Thursday, November 20, 2014

The High Cost of Vegan Cheese

My daughter has been vegan for about four years.  Vegans follow an even more limited diet than vegetarians.  The most devout ones don't eat anything produced by an animal or from an animal.  That includes eggs, all dairy, and even honey.

My daughter is devout.  But rather than give up mayonnaise, butter and cheese, she eats vegan-friendly versions instead.

My wife complains about the high cost of these vegan-friendly substitutes almost every week.  And she goes over-budget buying them.  But I tell my wife that if our daughter craves cheese and butter so much, it means her body is crying out for real, honest-to-goodness dairy.  As I wrote earlier, I don't fully endorse our daughter being vegan.

I say that we should buy absolutely no substitutes.  Instead we can buy eggs and dairy from producers that treat their livestock with care and respect, a major concern of vegans.  And I suspect that dairy produced the old-fashioned way is friendlier for the environment than the spreads made from vegetable oils or the cheeses made from cashews.  I believe that such substitutes require much more energy to produce because their raw ingredients are so thoroughly processed as to make them unrecognizable.

Some vegans will argue that there's a health issue with dairy.  They complain that it's loaded with saturated fat, which is bad.  I reject that entirely.  Saturated fat has been unfairly demonized.  The fat from pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle has a ratio of Omega3 to Omega6 that's comparable salmon, plus CLA (conjugated linoleic acids) and butyrates, both of which are important for good gut health.  The heart and brain both use saturated fat as fuel.

It's true that some people just can't tolerate dairy.  It can promote inflammation and mucus production.  Some people are lactose intolerant.  Others must avoid casein.  It's the casein in dairy that can mimic opioids in the brain in individuals with leaky gut syndrome.  So these intolerances are really the only good reasons to avoid dairy.

Well, even if our daughter agreed to eat real butter and cheese, our cost would still be fairly high.  Organic dairy from humanely-treated, grass-fed cows is not inexpensive.  But at least it's real and wholesome.

What do you think?

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