I'd be a rich woman if you gave me a dollar for every time I heard someone say "I could never go vegan; I could give up meat, but could never give up cheese." Let me just say right now that I didn't go vegan because I hated the way cheese tasted. I loved cheese. It was a major food group in my diet. I craved it and wanted to put it on everything.
Ever feel that way? Like you need to have a slice of cheese? I honestly did too. And there's a reason I craved it. Do you remember the headlines from a few years ago regarding a scientific study that proved cheese was as addictive as crack cocaine? The media ran with the story and vegan organizations latched on to it. But it wasn't true. The study was actually on which foods we binge eat because they ignite the most addictive-like eating behaviors in ourselves. Of course pizza was on the top of the list—which is what caused the "cheese is as addictive as crack cocaine" firestorm. But what researchers actually found was that it is the carbs (sugar) and fat in a food that causes the blood sugar spike which results in us overeating something. So why does it feel so damn good to eat cheese—why was I craving cheese so much? Because when we eat something we love, it releases dopamine in our system. It's that simple. So stop using the cheese-is-like-crack-cocaine excuse as your crutch.
So why am I advocating giving up cheese? Most of you know that I am a big proponent of animal rights and am a vegan firstly based on those reasons. The dairy industry as a whole (milk, dairy, cheese, yogurt) is deplorable. So if you are going to eat dairy, purchase from a local farmer who you know treats their animals humanely. I am not delusional enough to think that you are all going to go vegan for the same reasons I did. That being said, I do think you should go, at a minimum, dairy free because dairy is actually not good for you. Forget all about those white mustache magazine ads and commercials—they are sponsored by the dairy industry. Scientific research shows that dairy products have little to no benefit to bone health and it does more harm than good.
The nutritional make up of cow's milk is designed to double the size of a calf in 45 days. Wait, what!?!? Ergo, dairy has a significant impact on your cholesterol and, shockingly, your weight. It is full of saturated fat. Ever wonder why mammals wean their babies off breast milk after a certain time? It's because we were not meant to drink our mother's milk for the rest of our lives. In fact, it's downright unhealthy to. If you are trying to lose weight or get your cholesterol down, one of the best decisions you will make is to ditch cheese and dairy from your diet. I'm not saying it's going to be easy. While we have determined that cheese is not in fact as addictive as crack cocaine, it is still delicious and you probably moan out loud while eating it. It brings you pleasure and makes you feel good. I know that. That's why I'm giving you an alternative. Treeline TreeNut Cheese.
I'm not sure where this brand has been the past 5 years that I have been vegan, but I'm sure glad it's in my life now. Their cheeses will change the way you think about vegan cheese. The Treeline Treenut Cheese company doesn't know me, has never contacted me, and certainly didn't pay me or provide me with their cheeses to review. I spent my own hard earned money to buy and tried two of their cheeses. Now, they are expensive—don't get me wrong—and you may want to put it back on the shelf for that reason alone. However, dairy cheese is expensive as well. Spend the money and try it—you won't be sorry.
I tried their Herb Garlic French-Style Soft Cheese (spreadable) and their Cracked Pepper Aged Nut Cheese. Both blew my socks off. The soft cheese I chose to put out incognito at a small dinner party over the holidays, in which I was the only vegan. Everyone loved it and it wasn't until I started eating it too did someone ask me if it was vegan. Sadly, there were no leftovers for me. The aged nut cheese is just as good and it's sliceable! It is rich and creamy with a sharp edge and, as my non-vegan husband put it, a nice after-bite.
I haven't had cheese in 5 years, but honestly this tasted more like cheese than any other non-dairy cheese on the market that I have tried—and I have tried a lot of them. And it is a lot better for you than most non-dairy cheeses, which tend to consist of soy, oil, and a million other ingredients you can't pronounce. But how does it stack up nutricionally against real dairy cheese?
I'm telling you, you have got to try this cheese! It honestly tastes like dairy cheese to me. I am now a fan of Treeline Treenut Cheeses. Have you tried them yet? If so, let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Oh, and stay tuned for the next blog on how you can make your own nut cheese. It's easier than you think! Sign up for my free download 5 Ways to a Healthy and Compassionate Lifestyle and get on the email list to make sure you never miss a new blog post and recipe!