From tenderloin steaks to sausages, fish and even eggs, an abundance of vegan alternatives to animal products have hit the market in recent years.
Scientists and chefs alike are crafting compelling animal-free imitations of meat and dairy products to help the public make more eco-friendly and ethical choices.
A newcomer to the market is London-based company Julienne Bruno, who just released three vegan products each. Inspired by the classic soft cheese.
They’re made from ingredients like soy milk, coconut oil, vegetable fiber, and “plant-based fermentation cultures” and can be used in salads, pasta dishes, and more.
MailOnline compared each “cheese” to its closest animal-based equivalent to see if it was a soft cheese…or just not very good.
The London company Julienne Bruno has released three vegan cheeses – Burrella, Superstraccia and Crematta. Each is inspired by classic soft cheeses (burrata, stracciatella and cream cheese, respectively)—but are they any good?
Julien Bruno’s three cheeses – called Burella, Superstracia and Cremata – are inspired by burrata, stratchatella and cream cheese respectively, and cost between £3.50 and £4.50.
Julien Bruno Vegan Cheese
It’s like burrata
– £4.50 (115 grams)
It looks like a stratatella
– £4.00 (175g)
It’s like cream cheese
– 3.50 pounds sterling (175 g)
But the brand insists it never set out to make a vegan imitation of real cheese because it values the “history, culture and provenance” behind it.
“We’re taking botanicals to new levels through exploration, creativity and delicious discovery,” says Julienne Bruno on her website.
“By combining innovative technologies with simple, natural products, we are showing that plant-based products are the most exciting area of gastronomy.”
first up is bOrella, which the company describes as “a cheese with a delicate bite and a flaky interior, is best served cold.”
It’s an approximation of burrata – an Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream, a classic appetizer in trendy London restaurants, and often served with cold cuts.
Instead of curds and whey, the primary ingredient in Borella is soy milk, which is produced by soaking and grinding soybeans.
Typically, burrata has an outer shell made of hard cheese, while the inside contains chewy curds known as stracciatella or ‘chunks’.
MailOnline compared a plant-based burrella (right) to a real, milk-based burrata (left)
The vegan Borella ball (right) poured out a lovely curd when I cracked it open – just like the real thing (left)
So when the burrata is sliced open, the slivers of stracciatella flow out—perfect for spooning onto crusty bread or salads.
positioning plant-basedBurrella’ next to the burrata £3.60 I bought at the supermarket, I was impressed with how similar it was.
Real milk-based burrata maybe looks firmer and softer, but they both spill out lovely stringy curds when I crack open them, which I put on a cracker.
How exactly the company managed to recreate the outer shell of burrata in the absence of curds and whey isn’t something it goes into on its website, though MailOnline asked for more information.
Vegan flavourBurrella’ is very impressive – lots of creaminess with a nice milky flavour.
In comparison, cow’s milk burrata from the supermarket is soft and milky but not overly tasty.
My taste test partner also prefers it BOrella, describing it as very smooth and creamy despite not having the firmest texture.
So far, so good – I will definitely choose BOrella again, maybe for an appetizer or dollop on an Italian-style tomato salad or a fresh-from-the-oven pizza.
Next, it’s meant to be a cream cheese-like cremata that’s perfect for pasta sauces, cheesecakes, candy frosting, and more, according to the company.
Creamata (right) and quark (left) are spread on a biscuit. The company insists that Cremata is “not a vegan cream cheese.” She says, “Our vegan cheesecake is a lightly whipped creamy spread. It is a cake topping and so much more.”
She compared cremata to a £2 tub of quark, a similar soft, spreadable cheese made by heating curd until it curdles before straining it.
Unfortunately, I like cremata less than BOrella – It has a good firm texture that successfully imitates cream cheese but tastes very salty, like eating sea water.
Per 100g, Crematta contains 0.96g of salt – slightly more than the 0.75g in the same serving of Philadelphia cheese.
However, my taste-test partner preferred cremata to quark – mistakenly identifying them as each other.
Finally, ‘Superstraccia’ is named as a reference to stracciatella – the stretched, rope-like strands found within burrata.
Again, Superstraccia is nice and tasty, but instead of curdled curds, it has soft cubes, much more akin to cottage cheese.
Superstraccia is “not a vegan stracciatella or cottage cheese” but rather a “vegan cheese with rich, creamy curds, equally good when served cold and hot,” says Juliane Bruneau.
Whatever it is, I can eat a whole bathtub on a baked potato and be very happy.
Overall, Julienne Bruno’s new products — her first since founding the company in 2020 — are about as delicious as vegan dairy products have ever been, though that’s not saying much.
Superstraccia ‘isn’t a vegan stracciatella or cottage cheese…it’s a vegan cheese with rich, creamy curds, equally good when served cold and hot,’ says Juliane Bruno.
So far, the words “vegan cheese” have made me think of the dreaded yellow slices that taste like vomit – but this may finally be over.
While I am not a vegetarian or vegan, I believe that plant-based products should mimic animal versions as closely as possible to transition the general public from a plant-eating diet to a plant-based diet.
Right now, do devoted cheese lovers really want to eat Burrella, Superstraccia, or Crematta when the real versions are still available on supermarket shelves?
Probably not, especially given that the nutritional value of vegan cheese has come into question, but it will certainly be a treat for former dairy consumers.
Experts say vegan cheese has ‘little nutritional value’ and that eating too much may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
For many people, one of the hardest things about going vegan is giving up cheese.
Food manufacturers have tried hard to recreate the creamy taste and moist texture – without the dairy.
But in addition to not tasting like the real thing, vegan cheese is also worse for your health, according to one expert.
But the nutritionist warned that plant-based dairy products increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes
The vegan alternatives are claimed to have “low nutritional value” and contain far more harmful fats than the original.
Those who eat vegan cheese may also miss out on the nutritional benefits of dairy cheese, which naturally contains protein, calcium, iodine, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.