During my slow transition to veganism over the past year and a half or so, I made one pledge to myself: find a way to approximate mac and cheese. If it can’t be done, abandon the diet. I’m serious. Many vegetarians say things like “I could never give up cheese,” which I sort of understand. But with me, it was more of a mac-n-cheese-specific issue. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and I am firmly convinced that many people continue to eat dairy because they think a vegan mac and cheese can’t be done without it tasting like feet.
Welll, it can. I have been experimenting in the kitchen with different ways to pull this off for over a year. Many, many of the results were inedible and in no way resembled what is known as mac and cheese. But once I got my vegan cheese base right, I finally was able to perfect this recipe. This is delicious (though please remember that–though it is lower in saturated fat, has no cholesterol at all, and is more animal friendly than the original–it is still made with white pasta and is fairly high calorie)!
*Oh, and–as a bonus–this does not contain any of that nasty, science-experiment-in-a-bag otherwise known as Daiya Cheese. That stuff is disgusting, and don’t let any vegan ever try to tell you differently.
I am going to break ranks with a lot of vegans and admit something to omnivores/dairy fanatics: fake cheese does not taste like cheese. Nothing is going to quite duplicate the meltinesss, texture, or flavor of cheese. I can’t stand it when vegetarians insist something “tastes just like X” or that they serve it and “no one knows the difference!” Such talk is usually a tangled web of lies. So I’m not going to spout that bullshit here. I’m an honest guy.
The issue for me is not duplicating cheese precisely (maybe it was in the beginning, but my goals have changed). The goal is to duplicate typical cheese-containing dishes as a whole, in ways that are still delicious–even if it doesn’t taste exactly like the original product. Also, I want to do it from scratch using whole ingredients (and not that nasty science experiment Daiya cheese). My biggest beef with many vegans is the reliance on processed, pre-made, fake meat and cheese products sold at the grocery store. Reliance on those items confirms the stereotype that vegan diets are too expensive (they’re not, given the main staple of our diet–dried beans–is the cheapest thing at the grocery store) and missing essentials like protein, calcium, iron, and B vitamins (they don’t, as long as a variety of whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and vegetables is consumed). Now, about the “cheese” sauce…
I can already hear the groans from the dairy lovers. This can’t possibly taste like anything except feet, right? Doesn’t it reek of nuts? Didn’t you just puree some nasty tofu? Why are you ruining Alfredo sauce this way? To answer your questions:
- Feet gross me out, so I’ve never gotten close enough to know what they taste like.
- No, it doesn’t reek of nuts. It is made with cashew cream, but that’s watered down with stock to cut the sweet nutty taste.
- There is no tofu in this.
- Not everyone can eat dairy, whether due to personal ethics or potential for diarrhea. So dont judge.
This is actually quite good, or else I wouldn’t be sharing it. It works as an Alfredo substitute, but can also be baked with pasta for a vegan mac and cheese substitute. No, it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, but that doesn’t mean it tastes bad. And I’ve been trying for months to find a way to approximate a creamy sauce without it tasting disgusting (I’m looking at you, science experiment that is Daiya Cheese). So this was success. Proceed if you want to give it a try.