Cheese-etarians. We’ve all met at least one: lacto-vegetarians that say “I’m pretty much vegan, but I just can’t live without my CHEEEESE!”. I get it. Cheese is delicious. There is a cheese for literally any kind of flavor food you are preparing and it has a way of making an otherwise unappetizing dish suddenly seem strangely appealing. There’s no doubt that cheese is tasty, but when the enjoyment of cheese becomes more of a compulsion, especially when you know about factory farming and animal exploitation and yet still eat it anyway, it is no longer a simple ingredient in a dish — it is a full-blown addiction.
How to know if you are a cheese-etarian:
- You don’t eat meat, eggs or any dairy — except cheese. You might call yourself an “almost vegan”.
- You’ve tried giving up cheese, but have always eventually succumbed to the temptation of the beckoning calls of your beloved friends Gruyère, Gouda, Brie, Parmesan, Langres and Cheddar.
- You tell your vegan friends that you don’t eat much cheese, but your actions prove otherwise. It’s possible that you don’t even know how much cheese you actually consume.
- You think that meat is disgusting, and even try to teach meat-eaters and non-vegetarians about the horrors animals face in the meat industry, but you don’t give a second thought to your cheese consumption.
- You know why dairy is bad and yet still choose to eat cheese despite knowing that it is against everything you claim to stand for. You may genuinely feel guilty for eating cheese, but can’t seem to find a way to stop.
If at least one of the above statements sounds like you, you are most likely a cheese-etarian.
If more than one of the above statements sounds like you, you are definitely a cheese-etarian.
If all of the above statements sound like you, you need an intervention!
Addiction defined, as spoken by many addicts in defense of their addiction:
“I can quit whenever I want to… I just don’t want to.”
A few other popular excuses addicts often say:
- “I’ll quit tomorrow”
- “I’ll quit someday”
- “I’ll quit when I’m ready” (they never seem to be ready and don’t have a clear idea of exactly when they think they’ll be ready)
- “Well, I’ve been trying…” (let’s not forget the wise words of Master Yoda: “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”)
- “Just this last time” or “Just this once” (there is no “last time” — for addicts, there is only the time before the next time)
If you are a Cheese-etarian, listen up:
You are a laughing-stock to many vegans and even (amazingly) to many meat-eaters. You see, a hypocrite can never be taken seriously. Talking about your love of animals and how you don’t cause suffering because you’re a vegetarian and then eating cheese makes many vegans and non-vegans scoff and think “Are they serious? How can they preach against something that they fund and support?”. I don’t want you to be viewed like this, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to either. I cannot emphasize this enough: cheese really isn’t that important so snap out of it already!
“A principle is a principle, and in no case can it be watered down because of our incapacity to live it in practice. We have to strive to achieve it, and the striving should be conscious, deliberate and hard.” ~ Gandhi
I know what you’re going through. I was a lacto-vegetarian at one time myself. Deep down I knew that my actions didn’t match with my beliefs, and yet for some reason I just couldn’t stop. I have never forgotten how hard it was to quit cheese. It was the very last animal product I gave up before becoming vegan.
I know it can be rough, but you need to know that you can do it. You need to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself these questions:
“If not me, who?”
“If not now, when?”
Be honest with yourself. You know in your heart what is right. Many cheese-etarians have told me that they want to go vegan someday. Why not make today that day? I mean really, what have you got to lose?
If you’re afraid that you’ll fail please realize that there will be times when you mess up, but you have to just keep pushing forward. You’re destined to fail if you never try.
Since becoming cheese-free, I have never wanted to go back. Sure, I’ve had cravings, but I would never act on them. Knowing what I know now, there’s no way I could go back to eating something I now see only as disgusting cruelty-laden diseased animal excretions — I don’t care how good it tastes.
Remember how hard it seemed to stop eating meat when you first went vegetarian? Do you remember how hard it was at first, but eventually you started noticing yourself feeling healthier, lighter and more alive? It got easier over time, didn’t it?
And guess what: you survived.
Living meat-free isn’t so bad after all! It’s the same thing with cheese, only this time, can officially have a clear conscience because by ditching cheese (and other dairy products) you will no longer be supporting the exploitation of animals and will actually be practicing what you preach.
Remember that while you are eating cheese, waiting for some distant time in the future when you feel like you’ll finally be “ready” to give it up, animals are dying by the thousands. They don’t have time to watch you wait around for when you think it’s the “right time”. To veal calves the “right time” for you to stop eating cheese is right now.
Why no cheese?
Let’s explore some of the reasons why cheese is a bad thing (it’s good to read this even if you think you know everything about what’s wrong with cheese, because there might be something mentioned here that you aren’t already aware of):
Without the production of cheese and dairy products, the veal industry would cease to exist. In fact, one of the reasons why the veal industry even began was because no one knew what to do with all the male calves walking around eating up time and money, while producing nothing up to the time of slaughter. Farmers found it to be more economical to kill them before they could become a financial burden, and still be able to make money in the process. This goes back hundreds of years.
Click here if you want to see what your cheese consumption does to calves in the veal industry. Be warned: the video is highly graphic, though very brief (only 9 seconds).
If you’re too afraid to watch, the above video shows a baby calf hanging upside down getting his throat slit. If you can’t bear to watch the video or watched the video and were repulsed, then i strongly urge you to please stop eating cheese, because every time you eat cheese you are paying those people’s wages and you are lining the pockets of the bigwigs in charge of this cruel enterprise.
Don’t give me a sad face and say “Aww the poor baby cow! I feel terrible!”.
You feel terrible.
I felt terrible too.
But the fact is that the baby calf in this video doesn’t want you to just “feel terrible”. He wants you to do something about it. “Feeling terrible” doesn’t help him at all if you’re going to keep paying the people whose blades are in his throat.
Stop making excuses. If you really feel that bad, stop eating it!
Many cheeses aren’t even vegetarian
Many cheeses (particularly hard varieties) are made with rennet, which is taken from the stomachs of slaughtered veal calves. There are vegetarian sources of rennet, but unless you are buying the cheese and reading the labels yourself, it’s almost impossible to know for sure whether the rennet used came from baby cows or from vegetarian sources — especially while dining out. Most cheeses found in stores and restaurants, however, are made with calf rennet. I will discuss calf rennet in more detail below.
Cheese is addictive
Cheese, like all dairy products, is highly addictive because of a protein called casein. Casein makes up the bulk of the solid part of cheese. When we eat or drink dairy products the casein gets turned into casomorphins. Sounds familiar, right? That’s because it actually affects us like a low dose of morphine. We are literally cheese addicts without even knowing it.
In nature, casein is quite useful and is even beneficial. It creates a strong bond between child and mother. It’s good that casein is addictive because it encourages calves to continue suckling so that they will grow into big, strong adult cows. Once cows are old enough, they lose the ability and the inclination to drink milk.
If cows can figure it out, why can’t humans? Aren’t you too old to still be breastfeeding? It’s time to wean yourself off the cow teat, friend.
Cheese is unhealthy
Milk is made up of three basic parts: whey, casein and fat.
- Whey is basically milk plasma — or more simply — what would be left if we take all the fat out of milk.
- Casein makes up to 80% of the protein in milk and is very addicting.
- We all know what fat is, but it’s role in aiding the development of a child is vital because it helps babies grow big and strong.
All of these things are very healthy to consume — if you are a growing calf. However, humans are not growing calves and because of this we are affected by many illnesses because of our consumption of dairy:
All dairy products (especially cheese, as it has much higher concentrations of the harmful components of dairy products) have been linked to many common diseases such as obesity, heart disease, brucellosis, asthma, crohn’s disease osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and many autoimmune diseases that include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Especially in children, dairy has links to attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. Dairy is also linked to illnesses such as acne, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, ear infections and colic.
Casein in particular (a large chunk of what cheese is made of) as well as the fat content of milk and cheese are clearly linked to cancers such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Don’t think for a moment that just because you’re meat-free means you’ve got a free pass. Yes, meat plays a big role in the development of many of the above mentioned diseases, however dairy does as well. By eliminating all animal products from our diet, you will greatly diminish your chance of ever being diagnosed with one or more of these diseases. I’m not saying it’s a sure-fire way to never become ill, but it’s a heck of a lot more effective than living in denial.
Cheese is gross
Did you know that it takes ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese? Cheese is the concentrated form of milk. Cheese is basically aged milk that has had its plasma (whey) removed, and all that is left is cancer causing casein and artery clogging fat.
Most cheeses are made with rennet, which is used as a coagulant to turn milk into cheese. As I mentioned above, calf rennet is a by-product of the veal industry. The most effective calf rennet is taken from the fourth stomach compartment of young, unweaned veal calves. It is possible to use rennet from older calves, however the rennet gotten from these calves isn’t nearly as effective in coagulating milk as the rennet from very young calves who are still nursing (or at least would be nursing if we weren’t stealing their milk from them). Modern methods of cheese-making often involve using freeze-dried calf stomachs.
Cheese is filled with all of the antibiotics, pesticides, hormones (including steroids), feces, pus and blood present in milk — except in cheese these disgusting and harmful things are increased tenfold.
For more information on why dairy products are bad, please read Torture and Infanticide: Why Dairy is Bad.
For more information of the history of cheese and how cheese is made, please read The Strange History of Cheese.
How to quit cheese for good:
Just like in AA, you have to take it one day at a time — and often one meal at a time. If you are a die-hard gourmet cheese lover like I was, this definitely will not be a picnic for you, but I promise that once you let cheese stop clouding your judgement, you will feel better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
I’ve found that the best way to quit cheese isn’t to go cold tofurky, but to instead slowly ease into it with baby steps. The best way to do baby steps with cheese is to slowly start trying out cheese alternatives. This way, you never feel like you’re giving anything up.
It is my policy to always be completely honest with you, so from one gourmet cheese lover to another: vegan cheeses are not as delicious as real cheese. However, they are still very tasty and are constantly being improved upon as interest and demand for them grows. They are excellent cruelty-free alternatives (many are able to melt and shred) and over time you will find that you don’t miss real cheese nearly as much as you thought you would. Some of them come pretty darn close to tasting just like the real thing. Make sure you try many different kinds of cheeses from many different brands until you find one that you like. No two brands are alike.
A vegan diet is about exploring foods that you never would have thought of trying if you had stayed an animal product consumer. It forces you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to find creative ways to make literally anything vegan. I am confident that you will be cheese-free, and in doing so you will see your relationship with animals flourish as you grow to understand them more and more each day, and learn about how you can make your life less about what they can do for us, and more about what we can do for them.
Also, don’t forget to read my post about The 1 Reason Your Vegan Diet Will Fail Every Time.