Photo by Michael Competielle

Ew Your Cheese Smells Like Feet

How Removing Dairy From My Diet Changed My Sense of Smell

For most of my life cheese has been an important staple in my diet. Breakfasts often consisted of a smear of cream cheese on a bagel or an egg omelet with melted cheese. For lunch I’d love a sub sandwich with cold cuts and thinly sliced deli cheeses. Swiss, American, Provolone and Fresh Mozzarellas we’re regulars.

Evenings my wife and I would share with our slightly overweight dogs blocks of Champagne Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, Swiss and Colby Jack. For dinner we would have blends of mozzarella, parmigiana and ricotta mixed with pasta. Ravioli, Tortellini and Cavatelli with homemade sauce and sprinkled with Pecorino Romano was a weekly tradition.

Friday nights we would feast on nachos grande sprinkled with a four cheese taco blend or a large Brooklyn pizza pie. Desserts we would treat ourselves to ice cream, gelato and cheesecake.

We ate cheese daily and the chances were slim to none we could ever give up our love of fromage.

It is little over a year ago until I watched and my wife heard from our kitchen a rather disturbing video from Erin Janus on the dairy industry.

Warning:

The content in this video highlights the Dairy industry in a graphic matter and the content is unsettling. Immediately upon watching this film I had vowed to never consciously consume dairy products again. If you love your ice cream or cheese I highly suggest you pass on this video and watch some cheesy feel good videos. You’ve been warned.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Years ago while in my late teens I spent a summer in Otsego County in Upstate New York. With charming villages nestled along the 70 mile long Unadilla River and large expanses of forest the area was a perfect location to just get away. Driving up the old single lane country highways I’d pass dairy farms and cattle farms often populated with hundreds of baby calves chained to small white huts. After only a few short days I began to learn these calves, often males as they were unable to become “dairy cows” were kept in close quarters to keep their meat tender as they would soon become what we know as veal.

Veal is the meat of calves, in contrast to the beef from older cattle. Veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed; however, most veal comes from young males of dairy breeds which are not used for breeding. Generally, veal is more expensive than beef from older cattle.

Wikipedia

Since that time I’ve only once (and only mistakenly) eaten veal. With such harsh living conditions and without any quality of life I refused to make veal a part of my diet.

Upstate NY was a perfect place to pick up the occasional odd job often helping farmers with haying, fence repair or working as a farm hand. Working for slightly more than gas and cigarette money, I’d work a 9 or 10 hour day at various farms. I became friendly with a family of dairy farmers, 3 high school aged boys who’s father had passed away. Afternoons and evenings I’d head on over to help relieve the boys from the 8 days a week job of running a farm.

Armed with my horse farm work experience I helped herd the heifers and female cows across the busy street into the dairy barn. Cleaning stalls, feeding and watering was my specialty as the brothers would proceed with the milking process. Tubing ran inside the barn to the milk room that contained huge stainless steel tanks of freshly pumped raw milk. Every other day the affiliated processor would send trucks to pump out these tanks. An evening treat would be a small cup full of the freshly pumped milk.

For many years I consumed milk based products with pride feeling that the dairy industry was generally wholesome. I’m uncertain at that time if these farms would have been considered organic and free range as I’m doubtful those were everyday terms of those times. I ignorantly assumed dairy cows consistently produced milk in a natural and pure way. It wasn’t until I had watched Erin’s 5 minute video did I learn the truth.

Weening myself off of dairy products wasn’t as difficult as I assumed it would be. For years I was using Almond Milk in my coffee so the challenges would be cheese, butter and cheese.

Oh how I love cheese.

Photo by Michael Competielle

My wife and I quit cheese cold turkey (oh we quit turkey too and all other meats and fish on one fell swoop). Having heard that the non-dairy or Vegan cheeses were quite simply gross, we built a revised diet around rices, beans, grains, fruits and veggies as we boycotted anything remotely similar to meat and dairy products.

Watching scores of YouTube videos and reading hundreds of webpage articles we gradually began to reintroduce and consume Vegan cheeses and pseudo meats. Our first Vegan pizza was simply delicious as we devoured the entire thin crust brick-fired pizza with plant based cheese.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Our son who only occasionally makes the Vegan switch claimed the nondairy cheeses weren’t horrible as he helped us devour vegan pizza. With plant-based diary items gaining a massive growth spurt the availability of ice creams and cheeses has increased.

Walking thru our local high end supermarket we try our best to avoid the cheese aisle. The aged and moldy smell that reminds me of old gym shoes reminds me of the horrors I saw in the above video.

Our collective efforts to remove dairy, meat and fish has been a success as we recently celebrated our one year anniversary being on a plant based diet we look where we stand and feeling complacent about our stance while happy to have made the transition.

Oh and your cheese, it smells.

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