5 Vegan Alternatives for Cream Cheese Lovers

Growing up, bagels were practically their own food group, and a big chewy sesame bagel, warm from the toaster and practically frosted with luxurious cream cheese was an easy, tasty breakfast before I headed off to school.

Harder than giving up cheese, harder than giving up ice cream, was giving up cream cheese for me – it felt like having to give up one of the most iconic foods of my childhood.

But I didn’t have to despair for long!

I soon realized that there were plenty of options for me for dairy-free cream cheese alternatives, and the longer I stayed vegan, the more brands and flavors of vegan cream cheese seemed to appear in the refrigerated case at my grocery store.

Now, it’s easier than ever to find the perfect spread for your bagel or cracker without having to support the horrors of the dairy industry.

Like any ingredient, certain brands have textures and flavors that work better in some recipes than others, as well as being suited to different tastes. Like your cream cheese with a lot of tang? A super-creamy flavor? Superior spreadability? There are enough options where there’s something for everyone.

If Not Milk, What is Vegan Cream Cheese Made Of?

So how exactly does the milk in cream cheese get replaced with a vegan alternative?

What are you eating when you dip your knife into a tub of dairy-free cream cheese?

Most companies use one of two main substitutes for cow’s milk in their cream cheese – soy or coconut. Both lend their qualities to the cream cheese, and can be beneficial for people who have aversions to certain allergens.

The “tang” of the cream cheese can come from a few different sources – some brands use vegan cultures (like the active ones in yogurt) to recreate that classic taste, while others use tart, vinegary flavors like lemon juice.

I happen to like a very tart, very tangy cream cheese, but there are products whose flavors are more mild and subdued.

If you’re watching your intake of trans fats, you’ll want to read the labels on your vegan cream cheese carefully. Trans fats, which come from hydrogenated oils, are commonly added to foods to help them spread more easily, but they have been linked to increased levels of bad cholesterol and coronary heart diseasev.

However, because vegan cream cheese, and other processed foods like it, should be a treat rather than the base of your diet, it isn’t the worst decision you could make – after all, you gotta live a little!

Additionally, vegan cream cheese comes with less fat and zero cholesterol than its dairy-based counterpart. As long as you’re using cream cheese responsibly, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

There is a multitude of great cream cheeses out there to try, but we’ve rounded up a convenient list of the five best vegan cream cheese brands to try next time you’re craving a bagel with schmear.

List of Vegan Cream Cheese Brands


Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

Nutritional Value

Calories

60

Fat

5g

Protein

1g

Carbs

2g

Fiber

0g

This is the grandfather of all vegan cream cheese, the very first product to answer the call of bagel-loving, cheesecake-starved vegans.

If you order vegan cream cheese on your bagel at the coffee shop, this is more than likely what you get.

What We Love: The delicate flavor and smooth, creamy mouthfeel of traditional dairy cream cheese. Flavorwise, it’s a serious home run.

The Downside: The original Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese contains hydrogenated oils (read: trans fats), which have been shown to increase bad cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease.

If you’re concerned about trans fats in your spreads, try Tofutti’s Better than Cream Cheese Non-Hydrogenated – you’ll sacrifice some of the creamy texture, but your body will thank you!

Available for Purchase on Amazon


Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese

Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese

Nutritional Value

Calories

100

Fat

9g

Protein

2g

Carbs

3g

Fiber

2g

Follow Your Heart is best known for its masterful line of vegan mayonnaise, but its vegan cream cheese also gets great reviews by vegans and non-vegans alike.

What We Love: FYH’s cream cheese is made without the addition of trans-fats, so those who don’t wish to consume hydrogenated oils can spread this on a bagel with no fear.

The Downside: Some people note that the texture of Follow Your Heart Cream Cheese tends to be a little on the grainy side.

The taste is good, with that quintessential cream cheese “tang”, but you may not quite be able to fool houseguests who are used to traditional dairy cream cheese.

Available for Purchase at a Location Near You


Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese

trader-joes-cream-cheese

Nutritional Value

Calories

90

Fat

9g

Protein

1g

Carbs

1g

Fiber

0g

Trader Joe’s is truly the unsung hero of the vegan world, and their vegan cream cheese is no exception. Made from a combination of coconut and soy products, people describe TJ’s vegan cream cheese as “luxurious”, so it’s worth a spot in your shopping basket on your next grocery run.

What We Love: Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese is made with active vegan cultures, which give it that classic tang of traditional cream cheese. Another plus is that this is also a brand made without harmful trans-fats, so you can feel good about making your vegan cheesecake with this cream cheese from Trader Joe’s. People also note that this cream cheese lends itself well to recipes like cheesecake and cream cheese frosting.

The Downside: Though the actual product has no downsides, your access to this particular brand depends entirely on whether or not you have a store near you. Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell its brand in other, larger chain grocery stores, so it may be a little difficult to get your hands on this cream cheese if you find yourself without a TJ’s. If you’re visiting an area near one, bring a cooler and stock up!

Available for Purchase at a Location Near You


Daiya Cream Cheese Style Spread

Daiya Cream Cheese Style Spread

Nutritional Value

Calories

90

Fat

8g

Protein

1g

Carbs

5g

Fiber

0g

As Follow Your Heart is to vegan mayonnaise, Daiya is to vegan cheese. Their cream cheese is not their most loved product, but the taste seems to depend on the person. It is available in three flavors: plain, chive & onion, and strawberry.

What We Love: Soy-free vegans, rejoice! Daiya cream cheese is made without the use of any soy or gluten, so unless you have a coconut allergy, this cream cheese is a fantastic choice for those with multiple food allergies who need to avoid common allergens like tree nuts, peanuts, and gluten.

The Downside: Reviewers report that the Daiya cream cheese is sweeter and less tangy than traditional cream cheese, and some people found the sweetness very off-putting. If you’re unsure, try their strawberry cream cheese flavor – the sweetness here may be more tolerable in a fruit-flavored cream cheese rather than a savory one.

Available for Purchase on Amazon


Go Veggie! Cream Cheese

Go Veggie! Cream Cheese

Nutritional Value

Calories

80

Fat

8g

Protein

1g

Carbs

1g

Fiber

0g

Go Veggie! cream cheese comes in three tasty flavors – plain, strawberry, and chive & garlic. It’s a winner for the creamy texture and flavor profile that reminds a lot of vegans of traditional dairy cream cheese.

It is available in larger refrigerated tubs, or you can purchase singles in plain and chive & garlic flavors that are convenient and perfect to keep in your lunch box.

What We Love: The Go Veggie! cream cheese has a much milder, less tangy flavor to it – it’s quite subdued and not as harsh as other cream cheese alternatives. If you like the creamy texture of spreadable cream cheese for bagels and crackers, but aren’t into the yogurt-type taste that comes from the cultures, the Go Veggie! vegan line of cream cheeses may be the right choice for you.

The Downside: Due to their subdued, calm flavor, the Go Veggie! brand doesn’t pack as much of a cream cheese punch, so if you’re looking to make a recipe where cream cheese is the star of the show – like a cream cheese frosting or cheesecake – you may want to go with a tangier, more assertive brand.

Available for Purchase at a Location Near You


Ingredients to Watch For

In your grocery store travels, you will more than likely come across a dairy-free cream cheese that isn’t included on this list.

You’ll be able to tell if it’s completely vegan with a quick glance at the ingredient list near the nutrition label.

The fastest way to tell will be to look at the allergen list – if it says “Contains Milk,” the product contains some milk product or milk derivative.

Similarly, lactose and whey are byproducts of milk, and should be avoided. You can also look for the green V or simple “Vegan” label on the packaging to see if it is a completely vegan product.

Vegan Cream Cheese: The Bottom Line

Life is simply too short to live without tangy, creamy cheese to eat with your bagel and crackers. But just because you’re jonesing for this favorite condiment doesn’t mean you have to buy into the dairy industry – you can have your cream cheese, and eat it too!

While the presence of trans fats in vegan cream cheese and other processed foods can be concerning, it’s no reason to avoid these products completely – just treat them as occasional treats to keep your diet healthy.

I tend to reach for these products only when I just can’t stop thinking about a familiar bagel with cream cheese, or at special occasions like holidays where I want to wow my guests with a dessert, but don’t want to use anything that would come off as too “weird.”

With most brands offering sweet and savory flavors of cream cheese, there’s no reason why you can’t swap out your dairy-filled favorites for cruelty-free alternatives. Scour your refrigerated section in your local supermarket and see which product best fits your needs and tastes.

Sharing's Caring
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: