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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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!
As verified in our Satya poll, the one thing vegans miss
most is cheese, and fondness for cheese is a weakness that keeps many
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
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 www.playfood.org.
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,
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.