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Posts Filed Under The ‘Vegetarian Blues’ Category

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Plant Milks

Somehow, that does not sound particularly appetizing – plant milks – yet according to Gourmet News magazine there is a growing market for plant-based milks. Per-capita consumption of cow’s milk has been falling. I am okay with that. The article calls almond milk “the new white milk,” while soy milk is still ahead in popularity. According to Packaged Facts publisher David Sprinkle, consumers choose plant-based dairy alternatives for numerous reasons: either they are vegans, vegetarians and people concerned about antibiotics and growth hormones often found in cow’s milk, lactose intolerance, milk allergy, and the genetic disorder phenylketonuria.

Fortunately, phenylketonuria is extremely rare, though serious. Sufferers are advised to severely limit their consumption of several foods including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, cheese, legumes, milk and other dairy products, as well as starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, pasta, and corn. Limiting one’s consumption of all those foods alone makes the genetic disorder a very serious one. It is important to note that these foods do not cause phenylketonuria, but that these protein-rich foods must be avoided if one is diagnosed with this disorder.

If avoiding milk because you are vegan, there is no point in recommending cheese instead. However, if one is vegetarian, the milk is acceptable (depending on one’s definition of vegetarian) as well as most cheeses. The cheeses that would not be acceptable for vegetarians would be those that are produced with traditional animal rennet – a coagulant that is used less and less often. Avoidance of milk because of lactose intolerance makes sense. That intolerance is not a problem caused by aged cheeses. The younger fresh cheeses have very little lactose themselves, compared to milk. For persons avoiding dairy products due to concerns about the use of antibiotics and growth hormones, the use of those hormones is entirely avoided in milk destined for cheese making, and if an animal is on antibiotics, that animal is not headed to the milking parlor. Milk containing antibiotics does not make successful cheese. If the person’s resistance to dairy products is because of a milk allergy, that person might try skipping cow milk and cow milk cheese (the bulk of dairy products) as the occasional low tolerance to cow milk may be the problem.

In the meantime, while milk consumption falls, the consumption of cheese continues to rise.

Max McCalman

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Addicted to Cheese

d1042 max Addicted to Cheese

A post on Vegetarian Blues has me in fits. An old article from the Orlando Sentinel is quoted:

Of all the potentially addicting foods, cheese may be the most complex. In research studies using vegan and vegetarian diets to control cholesterol or reduce body weight, most participants soon forget the lure of ice cream, sour cream, and even burgers and chicken. But for many people, the taste for cheese lingers on and on. Yes, 70 percent of its calories may come from waist-augmenting fat, and, ounce for ounce, it may harbor more cholesterol than a steak. But that cheese habit is tough to break.

Give me a break! Yes, cheese has addictive properties but I am fully certain that the consumption of cheese is a good addiction to have, and for many reasons. It is interesting to note that the first two foods cited as easy to “forget the lure of…” are also dairy products: ice cream and sour cream. The lure of dairy is always present, the primordial food that milk is in its many forms.

One of the biggest reasons why it is so difficult to give up on cheese is that our bodies know a good food when it eats it. Those addictive opioid peptides found in cheese actually help control our food intake. They also play a role in motivation, emotion, and the response to stress and pain. If a food delivers a lot of nutrition while helping to control our appetite then a little additional motivation and alleviation of pain should be permitted.

The article goes on to say that the cheese industry is looking for those Americans who will eat it straight out of the package, whatever the cost to their waistlines or cholesterol levels. It fails to mention a number of cheese components that can help you to slim down. Along with those appetite-controlling opioid peptides there is the satiety factor to be considered. Cheese (being a near-complete food) tends to satisfy us so that we do not crave excess amounts of food, cheese included. A little bit of cheese goes a long way.

A misconception I often hear is that it is the fat itself which makes us put on weight. More accurately it is instead the excess calories we consume but do not expend. Of course you can derive calories from fat, but you can also derive calories from protein and carbohydrates. The fat that is found in cheese not only makes the cheese taste good, it also helps to satisfy our cravings. That fat also breaks down into some mighty important fatty acids such as conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Multiple studies of the type of CLA found in dairy products have shown that it helps to reduce our weight; some studies indicate that a diet that contains this fatty acid can reduce abdominal fat! Another benefit of CLA is that it decreases whole-body glucose uptake. This is what we want.

mastering cheese 225x300 Addicted to Cheese

There are several other good qualities of this addictive food. Cheese is an excellent source of the amino acid which suppresses our appetites and helps to reduce body fat – tyrosine. Other amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are derived from cheese help to lower our cholesterol levels and control our appetites, and to metabolize the fats and proteins that we do consume.

The cheese industry does not claim that cheese is perfect but given a choice of foods there is no other that matches the complete nutrition that cheese provides, and there is no other food with a better track record for food safety. Cheese is derived from our first food – milk – our first and only food for the first several weeks or months our lives. Unfortunately, what in many cases passes for cheese is so far removed from our first food that it is no wonder that cheese has been repeatedly and viciously maligned. Yet even those processed cheeses are still better foods for us than most any other, and a safer food too.

By the way, my cholesterol levels are amazing and I am quite slim. My HDL is 163 and my LDL is 64, not bad for someone my age. Good genes don’t hurt but the 100 pounds of cheese that I eat each year does not seem to be hurting either.

Max McCalman

13628 Addicted to Cheese