Updated: Apr 29, 2020
One of the most common answers I get from people when I ask them what's holding them back from fully going vegan is, "cheese". Yes, the infamous, "But, I can't give up cheese" response, once again surfaces all other excuses, but many don't really understand why.
Sure, it tastes good to most. There's many varieties, it melts, it's salty and fatty, but there must be something more, right?
So, before we get too deep into the physiological addiction to cheese, let's first understand what it is. Cheese is made by curdling milk; in simple terms, a starter culture of bacteria is added to convert the naturally-occurring lactose into lactic acid. Then, enzymes are added to curdle it. During this process, much of the water is removed, and approximately ten pounds of milk is equal to about one pound of hard cheeses. Summary: cheese is a very concentrated version of milk - this part is important.
Milk contains naturally-occurring hormones such as Bovine Somatotropin (BST) and Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). Often cows are also given a synthetic version of BST, known as rBST, which boosts milk production. BST is produced by the cow's pituitary gland, which regulates how efficiently the cow converts feed to milk. In addition, the chief protein in milk is casein, and a fragment of casein called casomorphin, which has a chemical structure, and effect on the body, similar to opioids, and essentially encourages baby calves to come back to their mothers for more. Nature is beautiful, isn't it?
Female cows' pregnancy lasts around 283 days, or about 9.3 months; similar to a human. Cows produce milk for the same reason we do; for their babies. This fluid is made to help the babies grow to maturity; anywhere from 1000 to 1800 pounds.
So.. let's back up here. Milk is breast fluid meant for babies. The dairy industry violently takes babies away from their mothers in order to steal the milk for human consumption. Then, they artificially inseminate the cows (aka forcefully impregnate them) and the process repeats over, and over, and over again until the cows no longer produce milk. The mothers often get mastitis; a painful mammary gland infection, and are simply tossed in the trash once they serve no financial gain for the dairy industry. Baby female cows are raised to do the same thing, and male calves are slaughtered and chopped up, the put into pretty little packages called "veal".
Milk; it's full of natural hormones, and it's meant to grow animals to far beyond the weight any human could even survive. It's one of the cruelest agricultural industries, and serves us no health benefits that couldn't otherwise be obtained by a plant-rich diet. So, why the hell are we drinking it?
Let's blame that on the "got milk" era, but I could write an entire book o