Natural Non-dairy Cheddar Flavor?

My wife buys a cheese-flavored snack popcorn called Skinnypop that makes all kinds of health claims like non-GMO, gluten free and certified vegan. It was this last claim that got my attention, as it is my understanding than vegans don’t eat cheese. Looking at the ingredients, I see they contain “Natural non-dairy cheddar flavor”. How can that be? Natural cheddar flavor comes from cheese, unless there is a cheddar flavored plant or mineral I am unaware of. And if it is a man-made cheddar flavoring, it is not natural. It is either natural or non-dairy, it cannot be both.

Can it?

Maybe it’s homepathic?

Here’s a recipe for homemade vegan cheddar. Looks like it relies on garlic, paprika, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and white miso for the flavors.

Nutritional yeast is the Vegan go-to for cheese flavor. Maybe on popcorn it can fake it.

When I first became Vegan, I was gung ho. I wanted to cook for the carnivores in my family, and then make a Vegan analog along side the meat dish. My initial creation was an enchilada. Recipes from various places instructed the Vegan cook to make a white sauce with soymilk, and then whisk nutritional yeast into the mixture. This could be used then as a “cheezy” sauce in the enchilada construction.

The finished product looked beautiful. But in NO universe could that nutritional yeast sauce EVER be considered a substitute for cheese. It was damned near inedible. I wasn’t rich enough to throw out the whole pan, so it became my lunch for a week.

I drowned each serving with salsa, and I drank gallons of water to wash down every bite.

I never touched nutritional yeast again.

It’s a man-made chemical that isn’t supernatural. There we go, natural non-dairy cheddar flavor.

There are plenty of nut-based cheese substitutes. A godsend for those of us with family members who can’t have dairy. Do they taste exactly like cheese? No. Are some a close enough approximation? Reasonably so, especially if you can’t eat dairy.

Brad Leonie trying out different fermented pop corn powders. As far as I remember, the white miso one tasted like cheddar. Natural and non-dairy.

A coworker who went vegan brought in a vegan cheese-like dip he and his wife made. I believe nutritional yeast was one of the ingredients. It was actually not bad, but there was a little bit of a graininess and an “off” aftertaste. It was the kind of thing that at first taste you say, yeah, it IS cheesy tasting and good! But if you ate more I could see getting sick of it quickly.