"I could never give up cheese!"
We all love cheese, don't we? It's the #1 hardest thing to give up when you decide to go vegan, so some people teeter on the brink of being vegan because they just can't quit the cheese.
What makes it so hard to stop eating? Sure, it tastes and smells so good, we're so used to putting it on everything we eat, and we don't really want to give it up. But is that enough to fuel the incredible passion for it? Is it really that we have no will power or strength of character? Or could there be a physical reason we can't quit cheese?
An addiction to cheese probably sounds totally ridiculous to you. Often the first time I mention to someone that they truly might be addicted to it, they laugh. I mean, who's heard of anyone struggling to quit cheese, and why would you even want to give up something you love so much?
Perhaps because it's making you sick, brittle, fat, and addicted?
We've been told for a long time that the calcium in dairy is necessary for building strong bones and teeth, but studies show that people who eat the least amount of calcium from animals actually have lower rates of bone fractures than those who eat the most.
Why is there such a contradiction?
We've been told that the calcium from dairy products is the best source of calcium available, but has anyone ever mentioned that animal protein is harder to absorb in our bodies and that the body will steal the calcium from our bones in order to make up for it?
We've been told that milk is great for our body and that cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, but studies show that consumption of milk is linked to cancers, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, acne, intestinal problems, infertility, and much more.
Did you know animals aren't meant to drink milk after weaning, and that most people lose the enzyme that helps them digest milk, therefore becoming lactose intolerant?
And most concerning, did you know that the animal protein in cheese, casein, is more highly concentrated in cheese than any other dairy product and there are casomorphins in cheese that behave in our body the same way the opiate morphine does? Perhaps that's why it's so hard to give it up.
Remind me again why we drink cow's milk.
I wrote Cut the Cheese because I heard over and over again, "The only thing that stops me from being vegan is cheese."
I could feel the pain of this problem because I lived it myself.
I am a former cheese lover. When I say I loved cheese, I really mean that I loved it. I could eat it with fruit and vegetables and be happy forever. I would eat almost any variety, but I loved expensive cheese. I considered cheese the finishing touch to every meal, and I put cheese on everything.
I became a vegetarian when I was 12, and I did it without much research and with a ton of stubbornness. Giving up meat was not hard at all. I didn't want to eat meat anymore and that was that. For the next 14 years, I was a vegetarian, without much rhyme or reason. People would ask me why and I'd just tell them that I loved animals and didn't want to eat them.
But, in my 20s, I started to search for meaning to my decisions. Almost immediately I learned that the dairy industry was bad. I'd always imagined that cows needed to be milked, but I was very wrong. I didn't want to hurt animals, but I learned that the dairy industry was one of the most harmful to animals, destructive to the environment, and damaging to the natural economy of any of the animal industries.
What I learned made me upset, but selfishly, I thought of my cheese. I really didn't think I could ever stop eating cheese permanently. I could see myself cutting back on it, but committing to quitting it forever seemed nearly impossible.
Before I'd decided to stop eating it, I tried a vegan cheese, and wow, it was awful. The substitute wasn't anywhere close to the real thing. To top it off, the vegan cheese was expensive.
I was so conflicted; on the one hand, I knew my values were more in line with veganism, but I just couldn't see how I could give up cheese. I was waging an internal battle. I just loved cheese too much to ever stop eating it.
As I struggled with cheese, I easily transitioned to nondairy milk and ice cream. I had no real issue with switching to new milks. At first the vegan versions tasted different, but I adjusted quickly.
One day it just hit me; I couldn't be against the veal industry and still support its source, the dairy industry. I quit cheese that day.
The next day, I quit it for another day. I could commit to a day at a time, and that's what I did. I never fully decided to take it out of my life because I felt such a sense of loss in the "forever," so I stuck to what I could handle.
At first it was murder. At home I could cook my way around cheese, but going out to eat was really difficult. Cheese is in so many dishes. I was the only one ordering that way, and I had to watch as everyone else ate cheese. I also had to ask for the cheese to be left off my food, and I was a little embarrassed and somewhat disappointed in the cheeseless dishes
Grocery trips took me so much longer because dairy is in everything. It was really hard to find foods that didn't contain some type of whey, butter, milk, or cheese. I felt like I was making my life more complicated, but I also started to feel more confident in my decisions. I felt like I was standing for something important, and that empowered me. On the days I felt down about missing my favorite food, I just thought of the animals I was helping.
An added bonus was that I dropped a little bit of weight. I wasn't overweight to begin with and never really fluctuated much on weight, but without doing anything except cutting cheese out of my diet, I lost about 10 pounds. I felt lighter and more energetic, and my skin and hair looked amazing. I never knew how much cheese was weighing me down. I know this is a direct result from quitting cheese because it was the very last animal product I stopped eating.
After a few weeks, I didn't have as much trouble on a daily basis, and I found myself able to commit to a week of no cheese. After a month, I got to the point where I didn't really want to eat it anymore, but I did still enjoy the smell of a good, sharp cheese.
I've been vegetarian on and off for almost 20 years now and have a hard time giving up cheese. Most of the time I can go with hummus or nut butter to fill the richness craving and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast on cheese-free pizza or pasta hits the spot. Daiya shreds and Follow Your Heart cream cheese are blessings! I love them!
I don't remember the next few months too distinctly, and I think that's because they didn't bother me. Everything got easier after my body detoxified from the dairy that had built up in my body over the course of 20 years. While I still didn't find a vegan cheese that had the same taste as real dairy cheese, it didn't bother me as much.
Now I can't go past the fancy cheese aisle at the supermarket without plugging my nose. The smell to me is no longer alluring, but extremely off-putting. I sat in the car recently with a few boxes of pizza and thought I was going to throw up. Being unable to stomach the smell of cheese is an enormous testament to how different my body is now, years after quitting cheese, and I will never go back.
I live in an area that is not a mecca of veganism, so I started making my own cheesy recipes with awesome ingredients like nutritional yeast and nuts, and I found that food actually tastes even better when it's not slathered in cheese.
For you I made Cut the Cheese. I know how much you love cheese and I know how ridiculous and impossible the idea of quitting it seems. I know how bad vegan cheese can taste when you're still addicted to dairy cheese. And, I know what kinds of cheese recipes you absolutely must have in your life, once you are totally detoxified off dairy and ready to open your mind to new options.
Some people can stop eating cheese out of nowhere and never look back, perhaps because they think of animals suffering and can just fortify their minds with those images. Others struggle immensely, and it isn't because we lack will power. Cheese is powerfully addictive and you should not feel bad for loving it. But, you should know the facts.
Tonight I made the Fire Grilled White Bean Quesadillas and Nutritional Yeast Nacho Cheese Sauce. WOWZER they are good. First the Cheese sauce. I followed the recipe and measured everything... that was a task because I usually eyeball ingredients. It is one of (if not) the best vegan cheese sauces I have had so far. I love the tomatoes and chilies in it and it is super simple. I am in love with the quesadillas! These are so good. I would serve them to onmi-guests! My 6-year-old son devoured it and my husband went out tonight.. .he has no idea what he is missing! My son was sucking his fingers and said "Mom, that one was super cheesy!" We dipped the quesadillas in the Nacho cheese sauce! Cheesy goodness. I will be making these again and again!!
Healthy Vegan Cheeses
Fire Grilled White Bean Quesadillas
Mushroom Spinach Lasagna
Perfect Vegan Parmesan Cheese
Nutritional Yeast Nacho Cheese Sauce
Fancy Cashew Cheese for Crackers
Rich, Decadent, Cheesy Vegan Cheeses
Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Old-Fashioned Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
Elegant French Onion Soup
NY Style Vegan Cheesecake
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Anytime you try something new, you will run into difficulties, and quitting cheese is no different. Whether you've already cut it out of your life and you're wondering how to help a few friends go vegan or whether you're just considering going vegan and want to know how to get enough calcium without dairy, this forum is for you.
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I have been vegetarian for about a year now but only just cut out dairy about a month ago. I'd been suffering from many digestive and skin issues and a new naturopath I started seeing took me off dairy. It was hard, mostly because I couldn't imagine life without cheese! But I've done it and it was actually way easier than I thought and I feel SO much better! It sure did look exactly like my old dairy-laden mac and cheese. The pinch of paprika helped give it a slightly orangey color, which was good. It looked creamy and exactly like the real thing. My son ate about half his bowl, which is pretty good since, if he doesn't like something he generally takes the world's smallest nibble and then proceeds to pretend to gag and vomit. When he ate this he said, "it's good but I like the real kind better." And that's about the best I could have hoped for from him. It's pretty much impossible to go from eating real cheese one day to a dairy free cheese substitute the next and think it's just as delicious. That's why I think the fact that he thought it was "pretty good" was high praise indeed!
Cut the Cheese: Quit Your Dairy Addiction to Transform Your Life
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