30 April 2012

Cheeseaholics anonymous: The truth about cheese

My name is Jessica and I am a recovering cheese addict. This is no joke. Cow’s milk actually contains traces of morphine, codeine, and other opiates, which are naturally produced in cow’s livers and end up in their milk.

Cheese has the highest concentration of casein, a protein that breaks down during digestion and releases a slew of opiates. So yes, you may very well have a cheese addiction. Not to worry, I am here to help.

While it has been over a year since I’ve had cheese, or any dairy product, on rare occasions I may find myself in the face of temptation and I find it helps to remember what cows suffer through to produce that cheese.

Cows bodies only produce milk after giving birth and within twenty-four hours of doing so the baby cows are taken away from their mothers so they wont consume any of the milk supply. Against their natural behavior, cows are forced to give birth every year by artificial insemination.

Farmers are using genetic manipulation to ensure cows produce one hundred pounds of milk a day, which is ten times more than they would produce on their own. Once their milk production declines they are slaughtered, generally before their fifth birthday, which is 15 years before their natural life expectancy.

Not only are these practices inhumane, dairy products have been linked to numerous health problems including anemia, anxiety, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoporosis, allergies, heart disease, and several types of cancer.

I found the best way to kick my addiction was to quit cold tofurky. Reading ‘Skinny Bitch’ definitely made that easier to do. If you know that won’t work for you try cutting down your intake to every other day, then every third day, until you’ve edged it out of your diet completely. When your cravings are just too much to take feel free to indulge in the substitutes.

 Daiya “cheese” shreds come in cheddar, mozzarella, and pepperjack flavors and melt like a dream. Follow your heart vegan gourmet makes brick “cheeses” in mozzarella, monterey jack, cheddar, and nacho. Be sure to read the ingredients when shopping for alternatives, as casein has found it’s way into some soy alternatives.

If you’d rather stick to whole foods I’ve found avocado to be a great substitute. It’s high (healthy) in fat content and its creamy consistency is great for keeping temptation at bay. I like to mash half an avocado mixed with vegennaise as a spread on sandwiches.

Find what works best for you and stick with it. The improvements you feel in your health and energy levels will be enough to keep you on the wagon for good!

Jessica Grosdanof | Bio | Website
Toronto, Canada Jessica is a Toronto based actress who has been working in film, television, and theatre for the past seven years. She has recently taken a leap of faith and co-founded Empty Suitcase Theatre, a company that strives to produce shows that put strong women front and centre. She is a proud Canadian, vegan, and crazy cat lady.

Photo credit: Tracy Olson