Cheese, disadvantages, veganism and awesome vegan cheese alternatives!
Nowadays, the love of cheese is certainly real, alive, and made very apparent. We top it on our pizzas, shred it on our salads, add it to our bread, grill it in our sandwiches, eat it plain, the list goes on! Being literally addictive, it tends to be one of the hardest foods for people to give up.
Hearing this, you might be thinking,
“That’s fine, because why would anyone want to give it up?”,
and to be completely honest, I was in your exact situation and mindset at one point, before I was vegan that is. Therefore, I know it’s quite a difficult thing to understand. You just need to be open-minded.
There are numerous reasons people quit eating cheese. A lactose intolerance, which over 65% of the human population possess, allergies, a hatred of its taste, or a recent switch in diets or lifestyles such as that of Veganism.
‘Wait a minute… Vegans don’t eat cheese?”
Sorry buddy, they don’t. To be more exact, (we) vegans don’t eat ANY animal products or by products, including all meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. This knowledge may formulate a ton of questions in your head, but to keep things neat and simple, my blog post today will be mainly focused on the reasons behind vegans saying “No” to cheese. Read along with me, as we learn together! 🙂
Do You Know What Cheese Really Is?
Milk drinking began approximately 7,500 Years Ago in central Europe. The aliment we know today as “cheese“ was created around 2500 years later.
But, what is it precisely? And Why are you saying it’s sooo bad for us? Let’s find out, shall we?
Cheese is a food essentially made out of pressed curds of milk. What makes cheese stand out is the distinct aged flavor derived from a process of fermentation with other added cultures, primarily the Lactic acid bacteria strains.
During the process, depending on the desired product, an acid source, such as acetic acid and glucono delta-lactone, or rennet, that was microbial processed or extracted from the stomach of an unweaned calf or made, is added to the ingredient list.
Yeast and molds are also often used to provide a more appealing color and more flavors to different varieties.
THE TRUTH Behind The Refusal To Eat Cheese
You may be slightly perplexed as to why vegans voluntarily give up tasty dairy products like cheese.
It can be quite a confusing concept to understand, considering the majority of us probably grew up being told that dairy comes from happy grazing cows living on beautiful farms and is essential to our growth. This way of thinking over the years has slowly ingrained itself deeply into our cultures, traditions, daily meals and regimen beliefs, but it may be time for a mind opener ;).
What Really Goes On Behind the Scenes
If you have a sensitive stomach or perhaps just ate a large lunch (anyone else?) you may want to skim through this part (Don’t want to throw up on that new carpet!).
Now, when it comes to the ethical standpoint of view, sadly the process of all dairy products are not as pure as we think (sorry mom). Yes, even those organic products coming from locally owned farms:(. Sigh.
In order to make a female cow lactate and provide humans enough milk, there are three requirements that must be met.
A) She must be pregnant.
B) She must then give birth.
C) She must produce or have enough to go around.
Now, cows do not naturally just get pregnant all the time, and even when they do, they use the milk to nourish their infant NOT humans. This is where it becomes a problem in the eyes of farmers and the dairy industry looking to make a living off of their milk. This is animal cruelty and it’s one of the #1 reasons that most people go vegan. As Hayley on thesparksproject.com explains via her article, why I went vegan here there is many reasons why we, as vegans, go vegan, including animal cruelty, environment and health. And what most of us soon find out, shortly after going vegan, is that the substitutes for animal products, such as vegan cheese below, taste even better than the original animal based products anyway.
So what do these workers do to solve the problem?
A) Workers chain and enclose these living organisms to prevent harsh resistance by placing them in a tiny crate, preventing any muscle growth or development. (Ouch:( )
B) They place the animals on a “rape rack” (Basically a torture device created by Harry Harlow, a vivisector (renowned for his other invention “The Pit of Despair”).
C) They thrust their arm deep inside the female’s rectum, position her uterus correctly, and then into the vagina they place a cold, metal instrument that artificially impregnates the cows.
D) After giving birth, the female begins to lactate (as every mother does) in order to provide for her youth, but since we wish to greedily steal more of her milk, the youngling is taken away after only days to weeks of being born. This places a TON of stress on these animals, possibly leading to depression and other long-term illnesses.
All male children who are born are used and slaughtered for veal since they serve no other purpose in the dairy industry. Cows are also killed to obtain an enzyme in their stomachs called rennet (a component in the making of cheese we discussed earlier).
As you can probably imagine (or don’t, it really is quite a sickening scene), living under these sort of circumstances results in a GREAT reduction in lifespans in these innocent beings. Lowered from an average mortality rate of 18-22+ years (The oldest cow that lived reached an age of 49!) to a short 4-5.
The Connection Between Cheese & Diseases
“But Isn’t it a Good Source of Calcium?” “Don’t We Need to Consume Dairy?”
I get it. You care about the animals, but your health does come first. I completely agree. If I am going to cut something out of my life, I don’t want the effort to go to vain and consequently become ill as a result.
Believe it or not, vegans need their calcium just as much as any other normal human being on this planet (Shocker!). The only difference is the sources we obtain it from. Cheese and dairy themselves have been proven to possess numerous adverse health effects. Luckily they are not the sole providers of this mineral. We can survive without them.
Remember how we looked back on the origins of dairy and found human dairy consumption began 7500 years ago, with cheese being more recent? Let’s just say, that this is quite a minuscule time period in comparison to the number of prior years humans lived without it.
Plus, just LIKE Raoum from SukkariLife states in her blog post here, calcium found in dairy products is not absorbed properly in the human body!!! Yes you read right! All that calcium that they make us believe is contained in dairy, we don’t actually absorb! I can’t recommend her blog enough, you should check it out for all things, life, health, food and veganism!
To put things into perspective better, it should be noted that the earliest recorded fossils of anatomically modern humans date back all the way to the Middle Paleolithic, 200,000 years ago! Now considering it all, I don’t think that cheese is necessary for us to survive.
Cheese and dairy products are filled to the brim with pus cells (Bleh), hormones (hello acne), antibiotics (oh my goodness), cholesterol (my heart), no fiber (constipation), and much more.
Unsurprisingly, they are also strongly linked to diseases such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, ovarian cancer, obesity …
Now when it comes to calcium, they are certainly not the only much less the best source of it! A cup of dairy milk has about 300 mg of calcium, however, the catch is that only 30% of it (90 mg) is bioavailable (absorbable). Better sources of calcium, stem from plant-based foods such as; tofu, veggies, and calcium-intense vegetables like chinese mustard greens with absorption rates of around 40%, whereas ½ a cup possesses the equivalent to the amount of calcium in one cup of milk. (Let’s get those strong bone gains! ).
Plus they don’t have any of the icky stuff like cholesterol, hormones, saturated fat, cancer-promoting properties… If you do more unbiased research on this (making sure to avoid studies funded by the dairy company), you’ll gradually come to understand these facts a lot more!
AMAZING CHEESE SUBS
It can be hard to quit. After all, cheese is just as addictive as hard drugs due to a chemical called casomorphins within. However, when eliminating this particular aliment from your diet, you may commit easier to a transition, thanks to tasty vegan cheese alternatives that may curb those cravings more efficiently ;).
Miyoko’s Creamery cheese
Heidi Ho is a lesser-known vegan company that makes delicious cheezy dips, cream cheese and much more. Their products are made from healthy fats like chia seeds, hazelnuts and are all dairy + gluten-free.
This one is a winner in my books. A product of the company field roast, Chao cheese is one of the more realistic alternatives to cheese on the market. They come in slices, shreds, you can melt it and add it to any of your favorite dishes. They sell a variety of different flavors as well.
Vtopian Artisan Cheeses
UGH!! This is such a good company! Their line of cashew cultured products burst with flavor and possess that ooey-gooey texture cheese-lovers enjoy! All of their dairy food items and spreads are gourmet, healthy, and made with tons of love I’m sure ;).
Daiya is one of the most renowned vegan alternative companies in the game, and are primarily known for their line of vegan cheeses that slice, dice, and melt. You honestly can’t go wrong buying from here, if your goal is to replicate the authentic taste/texture of dairy cheese.
Dr. Cow Cream Cashew Nuts Alternative Cheese
Dr.Cow sells an amazing line of cultured cashew nut cheese! Healthy and filled with plenty of nutrients and flavor, it is a definite yes from me.
Kite Hill Cream Cheese Style Spreads
Kite hill has got to be in my top 3 list of go-to cheeses. They use all natural ingredients, an amazing combination of spices, and a lovely packaging that manages to pull me in every time. My personal favorite is their line of cream cheese spreads. Perfect for those morning toasted bagels!
So What’s the Conclusion?
With a new grasp on the ins and the outs of the dairy industry, the health disadvantages of cheese and so forth, looking at cheese may never be the same for you (probably). This being said, it is not required for you to cut out all the cheesiness in your life. Eating the vegan cheeses above will surely do the trick and eventually, you’ll be completely dairy free! It takes time, as the formation of all good habits does.