A man wearing a white coat and stethoscope standing next to a book cover

It’s ‘Dairy Crack’!

Issue 2|Spring 2024

Neal Barnard, MD, Author of The Cheese Trap, Explains the Fascinating Reason Why We Get Hooked on Cheese – and Why We Must Break the Habit

Katherine was an Air Force aerospace engineer stationed in Iraq. When her tour of duty ended, her family and friends decided to help her make up for all the foods she had missed while she was overseas. Cheese was high on her list, so a friend gave her an entire case of 48 mac-and-cheese dinners. She ate them for 48 days straight.

Katherine gained some weight. She also developed a painful condition called endometriosis, which is when cells that normally line the uterus escape into the abdomen. Her doctor’s solution: a hysterectomy.

She scheduled the procedure, but before she had the operation, she went to see a nutrition expert, who said, “Let’s get rid of all the cheese and other animal-derived foods.”

Katherine decided to give it a try. She started feeling better – a lot better. But there was still pain, so she decided to have the hysterectomy.

When she woke up in the recovery room, Katherine’s surgeon had a surprise for her: He’d discovered that her endometriosis was practically gone. The lingering pain was due to scar tissue, which he removed. He didn’t perform the hysterectomy.

“Well, she went vegan,” Katherine’s mother said. “That’s why she’s better!”

Her doctor wasn’t so sure. “There’s only one explanation for this,” he said. “This is a miracle!”

A PETA supporter rolls a fake wheel of cheese up a ramp
Giving up cheese may seem like a Sisyphean task, but we’re here to tell you it’s not.

Sky-High Levels of Fat and Sodium

Miracle or not, Katherine was well. And her doctor had missed something: Endometriosis is fueled by estrogens, and estrogens are found in some foods – especially dairy foods.

Cows are impregnated every year on dairy farms, and their gestation is about nine months. When they give birth, they start producing milk. Cows make estrogen anyway, but during pregnancy, they make a whole lot more. It goes down the collection tube – and if you consume dairy, you’re swallowing it with every glass of milk, every scoop of ice cream, and every sliver of cheese.

That’s not the only problem with cheese. It’s 70% fat. If it were any worse, it would be Vaseline. And with all the salt added in the cheese factory, cheddar has more sodium ounce per ounce than potato chips!

Crying Out for a Queso Fix

Cheese smells like old socks, but people get hooked on the stuff. Why did Katherine love it so much?

A cow calf in an orange wheelbarrow

The reason is something called casomorphins. Casein, the protein that’s in milk, breaks apart in your digestive tract to release morphine-like chemicals that go to your brain and hook to the very same receptors that morphine or heroin would attach to. The most potent of these chemicals is morphiceptin. It has about one-tenth the brain-binding power of pharmacy-grade morphine. So it’s not strong enough to get you arrested, but it is strong enough to get you hooked.

Break Free – for Cows’ Sake and Yours

We can’t ignore the ethical issues of dairy production. Impregnating a cow doesn’t involve roses and Barry Manilow records. It’s done with artificial insemination. Workers insert an arm into a cow’s rectum and a metal rod to deliver semen into her vagina. These animals are not volunteers; they have no choice. They are going to be impregnated whether they want to be or not. And they bellow at the assault on their bodies.

Nine months later, the mother cow has a calf. And the baby is clumsy and awkward and cute as can be. But the farmworkers say, “Wait a minute – this is a dairy. If the calf drinks the mom’s milk, what are we going to sell?”

Well, every dairy farm has an implement that solves this problem. It’s called a wheelbarrow. They pick up the calf by the chest, plunk them in the wheelbarrow, and carry them away. And the mother cow vehemently objects. She follows and cries out and effectively says, “That is my baby you’re taking away!” But there’s nothing she can do. And this is the way it is on every dairy farm that gave you every piece of cheese you ever ate.

Be Part of It!

Don’t keep this information to yourself. Share it with your family and friends to help them kick the cheese habit! Order a free vegan starter kit.

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