A Case Against Cheese

This story begins as most stories begin, sitting at a coffee shop, fiddling between the occasional notification on my iPhone, scrolling through Instagram feeds, and attempting to drink my coffee while it’s hot. Most of my stories begin with this same introduction, and yet, this one feels different. Why does it feel different you ask? Well, let me tell you—I realized as I was getting my coffee today that every single time I do I ask for a little room at the top, a feature I never would have used early in my days of drinking coffee, but one that I have adopted as of recent, in lieu of the acidity of coffee and the way creamer perfectly neutralizes it, yet, I never actually get cream. I usually opt for almond or oat milk and have been known to leave the aforementioned coffee shop if they do not meet the dairy-free requirements of my life.

Yet, inside my fridge at this very moment is a half-used carton of heavy whipping cream that I have used a countless number of times in various dishes, of which, I used just last night to make stuffed mushrooms. Along with said whipping cream, I also have at my disposal butter. Yes, butter which is also made from milk, French butter to be exact, made with French cows that sparkle like the French sun that shines upon them.

So what’s the problem right?

The problem is that I have self-professed, mostly to myself, that I am a vegan. I don’t eat meat, always opt for dairy-free creamer at coffee shops, never eat processed cheese or milk foods at restaurants, and yet, in my own home, I have two ingredients that are very un-vegan, actually I have three, I bought some camembert cheese the other day. So why not just use milk in my coffee and call myself a vegetarian? Because I want to be a vegan. I so badly want to be able to give up the whole animal product life altogether but I cannot seem to forgo the dairy that provides the perfectly creamy risotto or the way butter adds such an excellent level of fat to the food I eat. I can’t seem to part with a delicate and buttery parmesan and pesto sandwich. I don’t want to give up cheese wheels that have been aged for several months.

This inconsistency plagues me, but I know that a lot of vegetarians once were in this place. I’ve reached out to a few known veg-heads online in search of answers to this constant craving for cheese and dairy, and sadly, have come back with answers that all consist of, consider the cows, you’ll get over it—but none with a solid answer as to how. Does anyone else feel this way? Has anyone else tried to go vegan but found themselves straddled somewhere between the lines of a social vegan, whilst secretly devouring cheese in their bedsheets at night? Still just me?

I think one of the main issues with the whole thing is that I became a veg-head in part due to the inhumane treatment of animals, but primarily out of a social issue in which the meat and agriculture industry contribute so much to climate change and environmental issues, that I felt it was the easiest way to play a part. Not only that but after countless hours of documentaries and books read, I felt the health reasons for cutting out meat, vastly outnumbered the benefits of eating it—and, for the most part, all of the reasons are still the same reasons I continue to eat this way today.

I feel better.

I feel healthier.

I lost 5 lbs and started seeing my skin clear up a lot more. I also realized that there are so many amazing vegetables out there and so many interesting ways to cook them that I actually think I enjoy eating more now as a vegetarian than I did before—BUT cheese, heavy whipping cream, and butter seem to be the three things that I cannot avoid.

I read an article a few days ago that said something along the lines of cheese being an addictive substance, equal to that of crack without the more extreme side effects. So why? Why can’t I give it up? Am I addicted? Who is responsible for adding this drug into my life and when and where is the rehab to get me off of it. I want to stop craving it so badly, but when you have a hankering for pasta and you need that perfectly snow white companion like pecorino romano to sprinkle over everything, who will be there? Some vegans have suggested nutritional yeast, but it’s not the same. I’ve read the stories about nut cheeses but at the end of the day, it just doesn’t seem worth it. It doesn’t melt properly, the consistency is different, and they have yet to create a substitute for Camembert or Brie or Roquefort or even Parmesan.

After 700 words, I feel more confused and more frustrated about this issue than before, and mostly, I feel like a whiny child. I feel like someone who says that they care about an issue but then folds the minute the issue becomes slightly difficult. Some people seem to be easier about sticking to their convictions, and while I considered myself to be one of those people, I realized that I am much weaker than I think. It’s one thing to walk into a coffee shop and order a dairy-free substitute for creamer and completely another thing when you know inside of your home at this very moment is a small carton of milk sitting there waiting to be used. Everythings a process, this I know to be true, but when does the process become easier? Is there ever a moment when the process becomes easier? Is it naive of me to think this way at all?

I’m almost to 1000 words now, maybe I’ll…

 

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