Don't hate me for this. When people start to go vegan, cheese is one of the last things to let go of. Why? Well, it tastes good and it's a great comfort food. Cheese was one of the last things that I gave up when I became vegan. Nacho cheese sauce was one of my favorite foods by far. Once when I packed my own lunch as a child, I remember I packed only chips and a can of nacho cheese sauce. I got in trouble when the teacher noticed that's all I had to eat. But hey, I was happy about it. Luckily, now I can still have it plant based.
But let's talk about cheese and how it effects the body.
Cheese is high is fat (20%-60%) and cholesterol (60-80mg/100g) content. Due to being high in fat and cholesterol, this increases the chances of arteriosclerosis (plaque build up in artery walls) and cardiovascular disease (heart disease). Since it is also high in sodium it can increase the risk of arterial hypertension (high blood pressure).
Cheese contains an excess of protein, which could cause renal insufficienty and liver disease, since they also contain toxic substances produced as these proteins are degraded (for example, ammonia).
There are also digestive disorders that come from the consumption of cheese. Substances are formed during the maturation process of making of the cheese, which can cause irritation when consumed.
When I was around 8 years old I began to have severe migraine headaches. They would last for an entire day. I was dizzy, nautious, vomitting, and had visual disturbances. I would know when one was coming on, because it started with seeing a spot that wouldn't go away, but would grow bigger. If I was looking at your face, I would only be able to see half of it. This vision distrubance reminded me of the old televisions, where if you didn't have a channel; it would turn black and white and be fuzzy. My migraines were like this, which is called Migraine Aura.
This began to become more frequent, and with each trip to the emergency room, my mom became more worried. I began having them about once every week or two, and that's when my mom decided that was enough of that.
She took me to a doctor who wanted to put me on a daily medication so I wouldn't get the migraine attacks anymore. Being that I was only 8 or 9, my mom didn't think it was a great idea to have her young daughter taking pills everyday, for something that occurred only once every week or two. So she went to get another doctor's opinion on the matter. What he told us would seem pretty drastic to some people.
The doctor told my mom to take me off of dairy, nitrates, caffeine and chocolate. Extreme? I think taking a pill everyday for the rest of my life is more extreme. So my mom took me off all foods that contained these substances. There I was 9 years old and a vegan. This was before they had all these great vegan products they offer today. The only non-dairy milk they had back then was Mocha Mix, which has anyone else heard of this? It's not very common these days, with all of the different varieties of plant-based milks they offer today. If I was staying at a friends house, I had orange juice in my cereal. That's how uncommon veganism was back then.
Luckily the migraines went away after I gave up those foods. As a child I did have a weak moment when I wanted the chocolate Dunkaroos instead of the vanilla. I quickly learned I couldn't get away with eating even an ounce of dairy and chocolate.
With time I grew out of it, and was able to eat those foods again. Which is why I love chocolate these days. However, if I eat cheese I will still typically get a migraine. Today, I choose to be vegan for different reasons.
That's some reasons why I really enjoy vegan cheeses and recipes that contain them. So here is a good one for anyone who loves macaroni & cheese, but wants to make it healthier than your typical recipe.
Macaroni & Cheese
1 cup raw cashews
2 cups water
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 red bell pepper (or 1/2 a large)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
Place all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until it is silky smooth. Make your pasta according to the directions on the box. Once you strain your pasta place it back into the pot, then add the blended cheese sauce. On a medium heat cook this until the cheese sauce thickens and is the texture of macaroni and cheese consistency. It usually takes about 5-8 minutes, with continuous stirring. Then it's ready to serve.