If you’re having a hard time going vegan because you just can’t seem to give up cheese, you’re not alone! Many of us have felt the pull to cheese like a crack addict to crack. In fact, you may even feel like you’re… addicted.
Believe it or not, it could very well be that you are addicted to cheese! Cheese contains casein, which breaks apart in digestion to release naturally occurring opiates called casomorphins. Astonishingly, casomorphins mimic the reaction of morphine on our brain! These opiates in dairy products may be responsible for the calming effect of nursing in infants, and also for the addictive qualities in cheese.
Am I an addict?
Before I was vegan, my four personal food groups were Swiss, Havarti, Cheddar and Chocolate. In college, I was always a cheap date because I’d choose fettuccine alfredo over steak or lobster any day. Interestingly, when I wanted to lose weight, I fantasized about someone putting padlocks on my refrigerator so I simply couldn’t get to the food. (Sounds like the fantasy of an addict to me.) I remember when I first read the advice in a Susan Powter book to give up dairy, it seemed like it would be easier to give up everything else except for dairy, and specifically cheese. I think I might have been one of those cheese addicts.
So what do you do if you suspect you are a cheese addict? Don’t despair! You won’t have to put yourself in lockdown if you really want to give up cheese. You simply have to clean out your taste buds for about 30 days before whole, natural foods start tasting amazing once again, and foods like cheese, ice cream and chocolate start to sound unappealing. I know this sounds impossible, but trust me, I’ve seen it happen to many people, including myself.
Vegan cheese assortment by Chocolate and Beyond. Clean out your taste buds from dairy based foods so you can appreciate the flavours of vegan cheese and other plant based foods.
Learn more about food addictions
To learn more about the chemical effects of how casein turns into casomorphins, you may want to Google Dr. Neal Barnard or Dr. Bill Harris, both of whom are medical doctors that I have heard speak to this topic.
You can also watch Dr. Neal Barnard’s lectures on addictive foods and cheese on this page above or read his book Breaking the Food Seduction, where he also addresses the topic.
To learn more about how to clean out your taste buds for a lifetime of good health using the 30 Day Vegan Challenge you may also refer to my book, Vegan in 30 Days.
Sarah Taylor is the author of Vegan in 30 Days, and runs the popular blog "The Vegan Next Door".
She has a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University, is on faculty at Joel Fuhrman's Nutritional Education Institute, and has been featured on many television and radio shows internationally.
Her next book, Vegetarian to Vegan, will be available in 2012.