong that makes all of its vegan products from cassava and arrowroot. The properties of these natural ingredients give their cheese its meltability and convincing consistency. Daiya’s chive & onion cream cheese spread and cheddar, gouda, and monterey jack products are well-known for their ability to imitate real cheese.
Price: Starting from $45.
Where: Order online at SloWood or Green Common, OR find them in-store at SloWood, a zero-waste grocery store, which has locations in Kennedy Town (The Hudson, 11 Davis Street, Sai Wan), Discovery Bay (Shop 151, Discovery Bay Plaza [Block C]), Sha Tin (Shop 247, New Town Plaza I), or at Green Common, a grocery store-cafe chain, has several locations across Hong Kong.
Happy Plantarian is a Hong Kong-based company creating artisan vegan cheese founded by sisters Althea and Tansy Tan. Their products combine nuts/seeds and organic soybean and are cultured with gut-assisting probiotics. Their offerings include parmesan, burrata, brie, cheddar, goat, gruyere, gouda, mozzarella, pesto lemon, and baby bleu cheezes, a cream cheeze series, and cheeze bombs. The pair also offer plant-based cooking and baking classes to assist people transitioning to vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.
Price: Starting from $180.
Where: Order on Whatsapp at +852 6545 1996 or email [email protected].
Short for “Keeping it Real and Raw”, KIRR is an online eco-living platform offering ingredients, beauty products, jewelry, slow fashion, and natural baby & pet supplies, all with the focus of living minimally and consciously. They keep a number of dairy alternatives on stock including Cypriot company Green Vie’s parmesan, gouda, and cheddar slices, Daiya’s New York Cheezecake and Cheeze Lover’s Pizza, Kolio’s Vegan Cheese Slices, and La Taula’s locally crafted cheeses with flavors including Corriander Mint Chutney Cheese, Artisanal Miso Cheese, and Coconut Ricotta.
Price: Starting from $29.
Where: Order online.
Kite Hill is a collaboration between acclaimed vegan chef Tal Ronnen, French cheesemaker Monte Casino, and Stanford biochemist Dr. Pat Brown. They aimed to create a vegan product that doesn’t just mimick dairy cheese, but exists as its own delicious entity. All of their products are created from almonds sourced in California: tangy cream cheese in Chive, Everything, and Garden Veggie flavors, and Ricotta Alternative.
Price: Starting from ~$100.
Where: Find it at City Super locations across Hong Kong.
Chef Kanch Porta Panjabi founded this artisanal vegan cheese company in Hong Kong. La Taula’s cheese wheels come in a variety of indulgent, luxurious-sounding flavors like Smoked Truffle Pepper Cream Cheese, Almond Fennel Ricotta, Smoky Spicy Cheddar, and Seaweed Truffle Cheese through their online store or through their carefully selected subscription boxes available via pick-up on Hong Kong Island or delivery. Committed to sustainability, La Taula delivers their cheeses on ceramic dishes that the customer can choose to keep or send back for reuse.
Dubbed Hong Kong’s first dedicated vegan cheese shop, Le Fromage was created by raw vegan chef Tina Barrat, the chef behind vegan fine dining restaurant Ma… And the Seeds of Life. Over 20 flavors of handcrafted, lovingly aged vegan cheese wheels in flavors like Pink Peppercorn Brie, their Sans-Goat logs, garlic-inspired Moon and Earth cheese, and spirulina and tofu creation North Pole Star cheese are available at their online and physical store. They also feature other local companies’ keto bread, vegan pates, and vegan butter.
Price: Starting from $80.
Where: Order online or find it in-person at Unit 21, Shop B201, K11 MUSEA, Tsim Sha Tsui.
Nuteese is a locally based company founded by plant-based chef Amy Elkhoury, launched in November 2020. The brand creates aged vegan cheeses all made from fermented activated nuts: Cam Meets Brie, Smokey Cheddar, Sundried Tomato Aged Cashew Cheeze, Black Truffle Aged Cashew Cheeze, Hot N’ Smokey Aged Cashew Cheeze, Holy Umami. The decadence is in the details: their Cam Meets Brie, which is carefully aged in a cellar for 20 days, even has a rind like the real thing.
Price: Starting from $115.
Where: Order online or on WhatsApp at +852 9267 7886.
Representing the New Territories, One Vegan Shop supplies vegan snacks, supplements, and personal care items in Yuen Long. They keep a variety of Sheese products on stock. Scotland company Sheese creates vegan alternatives for plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets. They make a range of sharp and subtle creamy cheese spreads like the Spring Onion & Cracked Black Pepper wheel, grated Italian Parmesan, and melty Greek style cheese made from coconut oil and potato starch. Notably, their Smoked Germany Style Sheese won Best Vegan Cheese at the 2019 Vegan Cheese Awards.
Price: Starting from $65.
Where: Order online or in-person at Shop 1, G/F, Transport Plaza, 2-6 Fung Cheung Street, Yuen Long.
Header image credits: Mammiya via Pixabay