I Want To Be Vegan But I Love Cheese – You’re Not Alone!

I’m revising this article in light of the introduction, here in the UK, of Cathedral City’s plant based cheese product. It almost had us fooled! If you want to be vegan but you love cheese then don’t worry, it’s plant based to the rescue with the best attempt yet (in our opinion) at a vegan cheese.

I Want To Be Vegan But I Love Cheese!

 Cheese was probably the hardest thing for me to quit when I decided to go vegan. We used to really like our cheese! Oddly, I am mildly repulsed by it these days. But if (like I did back then) you’re saying to yourself, “I want to be vegan but I love cheese” then I can relate 100%. Although, it might not be as bad as you think 🙂 

 

Watch: Nisha from Rainbow Plant Life admits to a deep dark secret!

( Ok … so I want to move to San Diego after watching this vid )

 

Cheese Has a Mild Morphine-Like Effect!

Travelling the highways and byways of the world wide web, you’ll find plenty of examples of people trying to go vegan but are finding giving up cheese the most difficult thing to do! Many can knock the meat on the head without a second thought but …

… it’s that lovely fatty, salty, cheesy delightfulness which has you hooked. Almost like you’re addicted to the stuff. Well guess what? Cheese is actually mildly addictive [1] (very mildly) so maybe this goes some way to explain your difficulty in quitting!

I wrote another article entitled “Does Violife Vegan Cheese Melt?“, looking at the addictive nature of cheese in more detail. Why not have a quick read after this? (that link opens in a new window). You might be surprised by what you learn!

Giving up cheese seems like it’s going to be impossible. Much the same as giving up smoking seemed impossible before you actually did it. I gave up smoking a long time before giving up cheese and on both occasions it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.

So you can take some comfort in that!

Thankfully, these days, there are some really good dairy free cheese products on the market. One or two of them actually do a very good job of approximating the texture and taste but I believe, as vegans, we need to be realistic …

… it’s unlikely we’ll ever produce something without dairy in it which passes for real cheese! {2023 edit}: if you’re lucky enough to live in this damp little isle we like to call Great Brexitland (sigh) then get hold of some Cathedral City plant based cheese. This is amazing stuff and a couple of times my wife and I have looked at each other perplexedly and we’ve both thought … “There’s actual cheese in here!”.

We have some very clever boffins out there who’ve managed to replace hundreds of meat and dairy laden products with plant based alternatives but the cheesy problem is a tough one to crack.

So, if you’re trying to go vegan and have hit the cheese brick wall, by all means use the replacements (which are improving all the time) but just be aware you may be disappointed and it’s your mindset which will need to shift on this one.

 

Why Am I Craving Cheese As a Vegan?

 

Cravings are difficult to overcome as they’re usually the result of many years of conditioning. Habits which have formed over time. The longer you’ve been forming the habit the harder it is to break those neural pathways and move beyond.

A rock climber silhouetted against an orange sky. The cravings happen when your body has those stimuli removed. This is when you really have to dig deep and ask yourself the soul-searching questions about why you took this path in the first place.

Your willpower must overcome those thoughts and cravings. Many people find this too difficult and can’t even entertain the idea, let alone actually take that step to give up the cheese!

But the simple truth is, you’re not vegan if you eat cheese. No matter which way you try to cut it. I see a lot of people stating they’re not 100% vegan, or they’re a part-time vegan. These are misnomers. You’re either vegan or you’re not.

Yes, you can adopt elements of a vegan lifestyle and I’m all for that. Minimising your consumption of animal products would make you plant-based. The fewer animals that suffer the better but you don’t get to call yourself a vegan if you’re chomping down the cheese on toast, even if it’s only at the weekends 🙂

I rarely have cravings for cheese any more and like I said above, it was way easier than I thought it would be to give up. I found the cravings lasted for a short time before I was thinking about it less and less. Then one day, it didn’t enter my consciousness.

That was a fine day!

 

How To Hone Your Willpower Skills To Break The Connection.

I went vegan overnight after being vegetarian for many years. It was cold turkey for me all the way. That’s just the way I am – all or nothing! Whether you decide to do it gradually or immediately, it’s useful to have a method or technique to employ when the cravings come!

Your method will partly depend on your reasons behind going vegan. Mine were ethical. I witnessed the horrendous cruelty perpetrated on dairy cows and that was it. Something switched inside me.

Coming from this mindset it was, arguably, easier for me to summon up extra willpower when I started thinking how tasty it would be to munch on a 3-cheese pizza with all the (veggie) trimmings!

Wow! Even just writing that down took me straight back to my non-vegan days, even though I don’t even like cheese anymore … that’s how powerful the cheese addiction is!

Anyway, my technique is to just visualise the animal suffering I’d witnessed. The video I watched which made my decision for me. When I remember the look in that cow’s eyes it is easy for me to say no to cheese. That, for me, is enough to do the job.

Maybe you want to be plant based for the health benefits. If so, you might find it more difficult to find that willpower. One technique for you might be to really research the effects cheese has on the human body. The fat, the cholesterol, the hormone levels and potential links to cancer [2].

Really find out what cheese is doing to you, physiologically.

Then use visualisation techniques to see yourself living that much healthier life without the burden of cheese in your body. Try to fully experience that scene inside your body and really ‘see’ how much more effectively your body functions without it.

Tip: it’s best not to visualise the negative health effects of cheese because this could potentially cause negative health outcomes. Focus on positive visualisations only. The power of the mind is truly remarkable!

Look up some simple self-hypnosis and ‘self-talk’ techniques to help you with this.

Thankfully, you’ll find it won’t be long before the cravings subside and you’re finding it easier every day … and you can always reach for the Cathedral City when you need to!

 

What to Eat When You’re Craving Cheese as a Vegan?

 

I mentioned above I don’t think we’ll ever produce a vegan cheese which cannot be distinguished from the real thing, so when you’re missing that taste in your food what can you use to give you a cheesy taste?

Yellow neon sign: "Say Cheese" against a black background. Well there’s the cheese replacements, obviously, but you can also use something called nutritional yeast which can be added to many dishes and sprinkled on pasta or pizza, for example. It gives you a nice cheesy flavour and is really good for you, packed with B12!

Another little trick and a bit of a secret weapon when it comes to emulating that creamy, fatty mouthfeel of cheese is cashew nuts … yes, you heard that right!

A cashew cream can be used in lasagne or vegan mac n’ cheese and if you combine it with the cheesy taste of nutritional yeast and a splash of lemon or lime juice, you’re almost there!

It’s certainly an adequate replacement in my book and when you consider no animals were harmed due to the preparation of your dish, you can put up with minor shortfalls compared to real cheese!

 

You’ll Learn to Love Your Cheese-Free Life

After a while, if you’re anything like me, you’ll start to see cheese and dairy products in general in a very different light. The thought of tucking into a pizza dripping with that fatty stuff makes my stomach turn a bit these days!

Image of a pumpkin looking like it's being sick

It’s amazing how your perception changes once you’ve given it up for a period of time. I do think you’ll need to refrain from consuming any cheese for a month or so though before you start to realise that it’s actually pretty gross 🙂

But if you really feel you cannot just give it up overnight then, by all means, just reduce it gradually from your diet. I used to eat cheese at least twice a day. So move to once a day, then twice or three times a week then once a week.

You get the idea!

Yes, it will take longer to eliminate that craving from your body. You’ll still be feeding that addiction but don’t be too hard on yourself. Take it at your own pace. Maybe set yourself a goal and use some of the tips in this article to help you on your journey.

 

Any questions?

Please do go ahead and get in touch with me if you have anything you’d like to ask me. Comments section below. Between my wife and I we will probably be able to help you out. My wife is a genius in the kitchen and is full of good ideas 🙂

I hope this article has helped you on your vegan journey and please rest assured your desire to become vegan is an honourable one. We need to reduce our impact on this planet and reduce (ideally eliminate) the torturous suffering inflicted on our animal friends across the globe.

Lastly, if you like the content here on Vegan Slate why not sign up to our new post alerts mailing list? We’ll let you know when there’s fresh material published and we never spam.

 

Thanks for reading and please share far and wide 🙂

Rohan.


[1] – Peuhkuri K, Sihvola N, Korpela R. Dietary proteins and food-related reward signals. Food Nutr Res. 2011;55. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v55i0.5955. Epub 2011 Jun 1. PMID: 21909291; PMCID: PMC3168366

[2] – Malekinejad H, Rezabakhsh A. Hormones in Dairy Foods and Their Impact on Public Health – A Narrative Review Article. Iran J Public Health. 2015 Jun;44(6):742-58. PMID: 26258087; PMCID: PMC4524299.


This article was originally published on July 18th, 2021 at 17:45 and updated with fresh content, a video and images on April 27th, 2023 at 06:33.


 

2 thoughts on “I Want To Be Vegan But I Love Cheese – You’re Not Alone!

  1. Bill Reply

    I’m sorry I don’t believe in vaganisom, but your article does cover breaking an addiction and if animal protein for building you’re musical is driving for an obeast population why?

    Because there are carbs in everything but meat and cheese, and oils so I can say if I couldn’t have cheese in my diet I would like a stand-in.

    Although there is a bunch of cruelty inflicted on these creatures It stands to reason that they could put certain laws in force for the cow’s well-being.

    You know like a. live stock OSHA, and a Live stoke union, but instead of the cows striking, concerned citizens could do the striking.

    Thank you for this very informative article,

    Thank You 

    Bill Wright. 

     

    • Rohan McAvee Post authorReply

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you for visiting my page and taking the time to comment. All opinions are welcome whether positive or negative 🙂

      I’m not sure I understand your first question so if you’d like to elaborate a little I’ll do my best to come back on that.

      To your second point, a lot of people do find they need a stand-in when trying to give up the cheese and there are plenty of options available now. I know you’re unlikely to ever try one but you’d probably find they don’t really cut it if you’re looking for something that accurately replaces cheese.

      To your third point, on the cruelty … laws are already in place to protect animal’s welfare but unfortunately they are often circumvented and transgressions rarely prosecuted. It is a sad fact that cruelty is rife in the industry. There’s no avoiding it.

      I’m not saying all farmers abuse their livestock but the demand created for cheap meat and dairy by a global population necessitates agricultural systems which focus on efficiency, not welfare.

      Thanks again for your comment Bill 🙂

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