Are YOU a Cheese-etarian?

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

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):

Cheese, like all dairy products, keeps the veal industry in business

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.
You should.
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.

Calf stomach

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:

Vegan grilled cheese sandwich

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.

Vegan Hawaiian pizza

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.

20 thoughts on “Are YOU a Cheese-etarian?

  1. I love the fact that you’ve coined a new term here: cheese-etarian is right! It’s uncanny how devout cheese lovers are and how they disregard signs that cheese is not a health food (thought the dairy industry says otherwise). Healthy foods don’t give you cancer and they aren’t made using such odd and cruel procedures. This is what I wish I would have told everyone who said they can’t be vegan because of a cheese addiction: http://www.carenbaginski.com/blog/vegan/addicted-to-cheese-casein-cancer/

  2. Thats the dumbest crap I ever heard. I eat meat and cheese I eat it because it tastes good and I dont care about animal cruelty

  3. Thanks for the link from 43t, these are good reminders, and i find that the little bit of effort needed to look for alternatives has resulted in a much more varied and interesting diet.
    It’s interesting to reflect that the old habit – cheese on almost everything – is not that much different to a similar habit, one which I would roll my eyes at, that of drowning everything in ketchup!

  4. i hate when ppl say their vegan but eat cheese still same with vegetarians iv met so many ppl tell me their a veg but eat meat once in a very grate while ,ugh ppl like that get on my nerves its like their just saying their veg or vegan to be cool or something its so stupid!!

  5. Interesting and thought-provoking article! Thank you!
    Now, I am ‘only’ a vegetarian – and by no means a ‘cheese-atarian’ (I don’t preach what I don’t do , nor do I lie that ‘i don’t really eat cheese’). I am moving towards veganism, and I am okay with doing it in slow steps. I may hit the ‘let’s go now, cold tofu’ point (I became a vegetarian cold tofu), but if not, if it takes months or years, I am okay with it. I think doing something is much better than doing nothing…and reaching the 100% ethical and vegan level slowly but staying there for life is much better than doing it from one day to the next but than falling back in a month or a year or more….

    Anyways, I was curious on your intake on the following. I have a friend who has been a vegan for 10 years or so. Recently she started eating some cheese and eggs – the eggs come from the chicken of her neighbor, and the cheese is made by her neighbor in tiny quantities from his goats. Now, we are talking about happy little chicken and goats who run around in the garden, grass (and whatever they eat) from the organically grown garden, they are not treated with hormones and other shit, they are practically family members, but the guy takes an egg here and there, drinks their milk, and makes some small amount of cheese… Now what do you think of my friend, who is I guess technically not a vegan, since she occasionally eat eggs and cheese from the neighbor’s animals (only from there). She says it is because she knows where it comes from for sure, so it’s ok. Otherwise she is keeping at her vegan diet, ethical choices with shopping etc. How do you feel about this? Do you find it ok? Is it something you would ever do? Is it ethical? Or would you toss her out from the vegan and ethical community?

    1. Hello, Dudette, and thank you for commenting and enjoying my blog!

      I understand what you’re saying about the “cold tofu” thing. It took me years to go vegan, but this was mainly because I never set out to go all the way vegan in the first place. I had always thought that ovo-lacto was enough. Once I learned that it really wasn’t enough, I began making “efforts” to go vegan verrryyyy slowwwly. So slowly that it almost seemed like I wasn’t doing anything at all about it. It wasn’t until one day, after a demo, I met someone who changed my life forever. His name was Bob Linden (of Go Vegan Radio). We talked for over an hour about eggs and dairy and I told him that I was doing it slowly and taking baby steps and he said something to me that I will never forget: “If not you, who? If not now, when?”. It clicked. I was done procrastinating, avoiding, and denying — I was ready. That was the day I went vegan.

      About your friend:

      1. Technically speaking, your friend would not be considered a vegan, but an ovo-lacto vegetarian. However, she is obviously not on the same ethical plane as another ovo-lacto vegetarian who gets their eggs and dairy from less-kind sources.
      2. Ethically, it would seem that this scenario would be perfectly fine. However, when we look closer we notice that it is not as rosy as it may seem. How are the goats producing milk? Were they impregnated? Do they have kids? What are the kids drinking? Are the eggs fertilized / Is there a rooster? Does her neighbor plan on taking care of these animals into their old age or does he just sell them to slaughter once they become too much of a burden? Where did her neighbor get the animals?
      3. The issue here isn’t how nice an animal’s situation is, it’s whether that animal is being exploited. Ultimately, animals do not create milk or eggs for human consumption. The eggs belong to the hens. The milk belongs to the goats. I recommend my post Animal Rights > Animal Welfare, for your reading (https://veganrabbit.com/2012/03/15/animal-rights-animal-welfare/).
      4. We cannot forget that no matter how ethical some animal products may seem, the health implications will always stay the same. Dairy and eggs will always be high in fat, cholesterol, and animal protein. None of these things are good for the human body. It doesn’t matter whether it comes from happy animals or abused animals — dairy and eggs are always unhealthy. There is no way around it.

      Is it something I would ever do? That’s a definite “no“. I care too much about animals and being healthy and alive as long as I can for my loved ones (after all, it’s not just ourselves that are affected by our health, but our friends and family as well). I also have become disgusted by animal products because of what they are: eggs are chicken periods, milk is baby food. I have no interest in putting either in my body. In fact, the smell of eggs repulses me now (all animal products, for that matter) and because I have gone so long without dairy products, my body has reverted back to it’s natural state and will reject any dairy product I may ingest by mistake (it has happened and it’s not pretty). I am an adult human. I have absolutely no need for baby food designed by nature for a baby goat, cow, pig, sheep, tiger, beaver, dog, cat, or mouse. I have absolutely no need for chicken eggs, duck eggs, goose eggs, pigeon eggs, seagull eggs, or dinosaur eggs. Why should I want any of those things when there is plenty of perfectly good, tasty, healthy, and energizing vegan foods out there to explore?

      I would also like to note that there is no need to “toss” anyone out of anything. Your friend is helping animals because she is ovo-lacto. That is a fact and she should be very proud of herself. It is up to her to weigh the above information against her current feelings about her situation with her neighbor and come to a conclusion on what she feels is enough on her own.

  6. I gave up cheese (along with all other milk products and eggs) in 2010 for the animals. Little did I know that doing so would revolutionize my health. Imagine my surprise when I dropped 10 pounds off my tiny, under 5′ tall frame in the span of a year. Who knew? I started feeling better: I was less congested, more energetic, less prone to stomach aches, my skin cleared up, I even found my powers of concentration increased.

    There are so many benefits to being vegan, of course the main one is not contributing to the suffering and death of animals everywhere. However, I wish every meat, dairy, and egg addict could feel as physically and mentally clear as I do for just a single day. If they could, the whole world would be vegan in a heartbeat.

    1. YES! I went through this transformation as well. It’s amazing how we can live our lives for so many years eating and doing things to our body that are harming us, but we ignore the signs of harm because they have become so normal to us (acne, congestion, lethargy, stomach aches, weight gain, frequent colds). Instead we attribute those things to things less in our control like hormones, food allergy, weather, stress, or simply getting up on the wrong side of bed (because who really likes to put the blame on themselves, right?). When I went from being a meat eater to being a lacto-vegetarian I noticed somewhat of a change. But when I went from being a lacto-vegetarian to being vegan it was like I had been given a brand new body. It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t easy at first (I was very physically addicted to cheese — casein), but it was well worth it. Other people go on fasts and cleanses to try to detox their body — vegans don’t have to. Our diet is always cleansing our bodies and helping us run better. Kimberly, I totally agree that if people could wake up one day with a body that has even been vegan for only one month they would hardly be able to believe that they could feel and look this good — that it is even possible. I like to call it instant karma 🙂

  7. I have never liked cheese, even when I consumed dairy. I was the weirdo who always asked for pizza with out cheese XD. Funny thing is, anytime I order something as ask for certain ingredients to be left off, they always seem to forget to remove the cheese. I could order a salad with no lettuce and cheese; the lettuce will be left off, but the cheese will still make it on. And I don’t like any kind of cheese. Soy cheese is just foul. Shame because many vegan premade pizzas often contain soy cheeze. I have heard of nut cheeses that I am curious to try. Funny though because every time I go to a party or a get together, everyone seems to scramble to find a cheese replacement for me for the crackers. And I’m honestly fine because I can survive the party with out having something to put on a cracker XD. (Though hummus is always awesome if they happen to have it.)

  8. Love this article! But, Go Veggie cheese contains casein. Whenever I’ve bought it I thought I was making the right choice. Until I looked at the ingredients and sure enough casein was listed. I would like to know what other choices there are for NO casein in any vegan cheese.

    1. That’s right. Unfortunately there are quite a few products claiming to be vegan on their labels that actually aren’t vegan, because to them money is more important than honesty and integrity. This is why I always recommend to read labels, even if the packaging says “vegan” on it. The good news is once you get your regular products memorized you won’t have to bother with reading labels so much, but it’s still good to read the labels of your regulars periodically to make sure they haven’t started secretly slipping in animal ingredients. A good place to start looking for vegan products are:

      http://www.vegproductsguide.com

      http://veganproductguide.com

      And although this list seems daunting, I think it’s still important to include:

      http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/animal-ingredients-list.aspx

      I’d also like to add that I never endorsed Go Veggie as a vegan brand, because I know them not to be.

  9. Dear VR it’s so frustrating and almost impossible to read this on the current background. It’s definitely taking away from the message when you can’t easily read the words. Otherwise, thank you for this info.

  10. I really am trying to go vegan but I’m stuck so hard on cheese 😒. Thank you so much for this article. It was an eye opener and very helpful.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s