Could you literally be addicted to cheese?
Whether its packed on top of pizza, melted over nachos, stacked inside of cheeseburgers or sliced up on crackers, cheese often stands out as one of the toughest animal products for folks to shake. As it turns out, there is some pretty compelling science behind the reason why.
In 1981, researchers at Wellcome Research Laboratories in Research Triangle Park, N.C. took a closer look at the composition of cow’s milk and drew an earthshaking conclusion: a cow’s liver actually produces small amounts of morphine, codeine and other opiates, which winds up in their milk. This is apparently nature’s way of ensuring the propagation of the species, as these trace amounts promote mother and calf bonding. (By the way, there are trace amounts of morphine in human milk, as well, presumably for the same reason.)
So here’s where it gets interesting. Casein is a prominent protein in milk, and as it breaks apart during the digestion process, it releases small amounts of these opiates. In cheese, however, the concentration of casein is much greater and, likewise, so is the concentration of these opiates. Add to this the fact that cheese contains other amphetamine-like compounds (like phenylethylamine) and we can see how a little rahab in the rubber room might not be such a bad idea for some cheeseheads!
As an advocate of the 100% plant-based eating regimen, the best advice I can give someone looking to kick the cheese habit is this: Drop it cold. Then, once you transition to using soy cheese, do not keep switching back and forth. Some people require a transition period between regular and soy, and if you keep going back to “real cheese,” it makes it tougher for your taste buds to adjust.
Also, make sure that none of these soy cheese products contain casein. The rocket scientists at some of the soy-based products companies still insist on using this milk protein, primarily (I presume) because it makes the soy cheese melt easier. Yet, most people who use soy cheese are trying to avoid dairy. Fortunately, there are a few companies out there who have gotten it right, and it will even say “vegan” on the package.
Suggested brands to try: For block-style soy cheese, look for Follow Your Heart brand. For individually wrapped slices, look for Tofutti brand.