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9 June 1999 Issue

The Power of Cheese?

by PrkStRangr@aol.com

My good friend Beverly had a mouse in her office which she tried to catch
with a humane trap baited with cheese. She couldn't seem to get it to go for
the cheese, so in desperation, she put a Thin Mint in the trap. The mouse
couldn't resist that minty filling surrounded by chocolate.

Among my vegan friends, milk chocolate is also hard to resist. There are
vegan chocolate treats readily available, but when we pass by the candy
machine at work, or when we see that box of milk chocolates on sale the day
after Valentine's Day we climb right into the trap.

I cheat now and then too, and I dismiss it by thinking it does so little harm, at
least the rest of my diet is based on compassion. Now that I have confessed
my sin I guess I have to make a greater effort not to repeat it.

Cheese is another very big temptation, for vegetarians if not mice. I was a
lacto vegetarian for many years and cheese was the last thing I gave up when
I decided to go vegan and it was a hard step. I love Italian and Mexican food
and I never thought I could get by without Lasagna, Manicotti, Chili Rellenos
and Cheese Enchiladas. But I have discovered that there are some good
substitutes available for cheese and other dairy products. (Wait a minute, you
all remember why we shouldn't be doing dairy don't you? Dairy cows are
made pregnant once a year to keep them producing milk, the calves born
become veal. The veal industry wouldn't exist if not for the dairy industry.
Dairy cows suffer just as much as any other factory farmed animal-confined
in stalls, affected by infections, etc.? Right?)

There are commercial dairy substitute products available in many health food
stores and in some chain supermarkets: soy milks, Tofutti Better Than Cream
Cheese, Tofuttti Sour Supreme (sour cream substitute), Frozen dessert Tofutti,
and many soy cheeses. The only soy cheeses I know of that are completely
vegan are the brands SoyMage and VeganRella. Most of the other soy, rice
and nut cheeses have an ingredient called casein added to make them melt
easier. Casein, also known as caseinate or sodium caseinate, is protein
derived from milk, making any product which contains it non-vegan.

Once again I have to admit that if my health food store is out of SoyMage and
VeganRella I will sometimes buy a soy cheese with casein. Let's look at it this
way, at least we are greatly reducing the demand for dairy. If everyone made
these food choices, the meat and dairy industry would collapse and food
scientists would spend more time making vegan foods that cook better
(Rationalizing my variable ethics).

I use tofu, creamed in a food processor, for many cheese-like recipes. One
box of tofu plus one package of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese is the
basis for a number of my favs.....

- use herb flavored Tofutti Cream Cheese and add nutritional yeast for a
blend that works well in Lasagna and Chili Rellenos
- add cocoa powder and sweetener to plain Tofutti Cream Cheese and bake
in a graham cracker crust for cheesecake
- use herb flavored Tofutti Cream Cheese and add roasted garlic and red
bell pepper for a great salad dressing

For some really incredible substitutes for cheese I recommend The UnCheese
Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak. I have only tried a few of the recipes in her
book but I plan to try them all, they are amazing, she has concocted vegan
substitutes for American Cheese, Brie, Swiss, Muenster, Colby, Feta,
Mozzarella, Parmesan, Ricotta, Port Wine Cheese, and many more, even a
replacement for Cheese Whiz in a can (good grief).

Visit Joanne's Homepage and order this book or check out her other books at...
Joanne Stepaniak
http://www.vegsource.org/joanne/ 

So, I have to ask you....are you mesmerized by the power of the cheese
industry? Or would you rather find a better way?

 

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