What are the products made from?

Our table cheeses and Persian Feta are made from a base of cashews and coconut oil. We go through the same culturing, setting, cutting, coating, ageing and air-drying process by hand that traditional dairy cheesemakers do; however, instead of beginning this process using animal milk we make our own base of blended cashews and coconut oil.

Our Mozzarella and Cultured Butter are made from a base of hemp and coconut oil, so these products do not contain any cashews or other nuts – making them more ‘allergen’ friendly (our Cultured Butter has a minute amount of soy lecithin though).

Our Dutch Chocolate Creme is made from a base of Lupin, coconut oil, raw organic cacao, and organic coconut sugar (we recently removed cashews from this product making it, too, nut-free, finally!). Lupin is a newly emerging high protein ’superfood’ ingredient – a high fibre, low carb ‘legume’. Lupin is considered an allergen, so this is something to be mindful of. However, it is far less common to be allergic to Lupin than Cashews.

All our products are made from clean and simple ingredients. We pride ourselves on only using real FOODS – nothing processed, no fillers, nothing you can’t pronounce

Why are our products different from others on the market?

Our products are made from really clean and simple ingredients and get their flavour from a traditional and natural culturing process – something that many other vegan cheese products can’t entirely claim. Many use vinegars and other ingredients to add flavour.

Our products are smoother than most of the other vegan cheese ‘competitors’ we have tried. They are also in a ‘platter ready’ style, ready to ‘enjoy and impress’. Many other popular vegan ‘cheeses’ on the market are in jars, more like a dip style.

To top this off, in 2022 we were voted Australia’s Best Vegan Cheese in the Nourish Magazine Awards, with over 200,000 Australian readers of the magazine casting their votes – there has not been another annual vote since, so we still hold this ’title’ currently.

If they are so good, why are they cheaper than all the other ‘premium’ brands on the market?

When we first began, we were also priced at the ‘premium’ end of the vegan cheese market. However, over the last few years, we have worked hard to adjust our production and processes in a way that enables us to pass savings onto our customers and make our products more accessible to more people.

Our biggest mission at The Vegan Dairy is to get healthy vegan cheeses into as many mouths as possible – which can’t be done if they are too expensive for most people to consider trying them! We have also decided to ‘make less money’ on our products, with a view to getting them to more people. ‘Money’ is not mine or Bronson’s primary goal with our products – getting them into as many mouths as possible is!

Are your products mainly only for vegans?

Hell no! Whenever we have created a new product, we have taste-tested it with groups of people who also eat meat and dairy, not just vegans. Our products are delicious FIRST, and then also happen to be vegan. In a world where food awareness is shifting more to ‘kind’ options, and more and more people are becoming aware of the environmental impact of their food, everything we make is with a hope to show people that a healthy plant-based way of life is actually really delicious and satisfying, whilst also bringing huge benefits to the planet and the animals. Even if some people only shift a small part of their usual eating habits towards plant-based options, that is still some reduction of dairy/meat consumption – and a win for the planet!

Where do you source your ingredients? Are your ingredients all Australian?

Our main ingredients, cashews and coconut oil, are not produced in Australia in anywhere near large enough volumes for what we require. So, we source cashews from either Vietnam or Indonesia depending on the season, and coconut oil from the Solomon Islands. We source Australian ingredients whenever we can, however the reality is that many of our core ingredients are not available here. We do, however, pride ourselves on sourcing ingredients from ethical, responsible, and sustainable businesses working to give back to their local communities. Our coconut oil, for example, comes from Kokonut Pacific who do a huge amount of work for the local population – creating jobs, supporting the community, ensuring sustainable harvesting and production processes that do not impact the natural eco system, etc. All of our suppliers are questioned when we begin working with them as to their sustainability and ethical values and principles, and we do not work with suppliers who are not responsible in these areas. As a vegan business, we feel our products cannot be considered ‘vegan’ if the ingredients that go into them do not also adhere to the values of ‘veganism’ – towards animals, humans, and the environment.

Do your products have any certifications?

We are HACCP certified, which is the international standard for food hygiene, and gives our customers strong confidence in the quality and consistency of our products. We are also Kosher certified, so those following a Kosher diet can now have “cheese” where they previously could not mix this with other food groups. We have looked into organic certification in the past, but it is a very arduous and expensive process to maintain and something that, as such a small business, we have decided is not worth the cost or man-hours at this stage.

As the cheeses are cultured, does this mean that they have probiotics / prebiotics?

Yes! We add cultures to our ‘base’ mixture at the beginning of our culturing process, which then naturally develops the flavour profile our products over a period of time (different timing for each of our products). This also means that our products are loaded with good bacteria that help support a healthy gut microbiome.

Are you Vegan Society certified?

Not at the moment, no. It is something we have looked into in the past, but it has been difficult for us to dedicate the time to this as we are such a small team! We hope to add a vegan certification to our range in the coming year or two as soon as we can get on top of it!

How long can you freeze the product for?

Technically indefinitely, as it never goes ‘bad’ from our years of testing – no matter how long it has been frozen. However eventually, over time, the product does start to change flavour and texture slightly. From our in-house testing and experience, we would recommend limiting freezing time for the cashew-based cheeses and butters to 6 months maximum, but ideally not more than 3-4 months, to maintain optimal flavour and texture. For the Dutch Chocolate Creme, at this stage, we would not recommend freezing for more than a month, as we are still finalizing our ‘testing’ processes.

When defrosting, always defrost in the fridge overnight (i.e. do NOT speed up the defrosting process by leaving out of the fridge, putting in hot water, etc.). Note that our Hemp Mozzarella CANNOT be frozen.

All our other products can, though.

What would be the shelf life from defrost?

If the products have been frozen, their shelf life can be extended by however long they have been in the freezer – i.e. if you freeze a Persian Feta for 10 weeks, and then defrost it according to the instructions above, you can then extend the best before date marked on the jar by 10 weeks.

What vegetable oil do you currently use?

We currently use a high quality Rice Bran oil in our products. Rice Bran Oil is high in Vitamin E, an important antioxidant vitamin. It is also high in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats from a plant based source work to lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides, therefore improving heart health, whilst raising good cholesterol and also improving the control of sugar levels in the blood. Polyunsaturated fats from a plant based source also work to lower bad cholesterol, therefore also improving heart health, whilst also providing nutrients to help develop and maintain the body’s cells. Our Rice Bran Oil does tend to ‘congeal’ a little more on a fridge shelf compared with brands who use sunflower or canola oils (this is when the fat molecules in an oil go more gluggy or solid at fridge temperatures). However this is an indication that an oil is of higher quality – for example extra virgin olive oil goes almost solid in the fridge – and so despite the more cloudy appearance of our Persian Feta marinating oil on fridge shelves we still prefer to use this better-health-promoting oil in our products.

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