I'd like to talk about cheese.
I love cheese.
My mouth loves cheese.
My body hates cheese.
My conscience hates cheese.
Cheese makes my life miserable! I love it and I hate it.
It is the only issue I have with going completely vegan. I can't find a way around it.
Even though I know it's terrible for my health, my biggest concern is supporting the dairy and veal industries.
So then I thought, "Hey, why not drop the cow cheese and eat goat cheese! At least that's not supporting the veal industry right?" I am the world's best rationalizer. I can rationalize my way through just about anything. Once I rationalized Swedish Fish were on my weight loss diet because they're vegan, but that's another story.
So I went to goat cheese for a while. Problem with goat cheese is that it's goopy. I can't make nachos with goat cheese. Bean and goat cheese enchiladas? Forget it.
Next I went to vegan cheese. I still have many bricks left in my freezer I can't bare to touch.
Daiya is about the closest I can come to 'real' cheese. I can put it on nachos and it works as long as I eat them in less than 30 seconds. Pretty tough. Either it sticks to the roof of my mouth because it's so hot, or it's cold and non-cheesey any more. I'm still experimenting.
Does anyone have any tips on how to transition to vegan and work through the cheese withdrawals?
I have sort of the same problem I am having a hard time giving up greek yogurt it is my favorite.I switched to goat cheese instead of feta and its pretty good.but I know what your saying trying to find cheese for nachos and other things.
I believe I have the magic answer (recipe) for you. I completely relate on the cheese thing I LOVE cheese and my husband is a cheese-aholic so the temptation is constantly there for me - but I have learned to comfortably avoid his temptations.
FYI - one of the big reasons, I believe, that cheese is harder to give up than even sugar or chocolate is because cheese (believe it or not) contains a motherlode of opiates (being a concentrated dairy product). Opiates have a way of resetting your internal priorities beyond your conscious control - that's why willpower rarely works - especially with cheese.
I started a vegan RAW food diet a year ago (because I wanted to step up my health even more) and I have come across some absolutely delicious recipes for "cheese" soups, dips, sauces, and toppings. Here is my all-time favorite and it can be made into either a delicious soup or hardened (OK somewhat hardened) cheese. You won't believe how close it comes to the taste of cheddar cheese and I've never come closer to the real thing. It even looks like it and is the color of cheese - it is just not the texture.
I made this recipe in a Vitamix (which is a high powered mixer - the blades actually go up to 240 mph. So all I do is throw the ingredients in the blender and in about 30 seconds or less I have a creamy cheddary cheesey soup that is to die for! I can change one ingredient and I can make "cheese" that is sliceable (but not shreddable) - I use it for toppings on crackers, salads, wrappers, tacos, etc. Here is my recipe. Let me know if you have any questions. I have no idea how well this works in a regular blender. Be careful with the hot water in the blender.
Also, this is a raw food recipe so it is highly nutrititious especially if you don't heat it. If you need it warmed, I suggest a dehydrator to keep all the nutrients and enzymes intact. Imagine....a "cheese" actually GOOD for you....this is it!
Best Ever Fake Cheese (Soup or Cheese hunks)
21/4 C. Boiling water
2 tsp. Onion powder
2 Tbsp. Agar (replace w/ 1/3 C. arrowroot starch for cheese sauce/soup)
1 tsp. Paprika
1 C raw almonds or cashews
1 Tbsp. Seasoning (see taco seasoning below)
2 tsp. Celtic sea salt
4 oz. Jar pimentos (or 1/2 red bell pepper)
2 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
3 Tbsp. food yeast flakes
Pour boiling water into blender and add Agar. Process enough to blend. (Be careful--this is boiling hot liquid!) Add almonds or cashews and process until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into a container and refrigerate.
If you want cheese sauce instead of a slicing cheese, substitute 1/3 C. arrowroot starch for the agar.
1 Tbsp. Chili powder
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. Ground cumin
1/4 tsp. Onion powder
1 tsp. Sea salt(optional or to taste)
1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Black pepper( we use a pinch
1/4 tsp. Dried oregano of cayenne )
Mix all ingredients together and store in airtight container.
I have tried freezing it and it seems to freeze OK.
Have fun and let me know how it turns out!
Also, I do highly recommend getting a Vitamix for highly nutritious (and super quick!) soups, toppings, etc! Go to vitamix.com for tons of recipes, videos and loads of information on what all you can do with it. I use mine 2-3 times a day and I couldn't live without it. If you do want to order one, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can tell you how to get the best priced one and save you $25 on shipping. They are well worth the price - even though they can be a bit pricey!!!
They are the best thing ever for a vegan or raw foodist - especially if you want to save a ton of time in the kitchen!
Let me share my experience here, hopefully this can help you. I was born French, raised in France. France has more sorts of cheese than there are days in a year. My father told me a zillion times that if there is no cheese in a meal, you cannot call it a meal, and that whenever he'd had to chose between cheese and dessert, that would always be cheese. I have always loved cheese. Don't ask me if this is genetic or cultural, it's both! Even when I was vegetarian already, I thought I would never be able to become vegan because of cheese. I thought vegans were right, but I thought I could not do it. Still, I have now stopped cheese completly, and I don't have any second thought or any psychological problem because of that.
So, what I mean is that if I did it, then it is possible for basically anybody. Not easy, but possible. The way I did it is that I reduced the portions, then I did not eat it with every meal. But every time I was eating cheese, I thought about what it meant for cows and calves. This went on for some weeks, then I felt ready and decided to stop it completly. I did not try to replace it by "vegan cheese". I do eat that now, but I don't consider it as a replacement for cheese, just a new type of vegan food, which is good, but it is not tasting the same as cheese. It seems to me that one problem you have is that you try to replace cheese by some non-dairy product, and of course it will never have the same taste, so you will never be satisfied. Instead I would suggest that you continue to eat some cheese (some!) while thinking about why you should not do it. Not to become guilty, but to increase your motivation. At some point, you should be able to stop cheese. And maybe you should check if you don't also have a nacho-problem :-)
Oh, and have your cholesterol level tested! When my doctor told me my bad cholesterol was a bit too high, and I should cut on meat and fat, I said I'm vegetarian and I don't eat gravy or fat food. Then the doctor asked about cheese. This gave me a bit extra motivation :-)
Anyway, good luck! You might lose some taste you like, but you will gain a fantastic feeling of doing the right thing!
My family is having a tough time giving up the cheese too. I am the cook, and I am vegan for ethical reasons, and it's hard to take others on the ride with you if they don't feel the same way, or have the same level of commitment. If you know what's wrong with cheese, and feel it in your heart, it's not so hard to give up. Watch the movie EARTHLINGS and next time you think you really need to have some cheese, think of those images. The longer you go without cheese, the less you will desire it, and may actually develop a revulsion to the smell (kind of like an x cigarette smoker). Cheese... yuck... smells like it came out of an animal...
BTW, There is no ethical difference between cow cheese or goat cheese. The baby goats are killed too, because they are not needed.
Shanasy: Right on... raw food vegan is the healthiest!! I prefer to eat this way, but unfortunately my family wants traditionally cooked food, so I am always trying to veganize recipes. I myself prefer to eat in a more natural way... just plain fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds...
For anyone who struggles with giving up cheese I suggest trying a few of the faux cheeses like Daiya. I think Daiya is pretty tasty, but my family doesn't like it because it doesn't LOOK like the real thing... geez... And the Coconut Milk yogurt is really good for those who like yogurt.
Thanks everyone. I love to hear advice from anyone and everyone. Each of us has different perspectives of what is the best way to go based on our own beliefs and experiences.
I have a Vitamix and use it often. Nutritional yeast is my pal. We've shared many meals to replace cheesy flavor.
Frank - I am a nacho-holic! It's my favorite comfort food. If I could find a way to make a decent vegan replacement - even close - I would be one happy camper. I've often wondered if there were many vegan French folks. Simply because of the vast variety of cheeses and how they are part of the culture.
Shanasy - I'm going to try your recipe this weekend. I love to cook. Do you know how long it keeps in the fridge? How much does it make? Looks like a couple of cups. That's quite a bit. Even for me.
I'm currently doing a fruit and veggie only cleanse for a month (no carbs). I'm hoping after the month that I will have adapted to a cheeseless life and my tastebuds change.
I'm not a person who craves sugars or chocolates. I crave creamy. Coconut products do wonders for that.
Just out of curiousity, are there other foods besides cheese that other vegans have issues leaving behind?
Sorry for the delay in response Suzy. No I am not sure how long it keeps in fridge - I would guess about a week but I end up putting most of it in the freezer and it seems to come out ok - just a little mushier. As for how much, I pour it into a glass loaf pan and it's about 2" tall - a wild guess. The loaf pan gives it a good shape if you want to cut it into cheese squares.
I don't know of any other items that are particularly hard to live without for vegans.
Good luck with your cleanse! I wish I didn't have cravings for sugar or chocolate like you...are you sure you are human? lol! just kiddin!
Let me know what you think about the recipe after you've tried it. You will find it is quite versatile!
Up until last week I considered myself a vegetarian. My husband is vegan, so cheese and dairy has naturally been reduced from my diet to accomodate his needs. I didn't realize how much I had unintentionally shifted away from dairy until I ate some.
I ordered a burrito without cheese and sour cream, but they messed up the ordered and it came with a ton. I didn't want to go back, as it was a pick up order and involved getting in my car and driving to the restaurant AND I didn't consider myself vegan anyway, so what was the harm?
My burps for the next 24 hours (sorry for getting graphic) tasted like rotten sour cream. And I was nauseous for 3 days, it ruined my weekend! I am officially vegan after that episode. I didn't notice any change moving away from the dairy, but certainly noticed when it was reintroduced!