Have you ever said, “I would love to go vegan but I just can’t give up pizza, cheese or ice cream?”
If you have, I totally get where you’re coming from. I was a vegetarian for about ten years simply because try as I might, I didn’t know how to shake the dairy demon and live without takeout pizza, ice cream, grilled cheese, mac n’ cheese, chocolate – you name it.
There’s a reason why dairy, in particular cheese, tastes so good, why we crave it. It truly is addictive. According to this LA Times article which likens cheese to actual crack, “Cheese happens to be especially addictive because of an ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases opiates called casomorphins.”
What this means is, when you eat a fatty, salty cheese laden pizza for example, the chemicals spark off feeling (although to a lesser extent) similar to morphine. When you think about this, it makes sense. Cow’s milk is for baby cows. Biology has made cow’s milk addictive because it’s meant to help a calf grow strong and healthy, from about 60 pounds at birth to more than 500 pounds when weaned at eight to nine months.
On top of that, we are bombarded with propaganda from the dairy industry and the US government claiming milk is good for us. We are spoon fed the lie that we need cow’s milk to get calcium, grow strong bones, and to get vitamin D. The truth is we can get all of these things from plants and sunshine.
That said, breaking your cheese/dairy addiction can be done. I am living proof. Read on to learn how to shake this succubus out of your life.
1. Get Educated. Dairy is a truly disgusting industry. All those images you see on tv and in the movies of happy cows on farms, grazing on green grass with their calves next to them, living out happy lives is a bunch of bull****, no pun intended. In actuality, calves are ripped from their mothers a few days after birth. The baby girls are normally destined to become dairy cows, living the same fate as their mothers, forcibly impregnated over and over and drained of their milk before they are killed around age four. The baby boys don’t get off easy either. They will be kept in cages and fattened up before they end up on someone’s plate as veal, killed even though they are only a few months old. Knowing the horrors of the dairy industry is a huge catalyst to help you give up the stuff.
2. Shop for Substitutes. There are so many vegan dairy substitutes these days, there is no reason to buy traditional ones. From soy, flax, pea protein and cashew milk – the list goes on, there’s a formula and a brand to suit your taste buds. There’s also soy and coconut milk creamers for your coffee, vegan Greek style yogurt and plant-based cheese that can even please the palate of the unsuspecting omnivore. My favs are Good Karma flax milk and old school Silk soy milk (I buy the organic, non-GMO kind). For butter, I use Earth Balance buttery spread and when I’m craving cheese (which is really infrequent now that I’ve given up the cruelty-laden stuff) I use the Daiya brand sparingly. Don’t give up if you try a product you don’t like; sample a few before you find the one that hits the spot. And if you’re really adventurous, make your own vegan nut milk, cheese and even plant-based mayonnaise!
3. Dust yourself off and try again. So you’ve gone a few days or even months without dairy and then out of the blue you accidentally (or purposefully) eat some cheese or candy with dairy in it. It happens to the best of us. A few months ago, while on a work trip I ended up eating some pasta at a hotel buffet before realizing there was cheese inside. Once, after specifically telling a take out restaurant to hold the feta, I dug into my gyro only to find it scattered inside. Not to mention the countless times I tried and failed to transition to vegan from vegetarian because I was craving a Dominos pizza or some Dairy Queen. We’re human, we all make mistakes or have accidents. It doesn’t do anyone any good to beat yourself up about it. Just remind yourself of the reasons you have gone vegan in the first place (animal welfare, the environment and your health) and continue on your journey afresh, with a new resolve to cause as little harm as possible.
Good luck 🙂