Vegans--opinions on eating cheese from humanely treated animals - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So cheese is one of my very favorite things in the world. I have recently started buyaing cheese at a store here in the south called Earthfare that only buys their dairy products from farms that treat their animals humanely. My biggest reason for becoming a vegetarian is because of the maltreatment of the animals.

What are ya'll's opinions on eating this kind of cheese?

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#2 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 06:34 PM
 
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Well firstly, it wouldn't be vegan no matter how the cow was treated, so I do hope that you wouldn't call yourself vegan if you were eating cheese.

Vegans believe in causing no harm, as much as is possible and practical. Since it is entirely possible (and even practical, from a health perspective!) to live without cheese, no vegan that I know would consider it okay (for themselves).

What you have to understand is that somebody who opposes speciesism would NOT agree with your premise - that the cows are 'humanely treated'. They would not agree that it is possible to humanely confine, inseminate, control, deprive, and then take bodily secretions from, a living organism, no matter how we perceive the quality of life for that organism to be. Just like human slavery is never okay under any circumstances, vegans believe that animal slavery is never okay under any circumstances. And I don't think there's any debate about whether these animals are slaves - they are confined for the purpose of human profit. Period.

I hope you don't take offense at this, I'm not trying to accuse you of anything or make anybody feel guilty or defensive. I tried to use the language that appropriately expresses the vegan perspective, and I apologize if it comes off as harsh.

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#3 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't apologize. I want to first say that I never called myself a vegan.....I stated that I am a vegetarian. I just wanted vegans' opinions on the matter, because I was considering going vegan. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

I'd love to hear from others.

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#4 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 08:15 PM
 
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Eating an occasional serving of something like that is probably better than eating Kraft singles at every meal.

Believe me, there is no one in this world who could possibly love cheese more than I once did. I couldn't fathom the idea of a life without it as recently as 4 years ago. But I couldn't deal with the idea of the fact that even 'humane,' 'sustainable' dairy really isn't either. Cheese and milk take huge amounts of water to produce, and by necessity, male calves are killed for veal, even in the small local family farms. It may be comparatively humane, but it's still not good.

Really, honestly, if I can live without cheese, anyone can.
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#5 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's good to hear catnip. Actually I think the female cows also suffer because they are forced to become pregnant over and over again.

But what do you think if it was a local family farm where the animals are "pets" and milked occasionally.

What do you use in the place of cheese?

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#6 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 08:49 PM
 
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I would first advise on netting getting hung up on labels. if you are consuming an animal product, no matter the source, you are not vegan.

But that can be ok. If you are at peace with what you are doing.

I have two best friends that eat and live "as vegan as possible." The reason that they don't call themselves vegan is that they eat the eggs of a friend's and spin and knit wool goods. The eggs are infertile and are collected humanely. All of the animal fibers are collected humanely and they research every farm from which they buy. They are morally at peace with their decisions and that is what matters most.

I personally would not consume the cheese because I prefer abstaining from all animal products. But I wouldn't think badly of you for doing so.

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#7 of 26 Old 07-23-2010, 08:50 PM
 
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I do still eat cheese, but i've found avocados really satisfy the need for that creaminess on sandwiches. There are cheese substitues, daiya is a brand i've heard mentioned a lot. Nutritional Yeast is another thing a lot of vegans use for that cheesy taste.

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#8 of 26 Old 07-24-2010, 03:17 AM
 
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I eat a lot more nuts and seeds than I did when I ate dairy - I throw them into salads, add them to sandwiches, casseroles and pasta dishes. I put avocado, hummus and guacamole on things, and I also love making a garlicky tahini sauce to pour onto cheeseless pizza. I curbed the early cheese cravings by eating raw cashews by the handful.

For an occasional craving, I like Daiya on pizza or in a quesadilla, but it is definitely junk food and not something that takes the place of cheese in a diet. Tofutti cream cheese is pretty good, too.

I make a blend that is one part each sesame and hemp seeds and two parts nutritional yeast with salt added to sprinkle on pasta dinners and pizza.
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#9 of 26 Old 07-24-2010, 12:31 PM
 
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I agree with several posters that you cant label yourself a vegan while eating cheese (though I also think that it is next to impossible for anyone in this society to live a 100% vegan lifestyle - if you take any medications ever, drive a car, develop film etc you are likely coming into contact with animal ingredients or exploitation). I generally label myself as a 95% vegan or aspiring vegan or something along those lines when asked. I try my best to avoid eating and using products containing or tested on animals and as such did not eat cheese for about a decade. I managed to remain "95% vegan" for my first pregnancy but during my current twin pregnancy I found that, as a very small person with a very small appetite, I could not meet the lower end of the suggested protein requirements even if I ate virtually nothing other than nuts and beans all day so I added rennet, hormone etc -free cheese to my diet (and honestly I'm going to have a heck of a time giving it up after the kiddos are born and weaned. There is nothing like it ) My theory has always been to educate myself and do as much as I am personally comfortable with. If you get to caught up in "the rules" you are, IMO, more likely to throw in the towel. If you are comfortable eating small amounts of cheese that comes form cows treated more humanely than most cows, you may not be able to say you're 100% vegan but you're living a healthier, more humane lifestyle than most of the rest of the population.
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#10 of 26 Old 07-24-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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I feed my kids eggs and cheese from sustainably and humanely raised (local) animals. Of course, I don't call them vegan. I don't eat it myself, but from a moral standpoint I don't have an issue. Then again, my choice to go vegan was based on MANY more factors than animal welfare, which actually had only a very small influence on my decision.

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#11 of 26 Old 07-26-2010, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just to clarify....I never labeled myself as vegan. I just wanted the opinion of vegans. So thanks ladies for all the info.

I'd love support------>
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#12 of 26 Old 07-26-2010, 02:52 PM
 
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Well firstly, it wouldn't be vegan no matter how the cow was treated, so I do hope that you wouldn't call yourself vegan if you were eating cheese.

Vegans believe in causing no harm, as much as is possible and practical. Since it is entirely possible (and even practical, from a health perspective!) to live without cheese, no vegan that I know would consider it okay (for themselves).

What you have to understand is that somebody who opposes speciesism would NOT agree with your premise - that the cows are 'humanely treated'. They would not agree that it is possible to humanely confine, inseminate, control, deprive, and then take bodily secretions from, a living organism, no matter how we perceive the quality of life for that organism to be. Just like human slavery is never okay under any circumstances, vegans believe that animal slavery is never okay under any circumstances. And I don't think there's any debate about whether these animals are slaves - they are confined for the purpose of human profit. Period.

I hope you don't take offense at this, I'm not trying to accuse you of anything or make anybody feel guilty or defensive. I tried to use the language that appropriately expresses the vegan perspective, and I apologize if it comes off as harsh.
I really dont get this becuase You HAVE to milk a dairy cow...Have to...or they get sick...just curious what a vegan thinks about this? I follow a vegan diet but not for the animal reasons many vegans do...so I was just curious

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#13 of 26 Old 07-26-2010, 03:13 PM
 
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You only have to milk a dairy cow if you constantly keep her lactating. No forced, artificially insemnated preganacy, no mastitis from oversupply. Most animal sanctuaries feed the milk back to the cows.
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#14 of 26 Old 07-26-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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Oh I didnt know that...yikes! Thanks for the info!

High raw Vegans Mommy to 5!!
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#15 of 26 Old 07-26-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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Thanks Catnip!

Yeah that's basically the gist of it. If we didn't forcibly impregnante them and keep them lactating (and selectively breed them to produce more milk than they naturally would for their own calf), then they wouldn't 'need' to be milked. Those are human-imposed conditions.

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#16 of 26 Old 08-01-2010, 03:12 PM
 
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I don't get hung up on labels so call yourself whatever you want. Even when I was a non cheating vegan it began and ended with what I ate. I never considered it a proclamation on my lifestyle choices. just a description of what I ate. (After supper I would sit on my leather couch and knit with fine wools).

I love cheese. I hate cheese substitutes. Nothing compares to real, high quality cheese.

I had to go completely cheese free for a while though to break my addiction and then it became less of a food group and more of a rare decadent treat. I will also never go back to crappy cheap cheeses like Kraft or worse, Velveeta. Where I used to be able to eat four to six ounces per meal (for example a few pieces of pizza, cheese quesadilla etc) now once in a while (every few months) I will have a bite or two of realllllly good cheese. Someone will bring imported feta to church for coffee hour. no way am I passing that up! or I will have a piece of smoked string cheese. Or a little goat cheese on top of fruit. so yum. but it is a huge treat. not an every day thing or a standard part of my diet like it used to be (seriously, I doubt a day went by that we did not have cheese).

So if you feel comfortable finding some high quality, well sourced cheese, then by all means indulge. But i recommend keeping it as a special treat.

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#17 of 26 Old 08-05-2010, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Great advice lilyka! At this point it is an everday staple in my diet, but maybe I should try just eating it as a treat. I definitely won't be able to cut back cold turkey, because I am sure I will probably end up binging on the stuff....but a gradual cutback sounds feasable.

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#18 of 26 Old 08-05-2010, 01:06 PM
 
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My questions for a so-called "humane" dairy farm would be:

What happens to the cows when they stop producing?
What happens to the male calves that are born?

For most "humane" dairy farms, the answer to these two questions is that they go to slaughter. So the animals are nothing more than a commodity that only get to live so long as they are profitable (because that's what it comes down to, profits).
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#19 of 26 Old 08-09-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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I don't believe it's possible to treat animals humanely and still consume them or their byproducts. I don't think animals or their secretions are ours to use, so no, I wouldn't do it.

Cheese is addictive, so it makes sense that a lot of vegetarians have a hard time giving it up and that it's the last thing to go for may people making the transition to veganism. It's possible, though! And worth doing, IMO.

I think the search for cheese substitutes will always end in disappointment b/c nothing will taste/look/smell/act the same. And many vegetarians use cheese as a meal's centerpiece when they cut out meat (I know I did). I think the solution to this is to rethink how we conceive of meals. Why do you need to substitute something for the cheese? Just like we learn to stop thinking of meat as the centerpiece of a meal, it's possible to do the same with cheese.

Good luck!

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#20 of 26 Old 08-10-2010, 01:55 AM
 
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I used to be a cheese addict years ago, but I've gone for so long without it that now the smell of cheese really turns my stomach. In fact I find walking by the cheese aisle at the store worse than walking by the meat counter.

I rarely eat cheese substitutes, they are not particularly appealing to me. I occasionally do a homemade substitute (such as from the uncheese cookbook).

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#21 of 26 Old 08-10-2010, 04:36 AM
 
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I don't get hung up on labels so call yourself whatever you want. Even when I was a non cheating vegan it began and ended with what I ate. I never considered it a proclamation on my lifestyle choices. just a description of what I ate. (After supper I would sit on my leather couch and knit with fine wools).
I could see vegans becoming put off by this, since I think veganism, by the definitions I have read, goes beyond your diet, it's a life philosophy. I'd just call myself a total vegetarian, because I feel like the vegan label does have meaning and I'd want people to know I was OK with wool or silk or what have you. Although I think it probably gets the point across quicker than saying total vegetarian, so I might use it in that sense, but then refrain from using it around other vegans.

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Really, honestly, if I can live without cheese, anyone can.
I'm sure everyone thinks this about other people, but we can't really say this with any certainty. You just don't know what other people's experiences and tolerances are.
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#22 of 26 Old 08-10-2010, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for all your input. Someone made a good point when they said that it should be considered what happens to the male calfs and the older female cows that can't product anymore. I would actually do more research on these so-called "humane" farms and find out for my own curiosity. I really hate when farms stress "cage-free" or "humane" when they still treat the animals so badly.

You guys have definitely given me some things to think about.

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#23 of 26 Old 08-10-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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I'm sure everyone thinks this about other people, but we can't really say this with any certainty. You just don't know what other people's experiences and tolerances are.
I grew up in a family where cheese was served at every meal.

We had a family tradition of going every week to a gourmet cheese shop and trying whatever was new and exciting.

The big traditional special family meals for my house weren't turkey and ham but fondue and raclette. Some of my most treasured food memories revolve around cheese.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm a serious foodie who once loved cheese with a passion, and never thought I could give it up, but I challenged myself to eliminate dairy for 8 weeks and at the end of that, I didn't want or crave it anymore.

Giving up meat was easy for me, it wasn't a sacrifice at all. I thought cheese was something that was too essential to my life to live without, and I was wrong.

Sure, if someone has a ton of allerigies and intolerances, it might be more of a challenge, but if we're just talking a basic love of good food, then I think I can speak authoritatively.
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#24 of 26 Old 09-10-2010, 01:30 AM
 
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Well firstly, it wouldn't be vegan no matter how the cow was treated, so I do hope that you wouldn't call yourself vegan if you were eating cheese.

Vegans believe in causing no harm, as much as is possible and practical. Since it is entirely possible (and even practical, from a health perspective!) to live without cheese, no vegan that I know would consider it okay (for themselves).

What you have to understand is that somebody who opposes speciesism would NOT agree with your premise - that the cows are 'humanely treated'. They would not agree that it is possible to humanely confine, inseminate, control, deprive, and then take bodily secretions from, a living organism, no matter how we perceive the quality of life for that organism to be. Just like human slavery is never okay under any circumstances, vegans believe that animal slavery is never okay under any circumstances. And I don't think there's any debate about whether these animals are slaves - they are confined for the purpose of human profit. Period.

I hope you don't take offense at this, I'm not trying to accuse you of anything or make anybody feel guilty or defensive. I tried to use the language that appropriately expresses the vegan perspective, and I apologize if it comes off as harsh.
Your post was right to the point and I agree 100%. Many vegetarians don't realize what happens to the male baby cows who cannot be used in the production line or to the mamas when they cannot produce any more milk.
http://www.peacefulprairie.org/outreach/dairyAd.pdf

It was very hard for me to give up cheese (especially feta which is a staple in the diet of most Greeks). Once I opened my eyes to the fact that cheese comes from grieving mothers, I lost all taste for it. After a while, I didn't not consider it as food, the same way I had stopped to consider flesh as food, long time before that.

Foods that helped me in the beginning with my cheese cravings where avocados, feta made of tofu and spices & nutritional yeast ( I make the best mac&cheese with nutritional yeast). Let me know if I can help with some recipes!

ps. When we have the occasional pizza, we use DAIYA cheese. It's the best vegan cheese I've ever tried. Makes great grilled cheese sandwiches too.

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#25 of 26 Old 09-10-2010, 01:11 PM
 
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I spent 4 years as a vegetarian before going vegan, and was totally hooked on cheese. I was eating cheese right up to the ball dropping (I went vegan for my new millennium resolution), but it only took a couple of months for me to stop craving it and thinking it's really gross. The smell! Oh my god, it really grosses me out.

I do like daiya and vegan gourmet "cheese", but I don't eat it nearly as much as I ate cheese when I was vegetarian.

I would say eating eggs from a pet chicken would not morally be an issue for me (but I think eggs are gross, so doesn't matter for me), but as the pp's said, cheese is different. Chickens are laying eggs no matter what, if they are well treated (and I mean like a pet, not like in a "cage-free" farm setting), then I don't see the problem.

Before I went vegan I told a vegan I was having lunch with that I drank/ate only organic, "humane" milk and cheese, since the cows weren't being killed. She said, "What do you think they do with the male calves?" And it hit me that they would, by necessity, have to be slaughtered. And those calves have to keep coming, or no milk.

Around the same time I was working for an environmental group back East, campaigning against polluted run-off in the Long Island Sound. Most of that run-off comes from dairy farms upstate. I also learned about how much more resources it takes to raise cows than to grow crops. I decided the environmental impact of eating cow products, along with the ethical issues, made it necessary for me to become vegan.

I never tell other people they have to go vegan or anything, but if you are really concerned about these issues, I don't think eating this cheese on a regular basis is something you can justify to yourself.

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#26 of 26 Old 06-10-2014, 09:19 AM
 
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What truly defines a Vegetarian.

Actually, if you consume any dairy products, but not meat: by definition you would be a Lacto-Vegetarian. A true Vegetarian is someone who consumes only vegetables. Some think it is healthier than being a fruitarian. Ancient dietary knowledge, or knowledge regarding dietary suggestions that are said to be from a source as old as time itself by some, or perhaps more accurately from approximately 5,000 years ago - Ayurveda's - suggest that one should not mix fruits and vegetables.
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