Like other facets of the mushrooming plant-based foods industry, sales of vegan cheese have skyrocketed in recent years At first glance, Riverdel is more or less indistinguishable from any other gourmet food shop in Brooklyn. Shelves along one side of the narrow space are lined by boxes of gluten-free pasta, artisanal chocolate bars, no-added-sugar ketchup, shakers of nutritional yeast and jars of small-batch vodka sauce. On the other side is a refrigerated display case containing what appears to be a motherlode of dairy products – jalapeño cream cheese, blocks of feta and bloomy-rinded wheels of camembert – that spill from its cool confines. But look closer, and the Riverdel difference becomes clear in the fine print of the ingredients lists: the cream cheese is made from butter beans and coconut oil, the feta from coconut oil and potato starch. The camembert? Cultured sunflower seeds. They are but three of the 50-odd non-dairy cheeses, milks and yogurts for sale at Riverdel, a four-year-old vegan cheese and sandwich shop.
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