Cheese analogues are substitutes of cheese that are made to imitate the taste and the look of real cheese. Such substitutes replace the dairy milk by other plant-based ingredients. The fat in the milk is replaced by other kinds of fat of animal or plant origin. Sometimes the proteins found in milk are also replaced by proteins from other sources. Cheese analogues are usually used because of health reasons, for example lactose intolerance. They are also used as a personal choice (e.g. veganism, or for religious reasons). In most cases, Cheese analogue is kosher.
Cheese analogue cost less to make than real cheese. By carefully choosing the ingredients in the analogue, other characteristics such as the melting temperature and the taste can be changed. Flavour enhancers can be added to make the product taste similar to Parmesan, feta or Camembert cheese, for example. Food coloring is used to match the color of a cheese product. Real cheese undergoes a ripening process, cheese analogues do not have this: Usually, vegetable oil is heated, and mixed with a premade powder and water. Flavour enhancers are added. After cooling, the product is ready for packaging.
In Europe, cheese analogue is used for gastronomy and in bakeries; In the United States, it is marketed as a replacement for real cheese. The arguments used cater to people who do not want to use real cheese for personal reasons, or that cannot use it for health reasons.