CHRISTMAS is all about finding something different – and in my family there is a real sense of achievement for whoever manages to bring home something special for the Big Day’s cheeseboard.

So you can imagine how chuffed I was with myself that I thought I had this year’s winner nailed, with more than a week to go until Christmas. Thankfully though, I gave it a dry run before serving it up in pride of place, or I would likely be disowned by my own family.

Having had my eye caught in the supermarket by Violife’s Christmas Dairy Free Platter, I recruited Adver features writer (and real life vegan) Sarah Singleton and Menu editor Gill Harris to give the platter a whirl.

Now I should probably start by prefacing that although I am a huge dairy lover, I do really relate to the principles of veganism – especially on environmental grounds. I have tried to go vegan on several occasions, but it’s always the cheese that knocks me off the wagon.

And this product sums up exactly this sentiment. Vegan cheese is beyond awful. No two ways about it.

This attractively packaged platter will set you back the not unreasonable sum of £5.50 for three, erm, dairy free items, in the form of a Mature, Cranberry After Dinner, and Blu.

Unfortunately the packaging is the only nice thing about these vacuum-packed disgraces. If one of your guests brings one of these round for Christmas, leave it wrapped, then discreetly dispose of it. Though I suspect archaeologists in centuries to come digging down through our landfill will still come across these in their undegraded form, and conclude that people living in the early 21st century were forced to live in such abhorrent conditions, and knew nothing of the joys of flavour.

The nicest of the three is the Mature, which is anything but mature. Think solid margarine - with a slightly synthetic after taste. The After Dinner Cranberry (which is unlikely to be enjoyed before, during or after dinner) sort of resembles a solid, slightly warmer, frozen yoghurt in its consistency. Then there is the Blu – the worst of the lot. It’s sort of a sad, grey slime colour, that Gill described as being “distinctly Soviet”. Even starving families in 1980s East Germany wouldn’t have fed this tripe to their kids. Our own vegan suggested she would rather go without than put herself through more of these.

The first supermarket we went to in order to pick up one of these platters had sold out. That’s a whole-load of households in the town due for a sorry Christmas. And now I have less than a week to unearth something special if my cheese-credentials are to last into the New Year. Though I know now I won’t be attempting Veganuary this year!