This Whole Foods Vegan Find Beats Trader Joe’s by a Mile
If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written for this site in the past year, you know how much I truly and deeply love Trader Joe’s. I do not get paid to say that the store has my heart, my grocery money, and maybe even my firstborn child when the time comes. And although it’s my grocery store of choice (I conveniently live two blocks from one!), I hate to admit that I sometimes cheat on it by going to Whole Foods, which is also in my neighborhood.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons by shopping at both stores (namely that my money goes a lot further at TJ’s), but here’s one lesson I’d regrettably like to hammer home for you all: The vegan shredded cheese at Trader Joe’s is no match for the vegan shredded cheese at Whole Foods. THERE, I SAID IT!
A few months ago, I finally got my hands on the often-sold-out vegan mozzarella shreds from Trader Joe’s ($3.49) and gave you all a very honest review. To refresh your memory: In short, I was not wowed. The ingredients (water, canola oil, cornstarch, vegetable glycerin, arrowroot starch, tricalcium phosphate, pea protein, salt, natural vegan flavors, powdered cellulose, and a bunch of other unpronounceables) made me nervous to ingest it.
Then I got my hands on its vegan counterpart, Just Like Mozzarella Shreds from Violife ($4.99), which is new at Whole Foods and (for some reason) 100 percent better. Like with most things at Whole Foods, the ingredient list reads a lot cleaner. The first one is still water (lol) followed by coconut oil, potato and corn starch, salt, mozzarella flavor, olive extract, vitamin b12, and powdered cellulose. The list was a lot shorter than TJ’s, so right from the start I had a better feeling about it. If you close your eyes and eat it out of the bag, you won’t even be able to tell the difference between this cheese and actual mozz.
The real difference between these vegan shreds and the real deal occurs when the cheese undergoes whatever scientific reaction that occurs when it’s blasted with heat from the oven. For those of you who have forgotten, this is what the Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella shreds look like when melted. It is extremely goopy and leaves a layer of some fake cheese polymer on your teeth that is virtually impossible to coax off by normal measures. It’s not gooey, though. It looks like it will be, but it’s oddly liquid-y? The best way to describe this cheese in its melted form is “flubber.”
The above pizza is a hybrid of normal, non-vegan mozzarella (on top) and Whole Foods’ Violife Just Like Mozzarella Shreds (on bottom). As you can see, the vegan version, even after baking, does not appear to be visibly melted — very unlike the Trader Joe’s version. While I was disappointed by the lack of melt-y-ness, I took a bite, and was not nearly as repulsed as I was when I tried the pizza made of melted shreds from TJ’s. In fact, I actually liked it! If I wasn’t looking, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the vegan slice and the regular cheesy slice.
Don’t get me wrong — I will choose a pizza with real cheese over vegan “shreds” every day for the rest of my days, but in the event I were to convert to veganism these Violife shreds wouldn’t be a half bad replacement. And I can assure you that they are many, many moons better than the version from TJ’s.
Have you tried either of these? What’d you think?