Tag Archives: Dairy free

Vegan cheese

So I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a while. Cheese is a biggie! For most people, cheese is what comes between them and a life of living cruelty free.

Sounds funny that doesn’t it, when you see it written in black and white, that one measly meagre food item could be so humongous and pivotal in swaying or detering someone from abstaining from cruelty?! Or their goals to live a life that’s better for the environment, or better for their health. But it’s true. People love cheese. And people don’t just love cheese – People are literally addicted to cheese. Read on to find out more…

When I first went vegan 4 years ago I struggled to give up cheese (& eggs) after having been vegetarian for 13 years. But once you know the truth you can’t unlearn it. So once you know better you do better. I hated vegan cheese at first and felt sad and a bit pissed off about it. But then I remembered why I was doing it (not for myself or my taste buds but for the animals). So I kept going and kept trying different cheese alternatives. I now love loads and there are so many different types (even just here in Scotland alone!) – I even like ones I hated at first because once you go vegan your taste buds completely change.

So let’s first rewind 4 years ago to January 2014. I was doing Veganuary and the very first vegan cheese I tasted was Tesco’s own. Now this was before the relaunch of their ‘free from’ range – this was a very different, very substandard offering… let’s put it this way when I tasted it that first time, with such high hopes and enthusiasm for my new vegan lifestyle, I nearly cried. Well, to be accurate, I spat it out and then nearly cried. IT WAS VILE!!!

But I didn’t let that deter me. I ordered a starter pack from the wonderful Vegusto, and jumped for joy on tasting their delicious Swiss artisan cheezes.

They were savoury and delicious and I could eat it cold on crackers or warm on pasta. It wasn’t the taste of cheese I was used to but it filled my cheesy void and it was a flavour I could get used to.

So Vegusto was on repeat order online and was what fed my cheese cravings in those early days.

I then tried a cheese from the Cheezly* range by UK based Vbites foods. Again I was disappointed and didn’t like them at all. And then I tried Sheese* by Scottish company Bute Island foods. Again, I was disappointed and did not enjoy it one bit. *NB I will refer back to both of these in just a moment!

So after much trial and error, mostly error, my first big revelation with vegan cheese came courtesy of Violife. Now a big leading name in vegan cheese on both sides of the pond, Violife were what saved me from a life of doom (ie a cheese-less life!)

Violife is reminiscent of American style processed cheese – it tasted and felt familiar, with no confrontational smell or funny taste. It was mild and unassuming… almost reminded me of edam in texture. Violife was my first major win with a Vegan cheese that I could eat regularly, and in ways I’d previously eaten cheese. It was a triumph in many ways.

I then tasted another Scottish offering by Nutcrafter Creamery – artisan nut based cheeses. Absolutely delicious. The only downside is that they’re not as easily available and the quality hand crafted product comes with a price tag to match. But I treat myself once in a while.

Early 2015 I went out with vegan friends to a veggie place and one of the things we shared was cheesy chips. They were so yummy! I enquired as to what vegan cheese they used and on discovering it was my once detested Cheezly, I set about sourcing some for myself asap! On this discovery I realised that either they’ve changed their recipe (unlikely) or my taste buds have changed in the course of being vegan. Triumphant I stocked up and have never looked back – Cheezly is now to this day probably my overall favourite vegan cheese. (More on this below).

Inspired by this victory, I then tried Sheese again (the other one I very much disliked at first) and who would have thought?! I loved it as well! I’ve bought it and enjoyed it ever since…

…So when Tesco relaunched their vegan cheeses along with Sainsbury’s last year I stocked up, delighted to have such a range of choice of flavours and styles so easily available. Not many people realise that Bute Island foods are the wizards behind both these supermarket’s vegan cheeses. I think one of the best things about these cheeses are that they melt so well, but again more detail on this below.

My husband went vegan last June and he can’t stand vegan cheese! And so instead of trying to make himself like them he’s simply not having them! It’s not the end of the world for him! …but the reason so many people struggle to give up cheese is because of casein (morphine like substances in casein act like opiate receptors in our brains) hence why people feel literally addicted to cheese. But the sad reason it has this effect is because dairy milk is breast milk intended for a baby. A baby needs milk to grow hence the addictive effect; it’s to ensure the young keep going back to the breast for more. Except the milk isn’t going to her young – it’s going to the mouths of humans in the form of cheese and ice cream.

If you want to find out more about the damaging effects of dairy on the environment and your health and the cruelty involved,  please check out the following links:

http://www.NationEarth.com (watch Earthlings documentary for free)



Here are some of the best vegan cheeses available in the UK and some more info on them:

Violife – probably the most easily available vegan cheese in the UK, most supermarkets sell this brand and it is very reasonably priced. The normal variety doesn’t melt very well but there is a Violife for pizza block that melts better. Like I mentioned above the taste and texture is reminiscent of a processed American cheese, almost rubbery but very mild in flavour and aroma.

*I would recommend Violife first and foremost for people transitioning to a vegan diet and lifestyle.

Vegusto – available online and from specialist health food style shops. A bit pricier but worth it because they are really good.

*Vegusto is another good introductory cheese for people transitioning.

Cheezly – made by Vbites, offer a range of cheese styles and varieties. I love their edam melted on toast – it’s not like a dairy edam so if you ever see it I urge you to buy it to make the most amazing melted cheese on toast! Available in Holland and Barrett and other health food shops.

Sheese – made by Bute Island Foods, excellent for melting and all types of cooking. Try their cheddar spread for an excellent Dairylea style spread. Available under the Sheese brand from Holland and Barrett and other health food shops. Or also available as the vegan cheeses available in Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Nutcrafter – organic artisan cheeses. I can really recommend them as they are exceptional! Available locally in central Scotland or can be bought online.

Tyne Chease – another fantastic artisan cheese offering, also made using organic ingredients, available from their own website or alternativestores.com

Finally, my last word on vegan cheese… whatever reason you are going vegan or eating more plant based, my advice to all would be to avoid all alternative cheeses for the first month or 2, or longer, if you can. The reason for this is to let your taste buds change and adapt (because believe me, they will and they do!) and then you can introduce these vegan products once your palate has been renewed, and you will likely enjoy them much more than if you try them right away and are disappointed or put off by how different they are to real dairy cheeses. You may even find that you lose all notion for needing or wanting to eat them at all!

If you find you’re struggling because the addiction is just too real and you really want to cave and eat some actual cow’s cheese, just google ‘dairy is scary’ and that will help you get back on track!

Good luck friends and enjoy this whole new world of vegan cheese that awaits you!


Plant milks

There are a plethora of plant milks on our supermarket shelves, and for the newbie to all things non-dairy it can be a bit of a mindfield.

Yes there are many and I have tried many; over the last 4 years since I stopped buying cows’ milk, the availability and options have grown and grown. It’s absolutely fantastic and there is so much range and choice… literally whatever your need, there’s a plant milk for that.

I tend to have several on the go at once because I like different ones for different uses, for example I like almond milk in my cereal but I prefer soy in my tea etc.

Also, although plant milks may seem on the surface to be a bit dearer than their crueller counterparts, they actually last a lot longer… one carton in my house can literally last 2-3 weeks before starting to go a bit off!

Plus there is the bonus of being able to buy in bulk and so having a good stock of milk at the ready, therfore running out of milk and running out to the shop in your slippers is a thing of the past!

So here is my list of top milks – I’ll start with what I use for tea & coffee, then for other uses… and I’ll explain a bit at the end as to why dairy is indeed scary.

Tea & coffee

My best bet / failsafe milk for tea is any supermarket own brand long life soy milk. I don’t like to have any flavour in my cup of tea (i.e. some almond milks have a strong taste) and these ones don’t taste of anything so they are ideal. Plus they don’t split/ curdle. You can get them in the longlife/ UHT milk section of the supermarket. They are mega cheap and last for absolutely ages.

Aldi own plant milks are good too.. also very cheap and found on the aisle shelf, not in the fridge.

I recently discovered Alpro organic whole bean soya is great in tea and coffee also…

…and my new favourite is from M&S – “Multi grain drink” – which is perfect for tea and coffee 💚

People swear by Oatly barista for coffee but I’ve not tried it yet.

I don’t drink coffee very often so I never dedicated the time to finding out what works best,  but apart from those mentioned above, some almond milks do work, as well as oat and cashew.

However, I believe the tricky aspect with coffee is that different blends/ types etc will affect the outcome of any type of milk. So what works for one person with their coffee, won’t necessarily work for you with yours! So it really is a case of trial and error.

In general I find rice milk too watery so I rarely buy it. We mostly have soy for tea and almond for everything else. Hemp is nice though as is coconut for smoothies and cereal etc.

The plant milks sold in the fridges tend to be a bit pricier than the ones kept on the aisle shelves, in my experience, so that’s something to take into consideration when it comes to price.

Most supermarkets do their own versions of plant milks so depending on what your nearest stores are you’ll have different ones to try.

Just have a bit of an experiment and play about and find what’s fits your tastes and uses best.

So now you know a bit more about what milks to start with, maybe you’re wondering why stop using dairy at all?

There are 3 main avenues of reasons why – the first being the cruelty involved, the second being the benefits to the environment and the third being the benefits to your health.

So let’s start with the first – cruelty. Dairy is extremely cruel. A female must first be impregnated (forcibly and against her will – in the industry they even use the term ‘rape racks’) she will then be pregnant for 9 months to give birth to a baby that is then taken from her, so that the milk intended for her baby can be given to humans.

Many people that have witnessed this report the mothers cries for her baby are beyond heartbreaking and gut wrenching. Her baby is then usually sold off to become veil and she is destined to a life of torture – this cycle of rape and birth continues for a female cow throughout her young life, so that she can keep producing milk to be sold to humans – adult humans that don’t even need her milk anymore than we need our own mothers milk beyond infancy! But more on this later.

Dairy cows are used and abused in this way until their poor tortured and exhausted bodies can’t take anymore, at which point they are sent to slaughter to become a burger for 99p.

In terms of human health, cows milk is no more necessary for a human than dogs milk or rat milk. Humans are the only species to drink the milk of another species and to drink it past infancy.

Why cows milk? They are big and able to produce lots of milk in large quantities; they are also docile, trusting animals, easily coerced and manipulated into doing as we demand.

Cows milk could also be referred to as bovine growth formula, or baby calf growth fluid – “The purpose of cow’s milk is to turn a 65-pound calf into a 700-pound cow as rapidly as possible. Cow’s milk IS baby calf growth fluid.” Dr. Michael Klaper

It contains IGF growth hormones, which are perfect for cows but not for humans! There are links to carcinogenic factors and accelerated cancerous growth in humans. Aside from this it contains antibiotics given to the lactating mothers against the multitude of infections those poor animals are subjected to, as well as hormones, puss and blood residue. To find out more on these topics please check out Dr Klaper (link to article below) and The China Study.

The intense farming of cows for dairy across the world is one of the biggest contributors to the destruction of our environment – for the best further insight on this please watch Cowspiracy the movie.

So by giving up dairy you actually gain a lot, lot more: you refrain from contributing to the abuse of animals, you help towards easing the burden on our environment and you also make a better choice for your health. It’s a win, win, WIN!

So we’ve started with milk, next I’ll dedicate a post to vegan eggs and cheese alternatives and replacements, of which there are many!



http://www.NationEarth.com (watch Earthlings documentary for free)




Chickpea ‘tuna’ mayo


My girls go crazy for this chickpea toona… OK they go crazy for near enough anything but they do know a good thing when they see it.


This chickpea tuna salad or ‘chickpea of the sea’ as some folk call it, is so easy to make and such a yummy alternative to regular fishy tuna mayo. Before I went veggie over 17 years ago tuna mayonnaise was one of my favourite things and I’d have it regularly. Hubby also was a big fan (prior to himself going veggie 2 years ago and vegan a year ago) so it’s nice to have something that’s reminiscent of flavours and textures we used to enjoy.

Not to mention it’s blinking brilliant as a jacket potato filling or even used to make a ‘tuna melt’ on a panini or toasted sandwich with some vegan cheese (as a cheese addict I’ll be sharing a blog post dedicated to vegan cheese and the best ones out there as well as the optimum ones for specific purposes… melty cheese pizza? there’s a cheeze for that).

So for this chickpea tuna, the key ‘of the sea’ flavours come courtesy of seaweed. You can use any type of seaweed such as nori flakes etc but here’s a pic of the ones I use.


I use 2 different types of dried seaweed – this one my mum got me on the left and also this smoked one my friend gave me. Mix in with some vegan mayo and/or salad cream, fresh lemon juice and some other bits n bobs and, well, Bob’s your uncle!

A delicious cruelty free alternative to hurting our fishy friends and damaging the oceans, result!

Chickpea-of-the-sea salad

You will need:

  • 1 tin or carton of chickpeas
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • seaweed/ nori flakes
  • vegan mayonnaise and/or salad cream (approx 1tbsp of each)
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1tsp white wine/ Apple cider vinegar (or use the vinegar from one of the jars listed below)
  • Combinations of the following: capers, cornichons/pickles, celery, sweetcorn, dill, parsley
  • sea salt


  1. Drain and roughly mash chickpeas.
  2. Add variations of the following: lemon juice, vinegar, capers, cornichons, celery, sweetcorn, dill, parsley, seaweed flakes, sea salt, mustard and vegan mayo and/or salad cream to desired consistency.
  3. Stir thoroughly to blend and serve as sandwich filling or on jacket potatoes.


If you aren’t such a fan of an overly ‘ocean’ vibe just omit the seaweed, or any other flavours listed that you’re not keen on.

Don’t drain your chickpea water* down the sink! Keep it to use for a multitude of recipes such as meringue, mousse or mayonnaise. Try my recipe for vegan mayonnaise, perfect for chickpea tuna salad!

*Chickpea water also known as the fabulous, multi tasking Aqua faba!


Tag me on instagram @love_light_vegan if you make it and let me know what you think!

Vegan haggis

Served here with mashed potato, roasted veg and vegan yorskshire puddings!

With Burns Night just around the corner (25th January) what better time to share my recipe for this Scottish classic! I am a proud Scot but not going to go into detail as to what the traditional meaty version of this dish includes, suffice to say that when it was on offer at school dinners the stench alone was enough to put me off and I’m pleased to say this born and bred Scot has never tasted haggis of the traditional meat variety. The veggie version on the other hand, well it’s one of my favourite dishes. So warming, comforting and satisfying. It warms you from the inside out so it’s perfect from autumn right through Christmas and new years into January for Burns Night, until the frost begins to clear and spring decides it’s sprung …And even right through the warmer months as it’s just that good!

It’s so savoury and enticing with its depth of flavour and spices… it keeps you full for hours, and it’s versatile – serve up on its own with gravy and all the trimmings, or whack it in a pie or roll it in puff pastry… more ideas below, but whatever you choose to do with it, you can’t go wrong.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and please let me know if you make it and what you think!

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!


Serves 6

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots; 1 grated & 1 finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
  • [Or 1 large for each of the above]
  • 10g Porcini mushrooms, soaked
  • 30g dry soy mince (I used Granose)
  • 350ml vegetable stock
  • 5 tablespoons dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 can kidney beans, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground peanuts, hazelnuts & cashews
  • 1 tablespoon mixed seeds, crushed
  • 150g pinhead oats
  • 100g traditional rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon marmite/vegemite
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice


Prep:30min › Cook:1hr › Ready in:1hr30min

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C / Gas mark 5.
  2. Lightly grease a 23x13cm loaf tin. (Or other ovenproof dish)
  3. Soak the mushrooms in enough liquid to cover, and the same with the soya mince.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion for a few minutes. Mix in the carrot and garlic and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the mushrooms, mince, stock, lentils, kidney beans, nuts, seeds, soy sauce and lemon juice. Season with thyme, rosemary, cayenne pepper and mixed spice. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in oats, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf tin.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes until firm.


  • For frozen soy mince use 40g and stir in with stock.
  • For a spicier kick, use 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  • Before baking in oven, the haggis can be:
  • Shaped into balls and baked or deep fried in batter.
  • Shaped into patties, covered in breadcrumbs and fried.
  • As a filling for stuffed peppers or portobello mushrooms.
  • After baking in oven, the haggis can be:
  • Served immediately or cooled and kept in the fridge for later.
  • Frozen for later use within 1 month.
  • Rolled into ready made puff pastry (thanks Just Roll!) like this yummy pic below

If you make this recipe please tag me in your creations on instagram! @lovelightleaves

Vegan Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire puddings served here with my vegan haggis recipe

Yes, you read that right; vegan Yorkshire puddings. You really can veganise anything to make a cruelty free version that’s just as tasty. And no egg replacers or aqua faba in sight, bonus! These are as yummy as I remember Yorkshire puddings to be, deliciously crispy on the outside and soft & fluffy on the inside, perfect. They even raised around the edges and sunk in the middle!


Makes 12

  • Vegetable oil (12 tsp)
  • 1/2 pint soy milk
  • 115 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt


  1. Heat a 12 cup muffin pan with 1 tsp oil in each cup and put in oven at gas 8/230c.
  2. Mix 115g plain flour, 1 teaspoon cornflour, 1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
  3. Gradually whisk in 1/2 pint soy milk until smooth and frothy.
  4. Take the muffin tray out of the oven and half fill each cup immediately so that the oil is still hot.
  5. Put back in the oven for 20 minutes and don’t open the door until then!


  • Adapted from wonderful recipes on instagram (thanks @carly_182 and @sillygingervegan!)
  • Their recipes both used gram flour instead of cornflour (use 1 heaped teaspoon) and didnt call for the bicarb of soda.
  • Top Tip – use the back of a teaspoon to gently press the centre down if they are not totally aesthetically pleasing upon remvoing from the oven, works a treat!

Seitan roast

A perfect roast for Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving or any other special occassion meal where you want to enjoy a delicious roast dinner with all the trimmings… and all your loved ones! This roast will impress even the most devout of carnists. Serve with roast potatoes (marmite optional!) maple glazed parsnips, garlicy green beans, sautéed brussel sprouts with ‘bacon’, veggie haggis ‘stuffing’ balls and my creamy parsley sauce (recipes coming soon)… ah heaven on a plate… and Christmas on a plate!

Setan roast pictured served with herby roast potatoes, sautéed brussel sprouts with bacon & sausage bits, steamed spring greens and a red wine gravy. 

It’s flavoursome, smoky and ‘meaty’ and ideal served up with all the sides that are traditionally served with traditional roasts. For vegetarians and vegans it makes a great and welcome alternative to a nut roast. I mean I love a nut roast as much as the next vegan but change can be a good thing!

It’s also extremely versatile. You can roll this dough out with a rolling pin and fill with your favourite ingredients (last Christmas I made a Seitan Wellington, filled with veggie haggis, chestnut purée and porcini mushrooms then rolled in puff pastry – ah delicious!) or leave out the pastry casing but still serve it up as a ‘stuffed’ roast; basically it’s delicious either way and you can’t really go wrong with it! (More ideas and recipe suggestions below)

So read on for what you’ll need and go experiment and enjoy!


2 cups vital wheat gluten 250 g
1/2 cup chickpea / gram flour 50 g
1/2 cup nutritional yeast 30 g
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dried basil or other Italian herbs
1 tbsp onion powder & 1 tsp garlic powder
1 tablespoon ketchup or bbq sauce
2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce 125 mL (reduce this amount if prefer a less salty flavour)
1 1/2 cups hot water 375 mL
1 tbsp liquid smoke

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