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You CAN Kick The Cheese Habit. Here’s How.

You CAN Kick The Cheese Habit. Here’s How.

“Cheese consumption in the U.S. rose from 15 pounds per person per year in 1975 to more than 30 pounds in 1999. And you can thank the federal government. The USDA Report to Congress on the Dairy Promotion Programs for the year 2000 described how the government and industry worked with fast-food chains to make sure that cheese was prominently displayed in menu items.”

~ Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine


“But I could never give up cheese…”

Have you ever found yourself speaking these words, or just thinking them inside your own mind? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, this belief is so widespread that vegan advocates have devoted pages and pages of writing to addressing this one simple statement.

There’s a reason for this, and it’s much simpler than most people would probably imagine.

Cheese is addictive.

Yes, you heard that right. I’m not saying that cheese has the power of cocaine or heroin, or even cigarettes. But it is, nevertheless, habit-forming in a physical sense. Just ask the experts at the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine:

“In PCRM’s research studies, when we take people off meat, dairy products, and other unhealthy fare, we often find that the desire for cheese, in particular, lingers on much more strongly than for other foods. While they might like ice cream or yogurt, they describe their feelings for cheese as a deep-seated craving.”

The PCRM paper goes on to explain how, in 1981, researchers discovered that animal milk actually contains morphine, a highly addictive opioid substance with pain-reducing qualities. As any breastfeeding mother could easily confirm, the morphine in mother’s milk serves to calm a nursing baby and strengthen the mother-infant bond, ensuring the child’s desire to nurse and thereby obtain the necessary nutrition.

The article goes on:

“But that was only the beginning, as other researchers soon found. Cow’s milk—or the milk of any other species, for that matter—contains a protein called casein that breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins. A cup of cow’s milk contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese…” (emphasis mine)

But that’s not all. It turns out that the addictive properties of cheese go even further than the presence of casomorphins:

“Cheese holds other drug-like compounds as well. It contains an amphetamine-like chemical called phenylethylamine, or PEA, which is also found in chocolate and sausage. And there are many hormones and other compounds in cheese and other dairy products whose functions are not yet understood.*”

Add to this the fact that the dairy industry has been working in an underhanded way to push this high-fat, high-sodium product onto an unsuspecting population, it’s no wonder our society has a cheese problem. Yes, since the year 2000, food chains such as Wendy’s, Pizza Hut and Subway have been the public faces for this government-sanctioned program to “trigger the cheese craving” in you and your children, and thereby sell millions more pounds of cheese.

The funny thing is, when you think about what cheese actually is, it’s really not particularly appetizing:

• Milk pumped from the mammary glands of another species
• Inoculated with the same bacteria that causes human body odors
• Curdled with enzymes from the stomachs of young calves after they have been killed for veal.

Yes, anyone who thinks veal is an affront to the conscience of humanity really ought to look very closely at wherever cheese appears in his or her diet.

But what is one supposed to do during that three-week withdrawal from a chemical that not only calms and sedates, but also has pain-reducing qualities? There’s a simple solution: Learn everything you can about why cheese doesn’t belong on our plates, and before you know it, you’ll be repulsed by the very idea… Not to mention the smell.

In the meantime, there are a myriad of plant-based cheeses on the market, and the number is only growing. And for those with a little culinary flair, there are a number of recipes that can be made at home. From soft, spreadable cheeses to those that melt on a pizza or a grilled sandwich, there’s a vegan cheese for every purpose. Google it if you don’t believe me! (And stay tuned for more information on alternatives to animal-based cheeses.)


* An important note: The hormones in milk are not limited to those added by the industry in an attempt to expand production. Breast milk contains naturally occurring hormones that assist in the development of a nursing infant of the species for which the milk is intended. ‘Hormone-free’ milk is only free from added hormones, not hormones that occur naturally.

Gentle World is a non-profit educational organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. Visit for more information.

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Angel Flinn

Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle World – a non-profit educational organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making the transition.


+ add your own
4:29AM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Sian R stated:

"I'd rather eat cheese than carrots."

That is fine, as I imagine that some do not like the taste of carrots while others won't touch the noble Brussels sprout. The fact that carrots, (like potatoes and other root veggies) come from under the soil seems not to appeal to you. These are however, very flavourful and delicious and most people know how to clean veggies properly before cooking them. You could also add different types of cheese on these to tempt you to eat them.

Jains often refuse to eat root veggies as they don't believe in harming insects by pulling up the roots. Somehow, I could not get used to not eating carrots and other root veggies.

My previous comment should have read 'some vegans' (plural) and not vegan (singular).

4:16AM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Fascinating about so-called alleged addiction centres, but beer, wine and alcohol are legal and socially acceptable as long as one drinks responsibly. However, even though it is legal, it can be truly addictive and there are all sorts of addiction centres for alcohol abuse around the world. You will never see cheese addiction centres and people are not losing friends, family, spouses and other relationships due to some vegan attempting to vilify and then also labelling the delicious food known as cheese as a bogus 'addiction.'

'The Demon Cheese', addictive? It is simply a food, not an addiction.

4:15AM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Cheese is a flavourful and an interesting food with a long history.

Syd H had mentioned: "Coffee is addictive too, but as with cheese, it's legal & socially acceptable, so we don't see addiction centers for that...They do have treatment centers often called Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. Oh, and emergency rooms for the heart attacks & bypass operations."

Interesting, Syd H. So, are these people only eating cheese to become overweight or is it a combination of other foods such as too many French Fries, deep fried zucchini and other foods combined without following a well-balanced diet, not to mention too many HFCS beverages such as Coke? Eat cheese in moderation as with other foods such as pop corn, and then there will be no weight problem. Exercise helps as well, but most people do not only consume cheese as their entire diet.

4:39AM PDT on Jul 24, 2014

Maybe for some, they give up all dairy, but decide to have a really good, artisinal cheese now and then. It's still a shift toward better health and awareness, and less of a drain on the environment. I think that is something more feasible for most people, and something that should be applauded.

4:33AM PDT on Jul 24, 2014

As always, lots of silly, irate, nonsensical and arrogant comments posted after a story related to veganism. The strong reaction always impresses me. I just want to say, while I think some of the information here is interesting and factual, some of it is just silly.

I haven't eaten cheese for 18 years, and not a year goes by that I don't day dream about it now and then. Of course I do, I ate it all through my childhood, have lovely memories connected to it, loved the taste and the gourmet aspect and continue to be surrounded by it. Maybe if I ate it now, I would be disappointed, as is usually the case. Memories always taste delicious though, and it still smells good to me. I haven't eaten meat in 22 years, and still think the smell of bacon is wonderful. Does that make me a bad vegetarian? No, it makes me human.

I fully commiserate with people who feel they cannot give up cheese or meat. It's a huge shift in diet, and something that always somehow becomes an issue with family, friends or social things. The trick is not giving up, but phasing things out. Just cut back, or make a goal of not eating something for a month. I gave up cheese for a year as a resolution, and that did the trick for me. With great excitement, I had a slice of pizza after the year was up. I was repelled by the saltiness of the cheese, and then decided i just didn't want it anymore. But that's me. Maybe for some, they give up all dairy, but decide to have a really good, artisinal cheese now and th

12:20AM PDT on May 19, 2014

the arrogance factor here is not surprising from Vega, the brightest constellation in the heavens. What alternative do subsistence peoples have for nutrition in off-season gardening and harvesting where they may have goats, sheep, buffalo, etc. that they can milk, then being nourished by all the various dairy products available. Never mind the fibre for spinning into threads & yarns to make fabrics.

Also exploiting the buffalo for ploughing their rice paddies and fields for food production. What heathens, imagine using such a natural solar conversion of sunshine on grass, nourishing ruminant's who in turn while in stocks & chains yield their white secretions to be converted into nourishment. Sad state of affairs when the milk may be safer to drink than a polluted water source. I wonder how many water wells the vega are drilling for these poor folk.

Consider the rugged hilly stony land these ruminants graze to sustain themselves. Land totally unsuitable for cropping or using mechanized farm equipment since vega philosophy is against using cartage animals, never mind their by-products. What a sacrilege, vile cannibals specimens that have survived for centuries in some of the most adverse terrain. Never mind taking the life of these animals to eat their roasted flesh, and tan their hides for footwear, hardy clothing and sleeping robes.

What cheesey sleazey folk. We need vega missionaries to convert the Masai for a start.

8:14AM PDT on May 17, 2014

Thanks for sharing !! :)

4:03AM PDT on May 16, 2014

I'd rather eat cheese than carrots.

After all, doesn't the latter grow in DIRT, and isn't it crawled all over and urinated and defecated on by at least 50 different species of beetle and creepy-crawly - to say nothing of all those nasty (and potentially fatal) soil organisms like tetanus, etc?

10:31PM PDT on May 15, 2014

It took my body about 3 weeks to stop craving cheese. I feel so much better not eating it :)

10:00PM PDT on May 15, 2014

Dale, I think it's time to have a "whine and cheese parting"

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