Why Does ‘Veggie Slices’ Soy Cheese Exist, If It Contains Casein And Milk?

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Since swearing off meat, eggs and dairy at the beginning of January, the thing I’ve had the most trouble with is reading labels. Things I’ve forgotten to even consider being a source of dairy turn out — surprise! — to contain milk. I’m living with two vegan roommates right now, so they’ve helpfully pointed out to me a few times when things I think are vegan aren’t — Nut Thins almond crackers, some whole wheat bread and (I learned today) some veggie cheese slices.

This last one is puzzling, right? What’s ‘veggie cheese’ if not a non-dairy cheese substitute? The kinds I bought, both from Galaxy Nutritional Foods, are called “Veggie Slices” (mozzarella flavor) and Go Veggie (cheddar flavor). The main ingredient in the mozzarella slices is “organic soy base” (filtered water, organic soy flour), followed by casein (milk protein) and, down the list, lactic acid (a milk acid). In the cheddar, the only ingredient more prevalent than casein was water; it’s followed by canola oil, sodium phosphate and then … cheese culture and enzymes, milk and cream!

So Veggie Slices are clearly not for vegans. Who are they meant to appeal to–people who want their processed cheese slices to taste even grosser than normal? Why does this product exist???? 

Actually, there’s a reasonable answer: Veggie slices are lactose free. Lactose, a milk sugar, is the main thing that makes people respond negatively to milk. The lactose intolerant could, theoretically, enjoy Veggie Slices.

But while lactose intolerance isn’t actually a milk allergy (it’s a digestive issue that causes discomfort but isn’t life threatening), casein can trigger serious and even fatal allergic reactions in milk drinkers. Anyone with a suspected casein allergy (or who isn’t sure whether casein or lactose is the issue) will want to avoid Veggie Slices, too.

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    • Peppercorn

      Yeah, this is probably aimed at people who are lactose intolerant… as a vegan myself, I have to remind myself sometimes that the world doesn’t revolve around us, and that some people don’t *want* to have to cut dairy, even if they are lactose intolerant. I find most commercially vegan cheese pretty nasty, so I can imagine someone who wasn’t vegan, but still lactose intolerant, wanting to eat something as similar to real cheese as possible.

    • Lisa

      When I first went vegan, I hated products like this! They seem to market towards vegans and for those who don’t carefully read labels (although if you’re vegan you probably do) it’s frustrating to find out certain “dairy free” products, are indeed, filled with dairy

    • http://blisstree.com/ Carrie Murphy

      This is so effed.

    • Whitney Sanchez

      Also, a lot of cheeses contain rennet, so the Veggie Slices are more suitable for vegetarians.

    • http://www.facebook.com/flowers.of.evil Sonya Hill

      Just bought this today went out to the car and took a closer look while waiting for my mom when I saw the ” contains milk” I took it right back in returned it and bought daiya. It was my first vegan shopping trip and I was very confused by this. This post helped clear that up, thanks!!

    • Frank Oliver Biddle

      There are other chemicals in these products that make them unacceptable. You would think that if a company made the effort to produce a “healthy” cheese, they would have omitted harmful chemicals. I won’t buy any these products.

    • floridagirl_007

      ughh I read this after already eating a grilled cheese sandwich. I will be sure to carefully read misleading labels as I’m now starting to cut dairy. Great post!

    • Karen Sullivan

      Thank you for blogging this, I am newly vegan, I was very disappointed to discover this on the label of Go Veggie today! I am beginning to realize though that it is probably best not to buy any of these so called alternatives and just make my own.

    • Louie the cat

      I bought Galaxy cheese hot pepper cheese for years and enjoyed it thinking I was getting an alternative to dairy protein. Now they changed the label to “veggie.” I am very disappointed because I thought it was soy cheese. It is not. Where are the veggies in the cheese? Guess I have to go to the health food store to get a better alternative. They should label it lactose free instead of veggie.