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Vegan cheesecake is a variation on the classic dessert made with ingredients that do not come from animal products because vegans are people who do not eat any food derived from animals, including dairy products, eggs, and honey. While "regular" cheesecakes include ingredients such as cream cheese, eggs, and butter. Vegan cheese cake recipes include foods such as tofu, soy cream cheese, and vegan margarine instead. A vegan cheesecake can be made in varieties similar to "regular" cheesecakes, including plain, fruit, and chocolate.
The origins of cheesecake have been lost to time. Athenaeus, an ancient Greek writer, wrote the oldest cheesecake recipe known today sometime around 230 A.D. This cheesecake recipe calls for pounded cheese, honey, and wheat flour. Today’s cheesecake, along with the later vegan cheesecake, arose from these modest beginnings.
Although the concept of veganism is ancient, the term "vegan" did not come into use until 1944. British carpenter Donald Watson (1910-2005) invented the word when he and his wife Dorothy, who were vegetarians, decided to become even stricter in their eating habits by foregoing eggs, dairy products, or any other food products derived from animal sources. Watson, along with another vegan pioneer, Sally Shrigley, founded the first Vegan Society in 1944 in England.
Those who wish to convert a standard cheesecake recipe to a vegan cheesecake recipe may find it difficult. Many of the ingredients, such as sugar, fruits, and cornstarch, are inherently vegan. The problem lies with the dairy and eggs in cheesecakes.
Soy milk, rice milk, or nut milk may be substituted for standard milk in baking recipes, keeping in mind that the flavor will not be exactly the same. If a recipe calls for cream or half-and-half, non-dairy creamer, coconut milk, or soy creamer may be substituted. The bulk of a vegan cheesecake would consist of vegan cream cheese, silken tofu, or tofu. Vegan egg replacer mixed with the appropriate amount of water can replace eggs in baking recipes.
Vegans may have to experiment to get the right mix and consistency of ingredients when using a regular cheesecake recipe. Even vegan cheesecake recipes found online may require a couple of tries to get this vegan dessert right. For example, some may prefer a thicker cheesecake consistency than the recipe offers or may find that the cheesecake needs to be cooked longer than the recipe states.
Fruit is naturally vegan. Any type of cheesecake and fruit flavors go together well. Vegan fruit toppings, such as mango, blueberry, and strawberry are easy-to-make additions for cheesecakes. Vegans can also enjoy raspberry swirled, pumpkin, and lime vegan cheesecakes. Another alternative is to top a vegan cheesecake with a variety of fresh fruits.