Bel Brands’ original Babybel cheeses are among the most popular cheese brands, and the company says its new vegan variety replicates the familiar mozzarella taste and texture of red-wrapped favorites. However, Bel Brands’ product listing for plant-based cheese does not offer details on the main ingredient beyond “modified food starch.” It also includes coconut oil, salt and calcium.
So, what ingredients are found in other dairy-free cheeses? Rather than animal milk proteins, plant proteins like soy and nuts take the bulk in most vegan cheeses. While traditional dairy proteins coagulate easily, plant proteins naturally don’t bind as strongly (via EatingWell). To solve this problem, vegan cheese makers usually add vegetable oils, thickeners and starches to mimic the texture of traditional cheese. However, one sticking point has been why vegan cheese doesn’t melt — it doesn’t contain casein, a milk protein that helps traditional cheeses melt in this satisfying way.
Although it’s new, US customers have already shared photos of the herbal Babybel on social media, with mixed opinions. “Vegan Baby Bel spotted at Whole Foods!” a Twitter the user exclaimed with a heart emoji. “Worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth”, another person tweeted. Looks like we’ll have to unbox a green ride and decide for ourselves!