Addicted to Cheese? Here’s Why

Ever felt like you couldn’t give up cheese?  Ever think it might actually be a drug? The surprising news is that as far back as the 1980′s researchers have known that cheese contains trace amounts of morphine. Seriously.

In 1981, Eli Hazum and his colleagues at Wellcome Research Laboratories reported traces of the chemical morphine, a highly addictive opiate. It turns out that morphine is found in cow milk and human, purportedly to ensure  offspring will bond very strongly with their mothers and get all the nutrients they need to grow.

Researchers also discovered the protein casein, which breaks into casomorphins when it is digested and also produces opiate effects. In cheese, casein is concentrated, and so is the level of casomorphins, so the pleasurable effect is greater. Neal Barnard, MD said, “Since cheese is processed to express out all the liquid, it’s an incredibly concentrated source of casomorphins—you might call it dairy crack.” (Source:

One research paper states, “Casomorphins are peptides produced from the breakdown of CN and possess opioid activity. The term opioid refers to morphine-like effects which include signs of sedation, tolerance, sleep induction, and depression.” (Source: University of Illinois Extension)

And another research study conducted in Russia found that a type of casomorphin found in cow milk might impact human infant development negatively, specifically in a manner resembling autism.

To make matters worse, cheese also contains saturated fat and cholesterol, which contribute to heart disease. One ounce of cheese can contain a large amount of saturated fat (check out this Fat Content of Cheese Chart).

A recent New York Times article states Americans now consume about 33 pounds of cheese each year. Reducing cheese and saturated fat consumption is something anyone can do to prevent heart disease, since “Unhealthy diets and lack of exercise may kill about 300,000 to 500,000 Americans each year.” (Source:

But as many know, cutting back on cheese can be challenging because of the good feelings – the opiate effects of casomorphins – it produces.

Chef Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a former self-described cheese addict said, “You need to give yourself a couple of months without cheese, some time to let your taste buds catch up with your ethics. It might sound like deprivation at first, but your body will adjust.”

“I started loving Brussels sprouts and butternut squash,” Moskowitz said. “I could taste the subtle difference between a raw and a toasted pumpkin seed. Once you figure out that you don’t have to cover everything in cheese, you start to become almost like a supertaster.” (Source: VegetarianTimes)

Hold the cheese please? What do you think? Share in the comment stream below.

Image Credit: Dorina Andress

Related Links:
Dairy-free Cheese
11 Reasons to Stop Eating Dairy
5 Milk Alternatives


Sue H
Sue H4 months ago

I'm wondering who might be "addicted" to cheese?? I enjoy a good slice every so often but does that make me "addicted"?

Pat P
Pat Pabout a year ago

Although I am not a vegan but love cheese, I have discovered some delicious vegan brands/varieties. In the past, most were fairly tasteless, but, now, you can find some brands and certain varieties that are very good substitutes, much better than many choices of regular cheese. It just takes a little research, experimentation and willingness not to stereotype vegans and their food choices. Cheese is not the only food preferences, vegans are smart and ethical about.

I still try not to stuff my face, like I use to (I went through a LOT of cheese), but I can have some good grill cheeses and in-between meal snacks, without feeling deprived--and can keep my cholesterol and fat calories more reasonable, while not feeling so vulnerable for major health issues or so bad for the animals harmed in the process.

At this point, I really don't care much about what the scientific or psychological explanation for the intense desire (gluttony) for cheese that I have had for many years--I have found a way to deal with this craving, satisfactorily, by eating somewhat less but still very good alternate cheeses, produced by vegan companies.

Kelly S
Past Member about a year ago

I eat vegan

Roberto M
Roberto MARINI1 years ago


lynda l
lynda leigh2 years ago

Not giving up my cheese.....sorry

Leanne B.
Leanne B4 years ago

Thank you.

Jennifer M.
Jennifer M4 years ago

I like cheese. A lot.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

I've grown bored and tired of flagging insulting and out of control comments from disrespectful and rude members. It does little good as it seems to just increase Customer Support's work load so much, everybody ends up with comments deleted. I think it accomplishes more to leave them "in place" so everyone can see how ridiculous some extremists are.

There is nothing in cheese or any other "non vegan" food product that is actually "addicting". We merely like or even love the taste so much, we think we need more. There IS known scientific proof that some sugary or salty products "trick" the brain and make us feel "satisfied" and release pleasurable sensations (endorphins) but they wear off very quickly, so we consume more of those products to get that pleasure back. Ice cream, chocolate and potato chips are such products. Cheese is not "addicting" in the sense that we go thru physical "withdrawal". If it contains a minute/miniscule amount of morphine, so do poppy seed muffins (poppy seeds contain cocaine).

Dale O.

Robyn H fantasizes with a comment right out an old dog eared copy of the DSM:

"Dale I is so very defensive...I wonder what's going on in his subconscious to make him that way?"

I wouldn't know about that, since I do not see a 'Dale I' in the thread, so I don't know who he is. Of course, the i key and the l key are right beside the o key, so it is likely the missive is directed my way via the way of a typo. O, say can I see?

The only ones appearing defensive are vegans who try mould the world in their own image. Good luck with that, given that out of the entire populace of the world, only three percent happen to be vegan.

Dale O.

Perhaps some are overly defensive because the rest of us are not joining you when it comes to abstaining from dairy products, including the noble cheese in its infinite forms, textures and delicious flavours. Yes, savour the flavour, it certainly beats soy 'cheese' any day of the week. Perhaps some are miffed that when they gave up their own cheese past and still see the rest of us partaking in the forbidden food that they have to make up stories about how the rest of us are in the land of the 'addicted' or the 'selfish'.