I could never do that.
Those are words I hear almost every time someone finds out I’m vegan.
The funny thing is, I said those exact same words not too very long ago. Veganism seemed absolutely Impossible with a capital I.
And the reason for that Impossibility? Cheese.
You see, I had a spectacular love for cheese before I became vegan. If there were a cheese pageant (which there very well may be in Wisconsin), I would have been crowned “Miss Cheese,” been given a Swiss scepter and a cheddar throne, and I would have ruled my happy kingdom where it rains Parmesan and snows Buffalo mozzarella.
When filling out a form for camp at 12 years old, I listed cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese as my favorite foods. I ate giant spoonfuls of straight cream cheese for snacks at all times of day. I was crazy about cheese.
Then, at age 23, I found out about the reality of the dairy industry and realized that it was not in any way in line with my values. I had a big problem.
How could I possibly give up cheese? But how could I possibly support an industry that abuses animals? Or continue to eat something that is so unhealthy for me? I had to do something.
But I also had to be realistic with myself – I couldn’t break up with cheese at the drop of a hat. Other dairy products I could switch out for alternatives easily, but cheese, I needed to wean myself off of. This happened slowly but surely.
This is where you come in. You might be on this blog because you’re curious about what in the world a vegan can eat, and maybe a little curious if you could incorporate some healthy vegan food into your own diet.
And I will tell you truthfully that if Miss Cheese – a dairy-addicted, non-chef, non-expert, regular person – could do it, you most certainly can.
You can do anything you decide you want to do.
It’s a choice, and you have complete power in that choice! Isn’t that great!?
Going veg or even just incorporating vegan food into your life is a journey. It took me a long time, and I started it all by saying “I can remove all animal products from my diet except cheese,” and that’s what I did for a while. And then I ate a little less, and a little less, and then…how did it go?
Before I knew it, I realized I didn’t need or miss cheese (see my picture in the postscript below for proof!); in fact, breaking my addiction to cheese opened up all sorts of new culinary delights for me.
I tried Indian food for the first time, and guess what? I loved it! I tried different cuisines, and not only expanded my palate, but my horizons too. I realized I enjoy cooking and baking (who knew?!), had fun trying new recipes, became a more active advocate for animals, met awesome new veggie friends, and more. All from that first step.
So why not let your own journey begin? Decide to take that first easy step of finding a vegan substitute for something you’re addicted to.
If your addiction is cheese like mine was, challenge yourself to try a vegan cheese recipe or store-bought alternative. (Try Daiya for shredded cheese or Follow Your Heart for cream cheese!) See how you like it and try something new!
Or try an alternative to whatever your meat/dairy addiction might be. You can click here for alternatives to try for any craving!
Here’s an easy recipe for melty, tasty vegan cheese sauce (think nachos) that helped me transition.
Vegan Cheese Sauce
– 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (A cheesy, nutty substance that is healthy and delish! Find it in the bulk section of Earthfare, Whole Foods, or any natural foods store.)
– 1/4 cup flour (regular or gluten free)
– dash of cumin
– 3/4 cup water
– 1 tbsp. yellow mustard
-1 tbsp. Earth Balance buttery spread
Mix the nutritional yeast, flour and cumin in a sauce pan. Pour the water in and stir until there aren’t any big lumps. Turn the heat on to medium, stirring constantly. When it gets a little thick on the bottom, turn the heat down to low and keep stirring. When it gets to the consistency of nacho cheese, add mustard and butter and stir off the heat. Pour over nachos or whatever you want!
To taking that first step!
P.S. Here’s the proof that there’s (a really delicious) life after cheese! This is me having a mini excited freak out at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples, Italy a couple of months ago. They only have two kinds of pizza there, and one of them is vegan! It was insanely amazing.
I liked your website links to the Humane society and health studies related to dairy (especially citations debunking the dairy = more calcium absorption in the bones myth). One more thing I’d mention is the environmental toll caused by the dairy and beef industry. Personally, once I gave up dairy I have less sinus issues and am less congested.
Great insights, Peggy! You’re right about the environmental toll – it’s huge! I’ll maybe do a whole post about that another time. And that’s great that removing dairy from your diet helped with sinus issues – I experienced that as well. Thanks for commenting!
Sarah, I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Ben sent it to me. I will try your recipe as it looks great. Caqn’t promise to become a full veggie lover but am trying more and more things thanks to Ang and Ben. I am so proud of you for standoing up to your beliefs. Love Mama Beth
Thank you so much, Beth! That’s awesome you’re open to trying new veggie recipes. I’m proud of you!!
Sarah, Really appreciate the lightness and humor you’re bringing in this article. Makes going vegan seem much less overwhelming.
Sarah! I loved cheese too, I started making my own cashew cheez. TO DIE FOR. It melts, it grates and it slices! Here is a recipe: http://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/thin-crust-sriracha-bbq-tofu-and-moxerella-pizza/
Thanks, Ben! Taken in little steps with a sense of humor, anything is more doable!
Thanks for the link! That looks fabulous – I’ll have to try it!
Let me know if you make it! It’s the best, I made a pepperjack version today. Uh-mazing.
You are amazing! While I may not be vegan by any means I really enjoy your blog. I love the way your family stands up for what they believe in. I feel very blessed to know you girls. Keep writing!
Thank you so much, Kathy! I’m so glad that you are enjoying my blog! I appreciate your feedback!
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Hi! Today is Day 1 of my becoming vegan. My husband has been vegan for 7 months now, and his health has improved, his chloresterol dropped 45 points after going vegan in just a few months, not to mention he lost 26 lbs. Today I did mess up and have regular chocolate (I NEED chocolate!!) but that is how I found your blog, because of your blog about chocolate! Anyways, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this blog from a newbie!! So far, so good, and I must say I seem to have more energy! Last night I watched Vegucated on Netflix, and it really opened my eyes up to the treatment of the animals. I had NO idea it was that bad! I had been flirting with the idea of trying to incorporate less meat in my diet for a while now, but after seeing that, I had to give it all up, even the dairy and cheese!
Thank you for this sweet comment, Maria, and WAY TO GO! You’re making a great choice for the animals, your health, and the environment. Keep up the great work! 🙂