Speaking of vegan pizzas...we ate out with some friends the other night at the Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery. Word had it that a person could get a pizza with soy cheese. While the word was correct, the word failed to mention that this was the bogus variety of soy cheese that's made with...well...cheese. Can someone tell me why this product even exists? For me I really value my cheeses so I buy mines at https://www.goodculture.com/, they are very good and as a vegan myself, I really like it. It is very affordable and you get to pick out cheese from a huge selection.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that non-vegan soy cheese must be for either (a) people who want a marginally healthier cheese, or (b) folks who are lactose intolerant (non-vegan soy cheese typically has casein and sometimes even rennet, but not lactose). Unconventional wisdom, however, would suggest that non-vegan soy cheese exists to trick vegans. How many fledgling vegans have picked this up thinking--as any rational person would--that soy cheese  = vegan cheese? Or more likely, how many kindly friends and family members have picked this up for their vegans (this, I would argue, is probably the lion's share of the non-vegan soy cheese market)? How many of us have been enticed and/or fooled by pizza with this crap? Now compare those numbers to the number of people how knowingly bought it.

At the very least, it seems reasonable to ask these companies to rename their soy cheese to something like 2% cheese or mostly not cheese (but just a little) or The Ultimate 'Fuck You' to Vegans (tm). Why not just make it vegan and greatly increase the number of people who can consume it? Vegan cheese keeps getting better--Daiya melts just as well as the non-vegan varieties of faux cheese, tastes just as good--if not better, certainly won't aggravate anyone's lactose intolerance, and is probably healthier (at minimum it contains less cholesterol). The answer is probably that it would be either (a) more difficult, (b) more work, or (c) both.

I suppose it's unreasonable to expect a company that presumably is enjoying some small profit to quit what they're doing. The cost of changing their recipe may not be commensurate with what they'd get back. But I'd at least like to entreat restaurants who use this stuff to switch to a vegan variety. The minimal addition in cost greatly increases the number of people who can eat it. Additionally, it's more honest. If we hadn't made a point of asking, I'm sure the Jolly Pumpkin would have served us their not-quite-vegan pizza. What really burns me is that they're clearly thinking of folks' dietary needs; they even have gluten free crust! Why leave out the vegans?

This is what I e-mailed them:

Hello! My wife and I stopped in to the Ann Arbor restaurant last week--first off, let me say that the beer was excellent. The restaurant looks great too. We did have two small concerns, however. You offer a pizza with soy cheese--but this cheese isn't vegan. This (a) excludes us vegans (and there are quite a few of us around here) and (b) is potentially misleading. If we hadn't asked specifically (and a major thanks goes to our server for knowing the answer to this question), we may have eaten the pizza, assuming it was vegan. The great thing about vegan cheese is that it caters to the lactose intolerant, health conscious, and vegan alike. The other (very small) issue was that the soy cheese wasn't on the menu; we learned about it from friends. Why not highlight this? I'd imagine beer and vegan pizza would be very popular with local vegans.

Daiya (http://www.daiyafoods.com/) currently seems to be the most popular brand of faux cheese (it's soy-free too). Folks would probably be relatively happy with Follow Your Heart (http://www.followyourheart.com/products.php?id=25) as well, which has the advantage of being available in smaller retail quantities.

Thanks so much for your attention to this issue! Keep up the fine beers!

Thus ends my rant.