Heaven calling: what tastes like cheese, but is 100% vegan?

Cheese — is there anything better? Well, to a lot of people the answer is unfortunately yes: for the lactose intolerant, the dairy free, vegans and some vegetarians in particular. To all of you who miss cheese, make sure you’re sitting down before you read this.

There is a food which not only tastes like cheese but is packed full of nutrition. I’m talking about nutritional yeast.

Now it might not sound appealing, but nutritional yeast is packed with vitamins, nutrients and tastes deliciously cheesy. It’s a deactivated yeast made from sugarcane and beet molasses. You may have unknowingly been eating or drinking it already — it’s the same yeast used in beer and bread, the only difference is that it’s been pasteurised to deactivate it: to make the yeast stop growing.

Even avid dairy lovers should give nutritional yeast a go: just 2 tablespoons (30g) will give you your daily dose of B vitamins. This includes B12, which is a necessary addition for vegans and vegetarians, as it’s usually only found in animal products.

These 2 tablespoons will also give you 4g of fibre (the daily recommendation is 25-30g of dietary fibre per day) as well as 8g of protein and just 2g of fat, none of it saturated.

The best part is that it’s ridiculously easy to work nutritional yeast into your diet. Try having it on top of pasta or lasagne, sprinkling it on salads, nachos, mashed potatoes or fried tofu and even atop of popcorn for a savoury sweet treat.

If you hit the shops looking for nutritional yeast, in Australia it’s often been sold as “savoury yeast flakes”, so keep your eyes peeled for that instead.

Look, your tastebuds don’t even need to know that it’s not “real cheese”. Don’t think about the name, go and give nutritional yeast a shot, you might find a new favourite (and healthy) topping.

By Ashleigh Feltham.