Are you (or were you) addicted to cheese? Does giving up cheese scare the pants off of you? Sure, vegan food is delicious, but there is no way, no how that you could give up cheese. Right?
If this sounds like you, I can relate. My addiction to cheese was real, and eliminating it from my diet was the last thing I wanted to do, ever.
Cheese was my favourite. I loved parmesan cheese on pretty much everything, loads of mozzarella on pizza and pasta, cheddar on tacos and burritos, ricotta in lasagna, feta directly from the container into my mouth… I loved cheese. Couldn’t get enough of it. I’d say in an average month, I spent over $20 on cheese.
And then I switched to a vegan diet and cheese was no longer a part of my daily life.
It was hard. So, so incredibly hard. I was so addicted to the stuff that it was all I could think about. At every meal, I though “this could use some cheese” and “this is good, but it would be better with cheese”. After about a week into my new diet, I seriously contemplated being vegetarian instead, just so I could get my daily dose of cheese again.
But I persevered. I kept going. Because of all the things that are bad for you, cheese (dairy) is one of the absolute worst. Plus, the animals! Those poor animals. After watching a few documentaries by that point, I still couldn’t get the images of suffering cows out of my head. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go back to cheese.
I remember getting on my computer and looking for a solution. Some support. Someone who would comfort me and tell me that everything was going to be okay.
While I didn’t find exactly that, what I did find was that I was not alone. Apparently, giving up cheese is the most common issue for new vegans (and is the main reason why many people won’t actually switch to a vegan diet at all). I stumbled upon one blog post: I couldn’t give up cheese, so I gave up animal cruelty instead. And it changed my life. I thought I knew how cruel cows were treated, but I was wrong. This blog post scarred me, but in a good way. I’ve never looked at cheese the same way again.
Not only is cheese bad for you, but it’s cruel. That’s enough for me to walk away from it.
After going through cheese withdrawl for about 2 weeks, I finally started to crave it less and less. To help me with the transition, I started trying the vegan cheeses that were on the market. Some of my favourites:
- Daiya Cheese Shreds (Mozzarella and Cheddar were always in my fridge)
- Daiya Cream Cheese (I often used plain for baking and chive & onion for my bagels)
- Tofutti Cream Cheese (I prefer Daiya, but Tofutti was a great substitute when I couldn’t find Daiya)
- Daiya Cheese Slices (I always bought cheddar and used them to make grilled cheese – my kids loved them, too!)
I also started experimenting with my own, homemade cheese recipes, like this vegan nacho cheese sauce (that I seriously put on just about everything), this vegan ricotta cheese, and this homemade vegan parmesan cheese (I put this on everything, too – you can always find a jar full of this cheese in my fridge!).
I purchased this cookbook, The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook: A Modernist Culinary Approach to Plant-Based, Dairy Free Foods, by Skye Michael Conroy, a few months ago, and have since made Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing, Extra-Sharp White Cheddar, Cream Cheese, Sharp Tofu Cheddar and Pepper Jack Cheese. All were incredible and all will be made again and again!
I’ve learned that vegan cheese can taste just as good (if not better) than the stuff made with animal products. Not only is it often tastier, but it’s much healthier and doesn’t promote any cruelty. I call that a win-win!
So if you’re struggling with giving up cheese, remember – that overwhelming desire to call it quits and just shove a brick of cheese in your mouth – it will pass. If you’re as addicted to cheese as I was, it will be hard, you’ll be cranky, and you’ll think you’re going crazy – but you’re not. You’ll be fine.
If I can give up cheese (and I ate cheese pretty much every single day for years), you can too! And you’ll be better off without it.
I now live my life completely dairy-free, and I no longer have any desire to eat cheese made from cow’s milk. With all of the vegan cheese available on the market, and all of the delicious cheese recipes I can make at home (many of them are super easy!), there’s no need for me to eat cheese ever again.
No more suffering animals, no more putting garbage in my body, and no more being addicted to something that was unhealthy. I’m better off without it, and you will be, too.
Do you have problems giving up cheese? Or, if you’ve already done it, was cheese a big hurdle for you?