Cheese is often the reason people give for not being able to go totally vegan. On top of sandwiches, pasta, crackers, tacos and whatever else — cheese definitely has a way of adding a creamy, savory and satisfying hit to any snack or meal. But some Colorado businesses and restaurants are striving to create that same experience of cheesy goodness — only without the dairy. Making a delicious range from smoky cheddar and spicy queso to ricotta and Gorgonzola, here are six Colorado-based companies and eateries making their own vegan cheese.
Let Thy Food
Let Thy Food strives to produce completely plant-based, nutrient-dense foods, including vegan dips, spreads, dressings and Superfood Parms — spicy blends made with American-grown hemp as a dairy substitute. For the cheesy dips, there’s Queso Blanco, Hatch Valley Queso, Smoky Chedd’r Dip and Chile Con Queso. Superfood Parm options include Santa Fe Jack, Smoky Chedd’r and Spicy Italian — perfect for shaking over pizza, soups and salads. Find Let Thy Food at Whole Foods Markets and other specialty markets, or buy it online. Learn more at letthyfood.com.
The Honest Stand
What started out at a small Denver farmers' market has grown into a substantial business, as Denver-based Honest Stand recently received $1 million in investment money to expand. All of Honest Stand's cheeses are not only free of dairy, but are also paleo-friendly, certified organic and gluten-free. Organic vegetables and nuts are used to create Garlic Parm Style, Smoked Cheddar, Cheddar, Mild Nacho and a Spicy Nacho. Find The Honest Stand at Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and Nooch Vegan Market. Learn more at TheHonestStand.com.
Beyond Better’s cheese products are powdered mixes that become a creamy spread or dip with the addition of boiling water. Each package has a long shelf life of two years. Flavors include Original Cashew, Zesty Black Bean, Spicy Queso and Savory Sunflower Seed, which skips the cashews for those with tree nut allergies. The brand is certified kosher and can be found at Natural Grocers and Whole Foods stores along the Front Range or on Amazon.com. Visit beyond-better.com for more information.
Peaceful Rebel Vegan Cheese
Peaceful Rebel creates dairy-free cheeses that have a satisfying taste and texture as well. All of the cheeses are handmade in small batches. Varieties include classics such as herbed feta, meltable mozzarella, smoked Gouda, sharp cheddar and Swiss. But there are also creative twists, including chipotle American with a bit of heat, chocolate port wine, and whiskey bacon with a sweet, smoky mesquite flavor. Find them at Nooch Vegan Market and Lucky’s Markets in Longmont, Boulder and Wheat Ridge. Other locations are listed on Peaceful Rebel's website.
630 East 29th Street, Loveland
Loveland is a little outside the Denver/Boulder hunting ground of most metro-area seekers of vegan eats, but vegan sandwich shop Crash Cuisine is worth the drive. Housemade cheeses are available to top meatless “meat” sandwiches — turkey, pastrami, bacon, and buffalo chicken, for example. The cheeses include Gorgonzola, dill Havarti, herbed feta, mozzarella and a cheese sauce. The restaurant's homemade cheese is also used to top pizzas.
Famous Original J’s
715 East 26th Avenue
Famous Original J’s is known for thin, New York-style pizza in Denver. Even though the menu is a simple list of New York classics, owner Josh Pollack still manages to add in a few vegan options. The vegan mozzarella is the Follow Your Heart brand, but the ricotta and parmesan are made right in the pizzeria's tiny kitchen. The parmesan is a blend of almonds, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic and salt, and the ricotta is also almond-based, mixed with vegan lactic acid, oil, salt and water. Top pies with the vegan cheeses, along with tomatoes, fresh garlic, mushrooms, black olives and green peppers for an East Coast flavor adventure without the animal products.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.