February 9, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Soy Cheese

This weekend I had brunch at a vegetarian restaurant.

Since I am lactose intolerant, I asked the waitress if they had any vegan cheese.

She told me they had soy cheese, but it wasn't vegan.

It was very busy and I didn't want to keep her, but that didn't make sense to me.

In the end, I decided not to get it. I am not vegan, but I was afraid the cheese they had was some sort of soy and lactose mix.

Does that make sense to you?

How can soy cheese not be vegan?

-- Jaime (last name withheld)
(city withheld), MI

A good number of soy cheeses contain casein, a milk protein.

This is usually done to better emulate the dairy-based product's texture and taste.

Although perfectly acceptable and appropriate for someone with a lactose intolerance like yourself (all soy cheeses are lactose free), the same can not be said for vegans, who omit all animal byproducts -- including casein -- from their diets.

In the event that your request was related to veganism, she had your interests in mind. Good for her.

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