14 December 2011

Attention cheese lovers: Top reasons to quit eating cheese

TDIV READER QUESTION: I love cheese but want to quit. Tell me things about cheese that will make me never want to eat it again.

First off, if you want to quit eating cheese, that’s wonderful news! Like most vegans, I wasn’t born vegan. I grew up eating meat and dairy products, and that included a lot of cheese. Once I gave up cheese, I felt so much better and had much more energy too. You’re making the right decision by cutting out cheese from your diet. Cheese can be a tough one to drop but once you learn the reality of cheese, you won’t have any problem cutting it out.

If you find yourself hung up on cheese, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Cheese is one of the hardest products to ditch and for a good reason: cheese is addictive. No really, cheese has opiates in it. Cheese is packed with amphetamine-like chemicals called phenylethylamine. Good rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce a word, much less spell the word then you shouldn’t risk putting it in your body.

Cheese also contains casein (a protein found in milk and cheese). Casein breaks apart during digestion to produce morphine-like compounds called casomorphins. From PCRM’s website, “These opiates are believed to be responsible for the mother-infant bond that occurs during nursing. It’s no surprise many of us feel bonded to the refrigerator.” Another drawback of casein: it has been shown to lead to cancer. Cheese is also packed with saturated fat and cholesterol, which clogs your arteries and can lead to heart disease and strokes.

If that’s not enough, many cheeses are made with rennet, which is an enzyme that comes from a calves’ stomach lining. It gets worse. Cheese—like all dairy products—contains pus. Cheese contains pus due to the cows that udders get bacterial infections because of the dairy industry treating them like milk machines.

If somehow you’ve read the above and you still want to eat cheese then just think about the cruel and abusive dairy industry is. Cows only produce milk when they are pregnant. On dairy farms, cows are impregnated over and over again, and are drugged so that they will produce more milk than what they naturally would. The male calves are taken away when they are just one day old and are used for veal.

Are you grossed out and fully convinced to give up cheese now? The good news is that there are many dairy-free cheese alternatives out there, so you won’t have to miss anything. Tofutti brand makes a variety of soy cheeses (as well as nondairy cream cheese, sour cream and ice cream). Teese vegan cheese is another delicious vegan cheese, and my personal favorite vegan cheese is Daiya which you can find at your local health food store. Another great bonus about switching to vegan cheese: they are cholesterol free!

Happy cheese-free eating!

Michelle Carr | Twitter
Michelle is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a Bachelors degree in Sociology/Social Psychology. She has been vegetarian since 2006 and vegan since 2008. Michelle is the founder of No Animals Harmed, a blog dedicated to compassionate living. Michelle currently resides in Los Angeles, with her rescued companion dog, Callie.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/mathiasbaert