Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese

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Looks good, doesn’t it? I haven’t been able to have a classic New York breakfast like this since I stopped eating dairy almost three years ago. Why? Because most dairy-free cream cheese alternatives, like Tofutti, are soy-based and I can’t eat soy protein.

So when I saw Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese, I got excited because it’s made from coconut oil. What I failed to realize is that this product is not soy-free. In fact, “soy protein concentrate” is the fourth ingredient listed, after “filtered water,” “coconut oil,” and “mid-oleic sunflower oil.”

I was so eager to try it that I ignored the fact that it’s essentially the same as Tofutti. I’ve tried one dairy-free cream cheese that did not contain soy (Daiya) and it tasted horrible; the texture was also all wrong. (Turns out “pea protein isolate” doesn’t do the trick.) My theory is that, thus far, food scientists haven’t been able to simulate the flavor and texture of cream cheese without using tofu.

This is bad news for me because tofu makes my guts very unhappy. About two hours after I finished my New York breakfast, I had one of the worst stomach aches of my life. I resorted to taking Pepto-Bismol and still felt awful. My stomach has been a mess all week.

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That said, Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese is wonderfully smooth and tastes a lot like real cream cheese, although not quite as sharp. It was so tasty that I almost decided to give it another shot. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. (I’m not a masochist like L.A. Beast.) After all, I gave up dairy because it made my body feel bad… so I’m not going to eat a dairy-free alternative that has the same effect. I’ve learned my lesson: When a product contains soy protein, I need to not eat it.

If you don’t have a problem with soy, try it — at your own risk, of course.

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