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September 2005
Say Cheese!
By Kymberlie Adams Matthews

Kym’s Beloved DIY Cheesey Sauce

Perfect for grilled cheese, mac ‘n’ cheese, and as a dip.

1⁄2 C. Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1⁄2 C. Flour
1⁄2 tsp. Salt
1⁄2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 C. Water
1⁄4 C. Margarine
1 tsp. Wet Mustard
*Add few tbsp of vegan mayonnaise

Mix dry ingredients in pan. Stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until it thickens and begins to bubble. Cook an additional 30 seconds, remove from heat, and whip in margarine and mustard. It will thicken as it cools.

Makes about 3 cups.

The average American consumes 200-plus pounds of milk and cream and 30-plus pounds of cheese a year. And consider this fact: combined, Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or about 350 slices per second. So why on earth would a person give up dairy? Well, some people need to maintain a diet low in cholesterol, while others have an intolerance to dairy products. I, on the other hand, gave it up because there was pus on my pizza.

All in a Day’s Work
Let’s face it, today’s dairy cows have it pretty bad—worse actually. Every year, dairy cows are forced to give birth. With a gestation period of nine months, the physical toll on a cow’s body is incomprehensible. To make matters worse, cows are routinely artificially inseminated—a metal insemination rod is thrust into her vagina and up into her cervix, as she is strapped into what the dairy industry calls a “rape rack.” This all ensues while the cow is still lactating from an earlier birth. In other words, their bodies are producing milk through seven months of a nine-month pregnancy!

To cap it off, a recent survey by Penn State estimated that approximately 73 percent of the inseminations performed in the U.S. are by incompetent factory farm workers. According to an industry manual, Artificial Insemination Technique: Dairy Integrated Reproductive Management, “Failure to understand the functional relationships between the various tissues and organs of the reproductive system leads to consistent insemination errors.”
How’s that for cream in your coffee?

Pus Anyone?
Despite the crowded conditions, accelerated production schedules and a multitude of growth hormones, dairy cows are continually milked even when suffering from severe udder infections called mastitis. More than half of U.S. dairy cows suffer from mastitis, a bacterial infection of their udders.

Because of mastitis, blood, pus and bacteria from the infection are routinely pumped out with the milk. One culprit causing the hundreds of millions of pus cells in every liter of milk may be Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) a synthetic often sold as Posilac. Posilac is extensively used by dairy farmers to boost the amount of milk their overworked cows produce, usually 100 pounds of milk a day—10 times more than they would produce naturally. Bovine growth hormone has been banned in many countries because of possible risks to consumers and adverse consequences to the health and welfare of cows. Not so in the U.S. In fact, Monsanto—the leading producer of rBGH—has used expensive lawsuits and influence at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop other dairies from advertising or labeling their milk as hormone-free.

Even the dairy industry acknowledges a crisis. The ‘somatic cell count’ is a system designed to measure the amount of pus in milk, and according to the National Mastitis Council, milk with a somatic cell count of higher than 200 million parts per liter should not enter the human food supply. In spite of this, the FDA permits the retailing of milk containing 750 million pus cells per liter (that’s about two pounds). Researchers estimate that an ordinary glass of milk contains between one and seven drops of pus.
Combating the cows’ infections requires the heavy use of antibiotics. Antibiotics given to farm animals can leave drug-resistant microbes in milk. With every slice of dairy cheese or glass of cow’s milk, super microbes can stream into your system. Once there, they can transfer drug-resistance to bacteria in the body, making you vulnerable to previously treatable infections.

Let’s Talk Cheese
Okay, now that we’ve gone over how milk is made, let’s talk cheese. In order for milk to coagulate and eventually become cheese, a bacterial culture is added to pasteurized milk to break down the proteins that keep milk a liquid and convert it to lactic acid, which in turn coagulates the milk protein—casein—to form curd.

Many human bodies naturally regard casein as foreign and normally react to its presence by creating an antibody. That antibody-antigen reaction creates histamines (mucus and phlegm) which clog internal body organs. And according to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, symptoms of lactose intolerance also include gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea, and flatulence. Additionally, dairy consumption has been linked to breast, prostate and ovarian cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and a plethora of childhood illnesses. Millions of Americans are dairy intolerant, and an estimated 90 percent of Asian Americans and 75 percent of Native and African Americans suffer from this condition. It’s no mystery why no other species drinks milk beyond infancy or the milk of another species.

Casein is also used to make glue for such things as holding wood furniture together and sticking labels to soda and beer bottles. Try scraping off one of those labels, and then consider the effects that casein may have in your body. Eww!

Rennet is the most popular enzyme (chymosin) used in the cheese-making process. Rennet is extracted from the fourth stomach (abomasum) of slaughtered calves—calves typically slaughtered for veal.

A quick lesson in the art of cheese-making explains that after the calves are killed, the fourth stomach is removed and cut into strips; the stomach lining is then scraped to remove surface fat, stretched onto racks where moisture is removed, ground and then finally mixed with a salt solution until the rennet is extracted.

Since the consumption of calves for veal has not kept pace with the demand for rennet in the preparation of cheese, a distinct shortage of this enzyme has developed. Consequently, a few years ago it became a common practice to mix the rennet extract from calves’ stomachs with a pepsin enzyme derived primarily from the stomachs of swine. This mixture is widely used in the U.S.

The Mouse Ate the Cheese, but Should You?
There is a chance you will stumble across vegetarian cheese made with rennets of non-animal origin—fig leaves, melon, wild thistle, safflower or the fermented fungus Mucor miehei. Unfortunately, genetic engineering—or mad science as I like to call it—has brought new and easier ways to create chymosin for use in cheese-making. Many of these so-called vegetarian cheeses (they use calf cells) are currently being made using chymosin produced by genetically engineered microorganisms. The development of genetically engineered chymosin has been encouraged by shortages and fluctuations in the cost of actual calf rennet. Once the genetic material is introduced there is no further need for calf cells. Basically, companies have altered the genetic blueprints of living organisms and are selling you the resulting gene-cheese and scientists do not know the long-term effects of releasing these unpredictable organisms into the environment and people’s diets.

The problem for consumers who wish to eat vegetarian or non-genetically engineered cheese is determining what ingredients a particular cheese contains. Unfortunately, the FDA does not require cheese labels to differentiate between the kinds of rennet it may or may not contain. To complicate matters, cheese-makers can mix animal, plant, and microbial varieties of rennet and simply label them “enzymes.” Cheese labels can actually include any one of the following variations: enzymes, microbial enzymes, microbial enzymes (non-animal, rennetless), rennetless, rennet, enzymes and rennet, vegetarian rennet, and microbial coagulants.

Even though a few companies take time to list the particular type of enzyme used, finding a true vegetarian cheese is similar to venturing on a treasure hunt without a map.

It’s time to take a closer look at the scary ingredients hiding in your cheese, and if you do consider yourself a vegetarian, to also consider the calves who go into making your gooey mozzarella. What’s the point of a veggie pizza if there’s flesh in the cheese? And let’s not forget about the insurmountable cruelty dairy cows face every day of their lives.

From Cheddar to Swiss, cream cheese to Parmesan, a variety of soy cheeses are available at most health food stores and many supermarkets. These truly vegetarian and vegan cheese options are not only healthier but are not the end products of cruel manufacturing processes. Although these cheeses are called “non-dairy,” they are not all vegan. Some contain casein, calcium caseinate—even rennet. Fortunately these ingredients are usually clearly defined on the label.

So, the next time you crave a piece of cheese pizza, just think of the concentration of growth hormones, antibiotics, calf rennet and pus you are putting into your body. You are what you eat!


Vegan Cheese, Please


As verified in our Satya poll, the one thing vegans miss most is cheese, and fondness for cheese is a weakness that keeps many vegetarians from going vegan. Sadly, many soy and rice cheeses still contain animal products like casein, and vegan varieties often taste like rubber and don’t melt well. This month Satya was on a mission to find the perfect commercial vegan cheese. And while the results of our rigorous field research cannot be summed up in one all-purpose cheese replacement, we did find several brands that meet our various cheese needs.—S.I.

After grating some of Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese, we brought it over to our local Brooklyn pizzeria and they prepared the tastiest vegan pizza we’ve ever eaten. The cheese grates and melts easily and tastes just like how we remembered pizza to be. Other varieties of Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet include Monterey jack, spicy nacho and cheddar. While the cheese from the package is ready to eat, many felt that the consistency was too soft or slimy, and melted versions (like on nachos) worked best. The fact that it melts is a notable vegan accomplishment.

One of the biggest hits at this year’s AR conference in L.A. was Play Food, a squeezable cheese with flavors like Silly Cheeze (“cheddar but better”), Nacheezmo (“mucho gusto for your nacho”), Whip Cheeze, and Cream Tang. Though it sounds like an overly processed Cheez Whiz stepchild, you might be surprised to learn that in addition to being really yummy, it’s nutritious, fair trade, organic and raw, made essentially from nuts, water, and spices. Play Food also uses solar energy—making eco-conscious food fun. The biodegradable corn plastic packaging may seem a little funny—like it should be a shampoo bottle—but is really convenient. You just squeeze on the cheese without having to open and close jars or wash knives. The Nacheezmo was a Satya favorite for nachos but really could be a nice condiment to anything—sandwiches, wraps, or as a topping on broccoli or baked potatoes. For those of you who dump Green Goddess dressing or sprinkle nutritional yeast on everything, Play Food might become a new obsession. To learn more visit

One thing that’s really nice about Road’s End Organics packets of Chreese cheddar mix is that you can vary the consistency. A thicker mix makes a mean grilled cheese, while thinner varieties are perfect for macaroni and cheese. The flavor is subtle and while some might find it a bit bland, you can easily zest it up by adding some Follow Your Heart Veganaise or your favorite hot sauce or salsa. Pre-mixed bottled nacho chreeses are also available and go well on tortilla chips and topped with tomatoes and peppers or as a condiment on sandwiches.

Who knew that raw organic walnuts, nutritional yeast and Celtic sea salt would create the perfect vegan Parmesan cheese? Eat in the Raw, Inc., the makers of Parma! sure do! These great tasting nutty sprinkles add a nice flavor to pizza, pastas, corn, and salads. It’s also a good source for B complex vitamins and is wheat-, soy- and gluten-free. Plus, a portion of proceeds from the sale of Parma! goes toward supporting animal rights. Good deal.

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