Full Disclaimer right now. We are completely serious when we say that cheese is addictive. This isn’t some tongue-in-cheek, with an exaggerated way to discuss wanting to eliminate something that’s bad for us and the environment. It literally contains compounds that studies have found to be addictive. Yes, that’s why it’s so hard to turn your back on it.
What compounds are those, you ask? Specifically, casein. The protein found in milk and cheese, casein breaks down during digestion and releases morphine-like substances called casomorphins. These substances have been found to activate the reward centers of the brain and create an addictive response on par with heroin. Heroin! No wonder we have such a hard time avoiding the stuff! Ever talk to someone who says, “I’d totally be vegan, I just could never give up cheese?” They’re in the throes of cheese addiction and that’s not easy to beat.
It isn’t impossible, however. Now, more than ever, there are alternatives to the gooey stuff that tastes great, don’t require massive resources to produce, don’t rely on the factory farming system to create and don’t help to create public health catastrophes. We can do this together, people! Let’s break cheese addiction one step at a time!
1. Think about what’s in it
Pus, you guys. Pus is in it.
2. Go cold Tofurkey
Eradicating it from our diet is the only way that we can stop the vicious cycle of craving and consumption that its addictive properties prompt in the brain.
3. Try out an alternative
When trying to eradicate something from your diet, especially if you’ve been used to putting it on practically everything, it can be an overwhelming task. Thankfully, commercial, dairy free cheeses have come a long way and work as a good transitional food for when you’re trying to break the habit. Seasoned plant-based eaters also enjoy them too!
4. “I can’t live without cheese.”
Yes, you can. You do not breathe it and it isn’t water, ergo, it is not life sustaining. This stuff isn’t some magical substance! It’s an item procured from a cow. Big whoop.
5. Whip up batches of your own!
Once you’ve tried what the marketplace has to offer, you’ll be pleased to know that you can make a lot of awesome cheese alternatives yourself!
6. Leave the cheese off of foods that you normally “had” to have it on.
This is the honest truth, from friend to friend here, you cannot taste the cheese on that burrito. Seriously, you can’t. Between the refried beans, sauce, onions, jalapeños and avocado that you have going on up in there, the cheese is serving a psychological (and not so desirable physiological) purpose more than a flavor one. Same goes for that sub sandwich.
On the other side, you can absolutely taste cheese on things like pizza, enchiladas and quesadillas. But, do you need to? Give these things a spin sans swiss (or queso or whatever it normally comes with) and prepare to be surprised. The flavors of these items shine through beautifully without a gelatinous layer of goo.
7. Create creaminess with more healthful ingredients
Avocado, hummus, nut butters and those tasty nut based cheeses you printed recipes out for can all lend the creaminess, richness and texture you crave from cheese without all of the…dairy.
8. Cut off the saturated fat supplier
It might be helpful for you to note that cheese is the largest contributor of saturated fat in the American diet. Lose its number.
9. Think about veal the next time you reach for those nachos
What does veal have to do with cheese? In factory farms (where the vast majority of dairy products purchased by Americans are produced), dairy cows have to be keep perpetually pregnant in order to produce the maximum amount possible. That means baby calves. In many instances, if those baby calves are male, they are sent off to leave in veal crates to live short and painful lives. Veal production is enabled by the rampant dairy addiction we suffer from.
10. Remember how much better a companion you’ll be
As we age, most of us (about 75 percent) lose the ability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and milk products. This causes stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating and flatulence. Holding strong to your efforts to break your cheddar dependence will make you feel a whole lot better (and smell better too.)
11. Fall in love with “nooch!”
Otherwise known as magical fairy dust, nooch (or nutritional yeast if you don’t want to call it what the cool kids do) is an inactive, edible yeast with superfood powers. What are those powers you may ask? Well, a 1/4 serving contains 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and some brands even come fortified with vitamin B12. It also has the power of cheesy, umami goodness when sprinkled on popcorn, baked potatoes, tofu scrambles, chili, burritos or, you know, anything that you used to sprinkle cheese on. You can even make cheese sauces with the stuff! Try it, the two of you will be a match made in heaven.
12. If you hear the demon dairy calling your name, think about why you ditched it to begin with.
It could be your health, the environment, animal welfare or all of the above. Whatever your reason, remember how worth it sticking to your choice will be.
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Lead Image Credit: Rebecca Weller