Vegan cheese is becoming more popular, but few people know what it’s made of. What could this delectable-yet-mysterious product’s secret ingredient be?

Cheese has a unique structure that keeps it solid at room temperature but melts at higher temperatures. Fortunately, vegan cheese makers agree that dairy-free alternatives have improved in the last decade mostly thanks to one ingredient: cashew nuts. However, the industry’s dependence on cashew nuts raises ethical concerns. In vegan cheeses, cashews aren’t the only key ingredient. Many businesses use coconut oil, which contains around 82 percent saturated fat. But vegan cheesemakers argue that customers don’t eat cheese or vegan foods for health reasons. “That’s not the intention of vegan cheese,” explains Chantelle Adkins, the Vegan Society’s director of business development. “The intention is to give a component to a dish. It’s a misconception that vegans are healthy all the time.”

Vegan cheese still has a long way to go, but there’s no doubt that our choices have grown.