French culinary traditions center largely around meat, fish and cheese. Each region of France has its own specialty dairy cheeses that are specific to the area where they are produced. But a revolution began a few years ago, thanks to some innovative start-ups that set out to produce high-quality vegan cheese (free from animal products). These excellent cheeses can now be found across France at vegan and organic stores. Read on for an overview of the best French vegan cheese brands!
What is vegan cheese?
Dairy cheese is the result of combining raw materials with production methods based on cheese-making expertise such as managing the aging process. Some of the vegan cheese brands described here worked with master cheesemakers to learn this traditional expertise so they could develop their own (vegan) recipes.
Although the production methods for dairy and vegan cheeses are similar, the raw materials are not. In vegan cheese, the animal milk is replaced with a plant-based milk that is very different from dairy milk in both its composition and chemical reactions.
The vegan cheese brands below aim to combine the French culinary arts with an environment-conscious and ethical approach that respects all living beings and the planet.
The 4 best French vegan cheese brands
Les Nouveaux Affineurs
The result of collaboration with master cheesemakers and scientists (in particular to learn to manage the aging process), their cheeses are made from organic cashews or soy, without any additives, preservatives or artificial flavors. They focus on the flavor and quality of their products to offer consumers an inspiring introduction to plant-based eating.
We naturally wholeheartedly support this kind of awareness-raising approach! Their cheeses are made in the Paris region, and their goal is to have an impact on the development of the French culinary arts with the innovation and fully vegan nature of their products.
Their offering is made up of three products:
L’affiné d’Albert has a strong character with a bloomy rind and spicy finish! (on the picture)
L’affiné de Margot is enveloped in a soft white exterior and offers a mild flavor that your tastebuds will appreciate.
L’affiné de Germain is golden and creamy with yeasty notes.
The first artisan vegan cheese brand launched in France, Jay&Joy revolutionized French alternatives to traditional dairy cheeses. Like Les Nouveaux Affineurs, this vegan cheese brand collaborated with master cheesemakers to develop their own recipes, but also drew inspiration from chefs. They make all their cheeses in their Paris workshop using almond milk and cashews as well as dried herbs and seasonings.
All their cheeses are 100% organic and free from gluten, lactose, additives, preservatives, artificial flavors and GMOs. And they use recyclable packaging, which itself is usually made from recycled materials, for their entire range!
It would be impossible to describe all of their vegan cheeses, since there are so many, but we’ll tell you about our favorites:
The Jean Cendré surprised us with its activated charcoal that lends it a unique ashy character.
The Joy Prairie takes you straight to the south of France with its notes of thyme, oregano and basil.
The Joséphine is the only cheese in their range that is fermented and aged. Its white rind and strong flavor make it very similar to a traditional hard cheese made from dairy milk!
The Jeanne is a delectable, well-balanced blue-style cheese that cheese aficionados and novices alike will adore.
Launched in 2017, this young artisan vegan cheese brand was founded by a cheese enthusiast named Anne. Their cheeses are made in the Moselle region in eastern France using 100% organic nuts, ferments and seasonings and are all gluten-free. They use as many ingredients from their immediate region as possible, and when other supplies are needed, they try to source them from within France or through fair-trade production networks. Their packaging is also biodegradable and recyclable!
They offer cheeses of different types, but our favorite is the Petit Lorrain. Its texture, flavor and beautiful white rind remind us of the traditional dairy camemberts we used to eat, but it’s gentler on the environment and causes no animal suffering!
This artisan vegan cheese brand was founded in Paris in 2016 with the goal of making high-end plant-based alternatives to dairy cheese that would inspire new habits in France. And just two years later, these ambitions have already seen big success!
Their cheeses are made from cashews and French soy, herbs and other unique ingredients (black garlic to name just one). They are all 100% organic.
Their range is composed of five vegan cheeses, but two of them are our special favorites. The Camemvert Nature is fermented and aged several weeks. Its bloomy white rind always brings back memories of traditional dairy camembert. But its flavor and texture are different from those of Petit Veganne’s cheese, which goes to show that you can get very different results even when similar ingredients are used!
The Carrée Façon Feta also won us over with both the quality of its texture and its versatility: it can be enjoyed as is, paired with a nice wine, or crumbled over a salad just like a dairy feta!
Where to buy these vegan cheeses?
The cheeses made by these brands are available exclusively at vegan stores and organic stores. We’ve already written a little guide to vegan and organic food shops in Paris – get to know it!
If you’re looking for a specific product, we recommend calling shops ahead of time to check whether it’s in stock, or visiting their online shop if they have one.
And if you’d like to taste the excellent cheeses made by Jay&Joy, you can join our Delicious East or Gourmet Sentier (route 1) walkabout!