From a young age, I have always been a – cheese – kind of guy. From my diet to my pick up lines. My main educators being – Wallace and Gromit, as they exposed me to the truth about the moon and its cheese qualities. I often dreamt of skyrocketing into space, with a cheese knife in one hand and a pack Jacob’s finest crackers in the other – ready to eat my weight in dreamy cheese goodness.
Cheese sandwiches were always a staple in our house, ‘mac and cheese mountain’ was a weekly climb, any toasty without a melting centre was banished from the pantry. And every family get together consisted of at least one nacho cheese – jacuzzi dip.
And of course, we were all in our element when the greatest season of all peered its festive head.
The Mighty Season of Cheese…
– C H R I S T M A S –
The one time of year where your cheese consumption is not judged, but instead – applauded. There is never a cracker too many or a potato ‘too’ cheesy.
But, the platter of 2013 – was the one that changed it all…
What started off as a perfectly normal cheese platter stroll – slowly started to sway slightly askew.
I first began to eat my way through the Camembert, the Wensleydale and the Brie. But as my mind started to make more Stilton than sense – I found myself greeted by my good old friend – tucked behind the Wensleydale and cranberry…
The Great Wall of Cheddar.
It was magnificent.
A cheesy Christmas delight!
I then bumped into Louise mid bite – who went on to ask whether I liked the cheddar that she had brought? With my mouth stuffed with cheese – I gave her a big thumbs up!
She replied with a sigh or relief…
‘Ah good, I was worried people wouldn’t like it when they found out it was vegan…’
My mouth dropped to the floor…
You gouda brie kidding me!
WE ARE CHEESE PEOPLE GOD DAMMIT!
But. As my slight cheese melt down began to subside (after a quick dip in the christmas punch). I found myself considering this whole vegan fiasco.
Louise began to tell us all about a whole new world of cheese – cheese made from coconut, almonds and cashews. Cheese that didn’t cause disease – and that wasn’t so bad on the waistline too.
It all sounded rather appealing. But could I honestly live without cheese?
What would I tell Linda if I gave Cheddar the boot? Who would run our local cheese society meetings? And, oh lord…
WHAT ABOUT FONDU FRIDAY??
A world without cheese, is one that I camembert the thought of.
So instead of making my world cheese-less , I decided to find alternatives instead…
And I am happy to report that:
My energy levels have increased, I am leaner, I feel stronger, my lap time to the fridge and back is quicker, I am hardly ever sick, my skin is clearer and brighter and I still get my cheese kick.
So for any of you cheese lovers out there – here are my tiny tips on transitioning to a vegan cheese life…
1) Throw a cheese and wine night:
Buy in a bunch of fun and fancy looking vegan cheese and wine.
Make score cards and have a tasting night where you and your friends can rate the different cheeses.
Our cheesy menu included:
-Peace, love + vegetables : ‘Dill, Cashew cheese’
-Botanical Cuisine : ‘Mushroom truffle cashew cheese’
-Botanical Cuisine: ‘Persian Style Macadamia Feta’
-Damona : ‘Mozzarella with tomatoes and herbs’
-And the taste test winner –
-Vegusto : ‘No – Muh mild Swiss cheese’
The Vegan Society website also have a list with different rated cheeses if you want to browse before buying any.
2) Read all things cheese:
I mean you’ve probably heard the word on the street…
‘Cheese is as addictive as crack’
‘Cheese contains more cholesterol than steak’
Now, ‘dairy crack’ isn’t the way I plan on going. Even if people say that cheese isn’t that addictive – it clearly has its hooks in most of the population.
The dairy industry have done a good job/ spent a lot of money targeting kids and parents – making them believe that cheese and milk are good for you.
So, here are a few great books that you may like to read with some great info on cheese and the effect it has on the body:
– ‘The Cheese Trap’ – By Dr. Neal Barnard.
– ‘The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life’ – By Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
– ‘The China Study’ – T. Collin Campbell
– ‘The Starch Solution’ – John A. McDougall
3) Out cheese yourself:
Make sure you have vegan cheese options ready in your cupboards. Cheese up the shelves and your fridge with every alternative you can get your hands on – so when the cheese cravings strike – your toasty won’t be left cheddar-less.
4) The Cheese Effect:
Even if you don’t care about your health – you may care about the animal behind the product. Eating cheese is a personal choice. But, sadly – with cheese being made from the milk of cows, goats, sheep etc… You’re not the only one in the equation. As fine and dandy as the cheese making process may seem from the TV ads and packaging – it is actually quite the opposite. As you may already know – (just like humans) for an animal to produce milk, it must first be pregnant. So to get the milk needed for cheese – the animal is first artificially inseminated. After giving birth, the new born is then taken away from the mother after only a couple of days so the milk can be used for dairy products. The new born will then either be used for the meat or the dairy industry. The process is then repeated, as the mother is then impregnated again. When the mother can no longer produce any more milk – they are classed as ‘spent’ or ‘dry’ and will then be killed and used for meat.
But what about organic?
Same procedure as above – the animals are simply fed a different grain
You may often hear people say – ‘The milk/cheese I buy comes from a good farmer’ – even in this case – the fluid produced is there to help make a baby calf grow into a fully grown cow. By eating the product – a baby will not be. It is taking away the food intended for a baby, from its mother.
5) The waiting game:
It may take time to kick the cheese craving. But after a month or two – the dreams of – dairy crack – will become a distant memory. Brie-lieve me.
To help with those cheesy dreams
Here is Jake’s…
– NACHO CHEESE SAUCE –
2 cups of boiled and mashed potatoes (2 – 2 1/2 medium white or sweet potatoes)
1 cup of chopped and boiled carrots (2 large peeled carrots cut into pieces)
1/2 C. water
1/3 C. almond milk
Juice of half a lemon
3/4 C. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder (opt.)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (opt.)
Wash + peel potatoes and carrots
Throw them in the Jacuzzi // pan – and boil until soft
Blend potatoes + carrots with the rest of the ingredients in a blender, on a high speed setting until the sauce is completely smooth
(MAKE SURE NO ONE IS LOCKED IN THE BLENDER BEFORE BLENDING)
– With nachos, guac, salsa and beans
– As a mac and cheese sauce
– As a hot chip dip
Store in refrigerator for up to a week in a jar.
If you want to re-heat simply add to a pan and gently heat on a low temperature.
* You could re-use your sauce/coconut oil jars to store – sauces, cheese dips or any left overs that you have.
If you want you want a quick cheese fix…
Toasty a la Phil…
Grab favourite vegan cheese
Coat 2 slices of bread in vegan butter
(or as many slices as you wish – no bread judgement here)
Load bread with cheesy goodness
TOAST IT UP!
Whether you choose to go for healthy cheese alternatives or just want something for the taste – there are options everywhere!
And, after skyrocketing into space to try the cheesy moon…
It turns out – the moon is actually made of cashews anywho.
Graters gon’ grate
Keep it cheesy people
‘Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining peace within yourself that comes from embracing non violence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable’
Gary L. Francione