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Old-School Easy, Cheesy Vegan Gravy or Sauce (Miso-Based)

I enjoy sharing delicious traditional recipes that have been modified to meet the needs of those who are vegan or gluten-sensitive.

This cheesy gravy is vegan and oil-free.

This cheesy gravy is vegan and oil-free.

Isn't Vegan Cheese an Oxymoron?

If you are becoming vegan for a particular reason, say, because of the fact that much of the world's dairy supply is contaminated with antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals, and/or you no longer want to eat animals or consume interspecies' milk, for compassionate reasons, you have probably tried a variety of cheese alternatives. Some of the ingredients in cheese substitutes are suspect (eg., carrageenan) and some of the 'cheese flavours' and textures leave much to be desired if you grew up in a family of cheese connoisseurs, or are from Germanic stock. Mostly you will be rather cowed (sorry, pun intended) by the cost of fake cheese.

I'm writing this article to tell you that you can learn to make a very tasty cheesy sauce, dip, spread, or gravy that will relieve your body of toxic chemicals found in milk, and will free you up from an overdose of those above-mentioned opioids that keep you running up and down the calf-trails. You will be cheese-free, at last!

The recipe I am including here is one of many hundreds that you can experiment with. It is easy, satisfying, and actually contains plant nutrients and fibre that you won't find in regular stinky cheese.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

10 min

25 min

3 adult servings


  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) miso
  • 1/4 cup (80 milliliters) water, hot
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) turmeric
  • 1/4 cup (80 milliliters) flour, whole wheat or gluten-free blend
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) nutritional yeast (NOT brewer's yeast)
  • 1 1/4 cups (320 milliliters) soy or other non-dairy milk, unsweetened
  • 1/4 teaspoon (pinch) sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) raw cashews or sunflower seeds, soaked


  1. Whisk together the miso and water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat just until it begins to sizzle a little.
  3. Stir in the garlic, stirring constantly, just until it is beginning to turn golden—about 30 seconds. Do not overcook.
  4. Add in the turmeric, blending it well into the other ingredients above.
  5. Turn the heat down to low.
  6. Stir in the flour and nutritional yeast, making a dry blend of all ingredients.
  7. Slowly and thoroughly whisk in the miso-water mix, smoothing out lumps as much as possible. Add in the milk in small increments, continuing to whisk the sauce smooth. Work out any lumps
  8. Turn the heat another notch lower and add the cashews and salt, continuing to stir for another 2 to 4 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it will not scorch.
  9. Turn off the heat and let the pan sit on a cool burner for about 10 minutes.
  10. Put the contents of the pan into a blender and let whirl until the ingredients are smooth and cheesy-looking.
  11. Fold the mixture back into the saucepan and cover until ready to serve, then heat through briefly.
  12. Use as a gravy over baked and oven-fried potatoes; as a mac 'n cheese sauce; as a dip; as a casserole topping, etc. Add in smoked paprika, chipotle, or other seasonings as desired.
  13. The leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin with a little water or non-dairy milk and reheat.

Are You Craving Something Cheesy With Your Healthy Vegan Meal?

It is reported that cheese is the hardest part of a traditional diet to let go of when one has decided to "go vegan".

Guess what? Dairy products actually have an addictive mechanism, according to one of my favorite health researchers, Dr. Michael Greger. Milk proteins attract the baby calves to suckle and thrive, much as human infants are bonded through human breast milk with their mothers, whose biological function is to nurture their offspring after birth.

You have likely heard these points before: "Cow's milk is meant to grow calves; human milk is intended to grow baby humans," and "Humans are the only species who continue to drink milk beyond being weaned." Not to mention the only species to congeal their liquid stash so as to make cheese, the better to consume larger quantities of milk proteins and fats and other solids.

Are You Hooked on Cheese?

When the peptides in the dairy milk proteins break down, they form an opioid with some of the same components as morphine. As mentioned above, this milk is meant to engage the interest of the bovine baby, to keep her/him from wandering off and falling into a well somewhere while s/he is still too frail to look after him/herself.

This same opioid effect crosses over to humans consuming cow's milk, and more so for cheese, a concentrated form of milk. Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine refers to cheese as "dairy crack".

So, yes, it does seem that dairy milk and cheese would seem to be "the one thing I just can't give up."

Golden sauce

Golden sauce

Golden Sauce

Start with a simple cheesy sauce. Add spices you like, such as chipotle or paprika. Try Himalayan salt. Look for recipes that are low in fat and use turmeric to add colour and all kinds of lovely extra health benefits! "Golden sauce" above is a good one to experiment with!

Did Hippies Invent Vegan Cheese?

Although for many people today the words "hippies" and "vegan" are often synonymous, back in the '60s and '70s most of the "flower people" I knew (or read about) were either eating whatever they could get their hands on (as in "digger stew" in the hungry youthful hippie communes of Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco) or they were back-to-the-land farmer hippies, heavily into ovo-lacto vegetarianism with recipes that called for lots of free-range eggs and dairy to complement the brown rice and tofu dishes.

No, I'm going to credit the religious organization of Seventh-day Adventists for 'inventing' (or perhaps just heavily promoting) soy cheeses way back when. Even the official Soy Info Center suggests that Adventists played a significant role "in introducing soyfoods, vegetarianism, meat alternatives, wheat gluten, dietary fiber or peanut butter to the Western world." It seems highly likely that they also introduced the world to vegan cheeses.

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