Cheese and not-cheese

illustration by MARK STIVERS

So, vegans, nothing against you guys. I actually dig vegan food and am finding vegan baked goods getting better and better as time goes on (partially due to Sugar Plum Vegan’s influence, I feel).

However, there is one thing you need to stop doing: Stop calling things that aren’t cheese “cheese.” Ground cashews or whipped coconut oil are not cheese. They are cheeselike substances. They are not “cheese.” Historically, since it was first accidentally created, cheese has been a product of spoiled and cultured milk. Milk is what defines cheese. Salt, enzymes and cultures, too, but mostly milk.

I have had this argument far too many times where people insist that I’m being closed-minded. I do not feel that’s the case. I’m also not saying that some of these not-cheese products aren’t healthy and/or tasty. It’s just that any dictionary, chef, food compendium, toddler or history book of human civilization as we know it will tell you that cheese is made from milk.

I’m done now. Sorry, but as a food writer, this topic bugs the hell out of me.