with Lynne and Leslie

Seeing less of cheese: My backwards glancing sliding sorta into some sort of vegan thing

by SweetMidlife
This is what happens when you have a little less cheese and work out a lot.

This is what happens when you have a little less cheese and work out a lot.

I am Leslie and cheese is my boyfriend. Even when my husband and sweet schmoopy love of my life was alive, he knew that cheese was my illicit habit, my thing that I could not get enough of (besides my husband, of course.) He actually gave me gifts of cheese, sometimes a good brie, other times a gorgeous feta from a Greek importer. I was raised mostly vegetarian, and as I stopped completely eating chicken and other poultry, I claimed cheese as my primary protein besides the fish I maybe ate once a week. Cheese? Ate at least once a day. Sometimes once a meal. My mother once told a friend that her kids’ favorite food groups were potatoes and cheese.

Mommy was not lying.

So it was with much resistance that I took in a suggestion from my trainer, Victor Ayala, who had tortured worked me into a weight loss of 12 pounds and at least one dress size: “You’d lose more,” he said, in that way that forces you to not rest on your laurels too much, “if you cut our meat..”

“I don’t really eat meat,” I said.

“My dear,” Victor said, eyebrow skyward, “cheese is meat.”

Well, heck.

Vegan cheese makes a good casserole. Next time needs more onions and cheese. No! Not cheese! Stupid, stupid!

Vegan cheese makes a good casserole. Next time needs more onions and cheese. No! Not cheese! Stupid, stupid!

Although my beloved fromage is not technically the flesh of a living thing, it is an animal product and can cause inflammation (It’s also a thing to avoid if you’re about to sing, as I am wont to do.) When I was clean eating two years ago, I limited myself once a week or so to only the best quality cheese, but when our little one came to live with us, all that went out the window. Cheese became my crutch again. But between Victor and my beloved almost-sister Rissa, a longtime vegan who has sent me several vegan cookbooks and recipes a month since last summer, I feel I’m a crossroads.

Which is not to say that I am about to become vegan, because I am not and I really don’t want to. I am not going to just say I will never sample an exquisite brie or sprinkle aged Parmesan Reggiano on a perfect tomato soup, because I AM GONNA. But I want to explore playing with it, cutting back and seeing what new cooking adventures await me. This will upset real vegans who have ethical reasons for their lifestyle, like I’m dabbling and being disrespectful. But it’s where I’m at.

Cheeseless pesto. It is a thing.

Cheeseless pesto. It is a thing.

So far, I’ve adapted some recipes, some of which were already vegan and some which just included stuff I didn’t have. I did a vegan tomato bisque, a vegan cauliflower casserole and, most deliciously, vegan pesto with cashews, which creamily take the role of both traditional pine nuts and the cheese. A year ago I would have told you the point of pesto was cheese. I still think it might be.

The point is, I am learning. I am growing. I am not breaking up with cheese. But we are agreeing to see a little less of each other.


7 Responses to “Seeing less of cheese: My backwards glancing sliding sorta into some sort of vegan thing”

  1. tate_franz@comcast.net' Thaeda says:

    My middle child is 20 and has inspired me to eat in a way that makes me feel good– even if it is not what I WANT in the moment. If I ate what I wanted, I would live on mac & cheese, butter, donuts, and cake. 🙂 Over time I have “dieted” and then found that for every diet there is an equal and opposite binge. I decided that is not how I want to live. My daughter has learned to pay attention to how her body feels after she eats something. She found that foods she really loved often didn’t make her feel very good, and has since decided to avoid feeling bad by eating mostly what feels good. She has lost a lot of weight and feels awesome- without “dieting”. I am practicing doing the same. Sure, I love donuts and cake and fried chicken- but I feel like crap after I eat them- so these days, I am learning to choose veggies more often and to avoid sugar like the plague. I do better some days than others, but it feels good to feel good. 🙂 Wishing you the best on your journey!

  2. SweetMidlife says:

    Thank you! I also have a beautiful new airy kitchen and it makes me want to cook more. And I went to Trader Joe’s and went a little crazy. Good for your daughter!
    SweetMidlife recently posted…Seeing less of cheese: My backwards glancing sliding sorta into some sort of vegan thingMy Profile

  3. mrs.aok05@gmail.com' Mrs. AOK says:

    It’s hard to step away from cheese. I’ve done it myself, but I usually find myself back for more. Cheese and I have an Ike and Tina relationship, when it’s good it’s GOOOD, but man! it can get bad.
    Wishing you all the best.
    XOXO
    Mrs. AOK recently posted…Mommy Monday Blog Hop 191My Profile

  4. SweetMidlife says:

    Cheese is not a good boyfriend. But boy can he kiss.
    SweetMidlife recently posted…Seeing less of cheese: My backwards glancing sliding sorta into some sort of vegan thingMy Profile

  5. I think that sounds like a plan! When you have a beloved food but you only eat it occasionally, it tastes that much better when you do. (We’ve recently been eating way more veggies and less carbs, meat, and dairy just to be healthy too.)
    Jenny @ Unremarkable Files recently posted…A Mother’s Love Letter to St. Patrick’s DayMy Profile

  6. balancephotography@gmail.com' Rissa says:

    Leslie – Very proud of you for moving away from foods that don’t support your health or that of your loved ones! It’s a step to being a stronger, better, healthier you. Anything I can do, let me know. And to all those who think you can “never” give up any food – it’s not true. And going back to it often makes you feel so awful, it’s not even tempting anymore. That said, I still love tater tots. But I only eat them a few times a year. xoxox
    Rissa recently posted…JanuaryMy Profile

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