National Cheese Day the Plant-Based Way
There are many reasons why people choose to become plant-based, and they all stem from three tiers:
Cheese is often the hardest thing to ditch on your journey to becoming completely plant-based because, let’s be honest: it’s f*cking delicious. I’m not going to sit here and tell you the reasons cheese is bad for you, the environment, or the animals (just kidding, I’ll explain after all of the good stuff), but I am going to give you a definitive guide to the absolute best plant-based cheeses in today’s ever growing market.
Kompas’ Favorite Plant-Based Cheese Products
For Charcuterie Boards
Sara in Chicago
Pizza at Kitchen 17
Brian in Phoenix
Pizza at Mellow Mushroom
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Why I don’t eat cheese.
I want to stress that this is my personal journey that I have experienced in becoming plant-based and that everyone’s journey is different. The most important thing to remember is that every little bit helps. Whether you choose to eschew cheese and dairy products altogether, or just eat less, you are making an impact. I openly share my experiences because it has helped others open their minds and hearts to a perspective they could never understand, and if this helps just one animal, saves one gallon of water, makes someone feel a bit healthier — I’ve done my job.
I don’t want baby cows to be taken from their moms.
The lightbulb moment for me happened when I decided to do research on the negative impacts of the dairy industry and came across this non-graphic video of a calf being taken away from it’s mother and was horrified by the mother’s devastating reaction. On dairy farms calves are taken away from their mother less than 24 hours after being born and tossed into small crates, often never to see their mothers again. The male cows are generally sold off to vendors to become veal or raised to become a bull, having their sperm taken from them to artificially inseminate female cows over and over again. The female cows are typically raised to become part of this seemingly endless cycle of suffering.
The average lifespan of a dairy cow is 5 years, the average life expectancy of a cow is up to 25 years, that’s effectively and 80% reduction in lifespan.
I don’t want cows to die for my enjoyment of a meal.
An important thing to remember is that this is the typical process for industrialized dairy farms, not necessarily small family run farms in the countryside with wide open spaces and rolling green hills. You know, the ones that we all picture because that’s what was marketed to us as reality growing up. Unfortunately, the vast majority of dairy farms are overcrowded, depressing places where these innocent creatures are born only for their milk and body parts. The reality is that these cows wouldn’t be born if our demand for their byproducts didn’t exist, and we have the power to vote with our dollar every time we choose products that don’t contain dairy.
I want to experience optimum health.
The most transformative change for me on my plant-based journey came when I completely abstained from dairy products. I loved cheese and couldn’t imagine a day without it. What would I do without cheese pizza?? The ultimate combo of cheese & wine?! How does one experience joy without the melty goodness of a grilled cheese?? I tried cutting out dairy abruptly, but often found myself sneaking cheese. Ultimately I overcame my addiction and was able to feel the incredible benefits of not having to process another species’ lactation in my body.
I lost the stubborn body fat I thought I’d never get rid of.
I could eat an entire meal without feeling any inexplicable digestive issues.
My mind became more clear.
The best part? I was still able to eat cheese pizza, wine & cheese, and melty grilled cheese. I experimented and discovered plant-based products that I could enjoy in place of the animal products I once consumed.
I want our planet to thrive.
The dairy industry uses an exorbitant amount of natural resources to raise cows and process products.
Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions
According to the Environmental Working Group, cheese ranks third in the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions — ahead of pork, turkey, chicken, eggs, and many other animal products.
Excessive Water Use
According to the Water Footprint Network, 381 gallons of water is required to make one pound of cheese.
Inefficient Electricity Use
To keep cheeses at a cool, steady temperature as they age, producers use an unnecessary amount of electricity.
I want to hear from you.
What are your favorite plant-based cheeses?
Which plant-based alternatives to you hope to see in the future?
If you’re not yet plant-based, what keeps you from trying?
As always, I extend my sincere gratitude to you for taking the time to read this and hope that you’l follow us on our journey to make the World a better place at Kompas.