Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top Tip Tuesday - Think You Can't Live Without Cheese???

I really did laugh out loud when I saw the article "I can't live without cheese" posted on Facebook recently, because that's always the first thing people say to me when they find out that we're vegan. And I laugh because I had said it myself many times. And then I had a reality check.

I'm sure that smokers say "I could never live without cigarettes" and alcoholics say "I could never live without another drink." That doesn't mean of course, that they should continue consuming those things or that they are healthy for them in any way; it just means that they're being controlled by an addiction. And there's no way that I was letting cheese have that much power in my life. After all, the basic human needs, contrary to popular belief, are not air, water, shelter and cheese.

Giving up cheese, for me, took a major shift in my outlook. Instead of looking at cheese as something that came in a package, I began to investigate where it came from, how it was made and everything that went into putting it on my plate. And it was pretty shocking to learn the truth. After all, the dairy industry had been spending millions to convince me otherwise all my life.

First of all, cheese is made from milk. Duh. That didn't phase me at first, until it clicked with me that milk isn't something that comes out of a carton and goes on my cereal. Cow's milk is food for baby cows. As the authors of Skinny Bitch put it so very well . . .

"Cows’ milk, by design, grows a 90-pound calf into a 2,000-pound cow over the course of 2 years. It allows calves to double their birth weight in forty-seven days and leaves their four stomachs feeling full."

Well, I don't have four stomachs, and nothing about weighing 2,000 pounds sounds remotely appealing. And as a nursing mom at the time, the idea of drinking the breast milk of another species just started to gross me out. Most moms I knew would balk at the idea of their baby drinking the breast milk of another human - yet we didn't hesitate to give them breast milk from a cow. Weird, right?

But since we're not cows and we can't digest cow's milk (we lose the enzyme needed to digest human milk very early on in life), something called rennet is added to cheese. Have fun Googling that one. Here's what Wikipedia had to say about it:

"Natural calf rennet is extracted from the inner mucosa of the fourth stomach chamber (the abomasum) of young, unweaned calves. These stomachs are a by-product of veal production. Dried and cleaned stomachs of young calves are sliced into small pieces and then put into saltwater whey, together with some vinegar or wine to lower the pH of the solution. Deep-frozen stomachs are milled and put into an enzyme-extracting solution. The crude rennet extract is then activated by adding acid." 
Ewwww! Nothing about that sounds good to me. Add in some hidden camera footage from a dairy farm and the knowledge that dairy cows have their calves taken away and sent for slaughter (as veal), and it's actually quite easy to live without cheese.
Still struggling to give cheese the boot? The GHS "top tip" for the week are these five great tips for (pardon the pun) weaning.


  1. While everyone can use frugal cooking tips, no one needs to cut back on food costs more than a mom. When you have kids to feed, it becomes even more important that you provide them with cheap, nutritious food. Gone are the days when ramen noodles could sustain you for months . . . now you need healthy food on a tight budget!

    Healthy cooking tips

  2. Have you been inside my mind. I am struggling with giving up cheese but reading about the grossness of some foods really helps me eliminate it. I was reading the Skinny Bitch again last night! Lol

  3. One of the most difficult things to give up for me was dairy (cheese). So many things had changed because of it though. No more heavy sinus problems, digestive problems or breakouts in my skin. I still have cravings for it but can no longer bring myself to eat it, plus I have now found a great many alternatives that satisfy my want for cheese. Ask Jessica about her Non-Dairy Cheese Log. You will realize real quick after eating this special treat, you no longer need dairy.

  4. I was one of those people who said I would never live without cheese or ice cream. Now 3 years later, I still am! I don't miss it either!

  5. I'm starting a shift to veganism because I was lucky enough to become lactose-intolerant (and I don't mean that sarcastically!) After years of not eating cheese, the texture and taste really turns me off, plus learning about rennet compounded that further. If you stop eating something long enough you won't crave it anymore. Same works for refined sugar! So I do believe that once you get over the hump, it's easy to live without cheese.

  6. Thanks for sharing all your experiences!

    LOL at Carol. Am I reading your mind? I have to tell you that cheese was the last thing that I gave up completely . . . but as Earth Mama said, I really don't miss it a bit. Now if I could only say goodbye to sugar that permanently. Erin, you'll have to share your secrets.

    Oh, and Jim, there will be a cashew cheese log with your name on it later this week. :D

  7. Great information about where cheese really comes from.

  8. I've had the pleasure of that "cheese" log to which Jim is referring - OMG it's amazing!

  9. Thank you for the reminders, Jessica!