Cheese is often the focal point of well-loved pizzas, and many restaurants have garnered great respect for how they serve it up. Chicago, Illinois is frequently hailed as the U.S. capital of premium deep-dish pizzas, with at least half a dozen big-name players. Included on that list are Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s East pizzerias.
At first consideration, the thought of vegan pizza is one hundreds of people scoff at. People may imagine a thin-crust pizza topped with some tomato sauce and one floret of broccolini. For years gone by, this could have been spot on. The present and future of vegan cheese, however, is telling a different story.
Vegan cheese is breaking new ground
Vegan pizza recipes that include a hearty collection of vegan cheese analogs are rapidly picking up steam. The reasons that vegan pizzas and vegan cheese are not seen more regularly in the public light are too many to mention here, but the amount of attention the vegan cheese industry has received as of late is staggering.
This makes a lot of sense. Vegans that have spoken with vegetarians know how common it is to hear that people do not like giving up cheese, and the great majority of omnivores routinely relish meals involving cheese. Sure enough, as Sarah Taylor mentions on The Vegan Woman, cheese can actually be slightly addictive.
Casein is the main protein of cheese, and as it is digested, it releases naturally occurring opiates called casomorphins. As it turns out, casomorphins are processed almost identically to that of morphines, which heroin is derived from.
Granted, you are not going to get high off of eating a bunch of cheese pizzas, nor will you get checked into a rehab clinic for looking forward to a Friday night pizza bash with your friends. Regardless, this factor underscores just how much we love our deep-dish and stuffed crust pizzas.
Vegan cheese on a vegan pizza: anything better?
In light of the passion for both cheese and pizza, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too. All kinds of people have been experimenting with vegan pizzas for years, and there is a plethora of recipes involving vegan cheese to sift through. Here are five tempting and mouthwatering vegan pizzas topped with vegan cheese.
Vegan deep-dish pepperoni pizza. There is probably not much more that needs to be said: this pizza is worth checking out. For the skeptics who are still unsure, this particular recipe was actually inspired by Uno’s Chicago Pizza, so this is the real thing as far as vegan pizza goes.
Here is a Tandoori tempeh and pepper jack vegan pizza. Tandoori refers to a traditional Indian cooking style that makes use of clay ovens for baking. For those unfamiliar with tempeh, this is a soybean derivative much like tofu, and when spiced and cooked properly, mimics the taste and texture of meat. This recipe also makes use of Daiya’s pepper jack cheese shreds, one of the most authentic vegan cheese substitutes around.
For those who are having greater difficulty substituting meat, Richa Hingle of Vegan Richa also provides a recipe for a Buffalo Chickpea vegan pizza, boasting a sumptuous combination of white garlic sauce and celery ranch sauce. While the chickpeas work perfectly well for this pizza, they can easily be swapped out for vegan chicken, such as that made by Beyond Meat. For vegan cheese, this pizza can be crowned with vegan mozzarella shreds.
Americanized pizza dishes are not the only tantalizing offers out there. If you prefer a fresh ethnic twist, this Thai-Spiced vegan pizza is for you. Combining teriyaki tofu, carrots, peanuts, cilantro and onions with vegan mozzarella cheese is sure to satisfy.
Perhaps you are the type of vegan (or omnivore) that genuinely prefers a veggie-stacked pizza, and are wondering where you can find a recipe that delivers on all such fronts. The Green and White Pizza by Dianne Wenz features spinach pesto, cauliflower and broccoli and can easily be made gluten free. This vegan pizza comes with a homemade vegan cheese recipe, leveraging cashews, nutritional yeast and sea salt.
One of the coolest aspects about vegan pizzas is that they are convenient when it comes to experimentation. Most, if not all of these pizzas have room for more veggies to be added if desired, and a different flavor of cheese can always be substituted. Try these out and see what you like. The best way to enjoy foods more deeply is to constantly be trying new ones.
Do you have a favorite vegan cheese brand? Tried a vegan pizza you can’t get enough of? Comment below and tell us about it.