Today’s post is very close to my heart because I fucking loved cheese, and I read many posts over the years on how to give up cheese, but none of them resonated with me.
I don’t think I’m alone in saying that giving up cheese was EASILY the hardest thing about becoming vegan. Since becoming vegetarian in my teens, cheese formed an embarrassingly large part of my diet, and I was consuming gallons of the stuff.
In sandwiches, on pasta, melted in the oven and then eaten with crusty bread (this one is synonymous with when I was feeling depressed, and probably exacerbated the problem).
I’m not ashamed to say that just writing about cheese is making my mouth water BUT weirdly, I don’t actually want any.
No even a little bit.
Although the sooner really good vegan cheese alternatives hit Sainsbury’s the better. And by really good cheese alternatives,
I mean not ones that just suffice.
I mean really, really good.
Because I was a cheese connoisseur. I loved really stinky blue cheese, lovely silky camembert – the stronger the better. I think it’s important that those that are hindered from switching a vegan diet don’t think that us vegans hate cheese.
Many of us don’t.
And yet I don’t eat it.
And weirdly, I don’t miss it. Promise.
First let us start by discussing why the hell we would ever give up cheese, the nectar of the gods.
Cheese: the ugly truth
- In order for cows to produce milk, they must have given birth to a calf. We then separate the calf from its mother, which is cruel. Farmers tell us that the cows don’t care, but they call for their babies for days.
- The female calves are cycled back into the cycle of being artificially impregnated and having their calf removed until they’re too broken to do so, at which point they’re slaughtered, usually around the age of 6. They would naturally live 20 years. According to the British Cattle Veterinary Association, around 150,000 pregnant cows are slaughtered every year. THat is fucking vile. 40,00 of those cows are so far along in their pregnancy that the calves are capable of independent life.
- The male cows are either shot a few hours after birth or are sent off to the continent to become veal. They kept in deplorable conditions before, during and after transport.
- Dairy cows produce greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.
- The massive amounts of manure, if mishandled, ends up polluting local waterways.
- Cows need space – even those dairy cows in intensive farming systems require feed, which requires space to grow. In order to get that land, we have to sacrifice rainforests, wetlands, and prairies. Bitch all you want about palm oil, but animal agriculture is behind 91% of deforestation.
- Sure, it’s got calcium in it, but it also has a high amount of saturated fat
- High in sodium.
- High in hormones (I mean, this is something that’s only purpose is to turn a little calf into a massive cow) that could affect the endocrine system and increase the risk of cancer.
I’m not putting anything about pus or bone density here, because there are so many opposing views. I’d rather stick to facts because spouting opinions doesn’t really help anyone. Cheese does contain calcium and B12 BUT no dietician is going to prescribe cheese because it’s good for you. I’m also not putting anything about how addictive it is, because addiction is such a complex issue.
This is difficult for me a) because I want everyone to leave cows alone and b) I’m a bit of a drama queen and you get no more dramatic than a million pus cells in a teaspoon of milk.
How to give up cheese
Because that’s why we’re here, not to be grossed out by pus. So here are my top tips:
- Avoid vegan cheese when you first give up cheese. It will taste like feet and sick. It’s taken me a good year to first enjoy liking vegan cheese, and even then it’s only a select few (Violife slices)
- Concentrate on the worst things about cheese. Think about how parmesan smells of vomit (because the enzymes are basically the same), how camembert smells of wee (well, ammonia), and how brie smells like feet. It really does put one off.
- Don’t try to replicate it. I avoided sandwiches for so long when I first went vegan because I was so used to always putting cheese in them(check out these sandwich ideas for inspo) that I forgot that cheese is not a required sandwich filling. I relied so heavily on it that being vegetarian was actually more restrictive than being vegan because I was stuck in a cheesy haze.
- Ignore haters. People are very sniffy about vegans slamming cheese. ‘Cheese is life’ is apparently now a personality trait. Ignore them, and eat your hummus proudly.
- Forgive yourself. You might slip up. I did, when babysitting my brother and left alone with my parent’s fridge and pantry full of delicious crackers.
Hopefully, this was helpful. I can’t deny that a little will power may be required, but once you get your facts and motives straight, you’ll be onto a winner.
If any absolutely incredible faux cheeses come up on my radar, I’ll be sure to update this post and let you know. Similarly, if you have any recommendations, please comment below and let me know.
Thanks for reading, have an incredible week. Make yourself a extra specially delicious dinner. You deserve it.