People are often surprised when they hear me say, "if you can only give up one animal product: Get off dairy." I find most people think dairy is the "best of the worst" — it's not nearly as "bad" as other animal products. That couldn't be further from the truth.
Although I could list hundreds of reasons why you should get off dairy, I'll narrow it down to some of the biggest motivators. Why? Because knowing your motivation — knowing why you're getting off dairy — and keeping that in focus, will help you give up cheese and dairy.
As we learned in The China Study, casein — the protein in dairy — is the biggest known carcinogen, bar none. It literally turns on cancer.
Casein is also physically addictive. When our bodies break down casein during the digestion process, casomorphins (yes, as in "morphine") are created. These guys then have an opiate effect on our body, making us feel happy and relaxed...and addicted.
Every time you eat dairy, you fuel an addiction, both mentally and physically. Like a cigarette or a drug addiction, your body will physically crave dairy and go into withdrawal without it. Meanwhile, your mind is racing, wanting another happy fix. The only way to stop this vicious cycle is to stop getting high on dairy. Cheese, by the way, has the greatest concentration of casein of any other dairy product, which is why so many people are cheese fanatics. They’re literally hooked on cheese.
Dairy (and cheese) are also linked to a long list of health problems, including osteoporosis. (Yep!) Dairy cows also have it the worst. Tortured, painful, and miserable lives followed by horrific deaths, all the while supporting the veal industry. It is perhaps the worst in terms of cruelty.
More reading: Dr. Hyman's 6 Reasons You Should Avoid Dairy
Dr. McDougall: When Friends Ask: "Why Don't You Drink Milk?"
How to Give Up Cheese, Yogurt, etc.
1. Know your motivation. Keep in mind why you're dumping dairy (see above).
2. Willpower. Know that you're going to have to fight off an addiction. There will be a withdrawal — stay strong and break the cycle.
3.Find substitutes.Find vegan cheese and dairy substitutes to help make the transition easier. Find a non-dairy milk you like. If you liked whole milk, try almond milk. If you liked skim milk, try rice milk. Try different brands and different milks — soy, almond, rice, sweetened, unsweetened. You willfind one you like.
Try different cheese substitutes (just make sure it's vegan. Some rice, soy, and almond-based cheeses contain casein or whey, milk proteins). The most popular brand is Daiya. Other brands include Tofutti and Follow Your Heart. Also try recipes for "cheese" such as my Nacho Cheese recipe, Alfredo, Feta, Mac n' Cheese, or any of the recipes in my cookbooks — such as the Grilled Cheese recipe in EHH, the Pizza Cheese in HHC, or the Mexican Queso in HHA.
If you miss the creamy texture, try substituting other foods with similar consistencies: Avocado, cashew creams, walnuts, hummus! I can't recommend all my cheese "sauces" in my cookbooks enough either.