It's no secret that I abhor Daiya and all the other "self-promoted as healthy" faux cheeses. Hell, I even wrote an appendix in my book devoted to detailing the FAT content of these nutritiously vapid and expensive taste addictive quasi-food substances (here's some of my previous posts: 1, 2, 3, Rip Esselstyn on "Daiya"). One of the reasons I wrote my book was to promote alternatives to this fatty junk food. I spent near SIX years devising heart healthy cheese-like sauces with NO OIL. Here's a summary of 15 Reasons to Avoid Added Oil as a refresher for those not aware of my thoughts on the matter. BTW: some processed fake cheese products contain as much fat per serving as whole milk mozzarella.
Anyway, I've been remiss in doing my duty on this blog in responding to comments. Publishing a book, the self-marketing, my injury, preparing for AR2013, it's been exhaustive and I regret not being able to punch it out as much as I used to (oh, and I'm supposed to be "nicer" and less critical these days...). The following comment, verbatim (I did indent it) hit me hard emotionally and conceptually. I've been sitting on it for awhile to when I could properly focus on what this woman wrote about "Daiya Cheese" and how her words should resonate in the vegan community. I'll have more to say about this after her words. Here's what she wrote, unedited (I did "bold" a few lines):
"Hi, Mark -- just wanted to chime in with my own experience with Daiya. I've been a Vegan for nearly 25 years now but over a year ago I saw Daiya in my health food store and thought I'd give it a chance. My first reaction to it was that cold out of the package it looked, smelled, and tasted like stale, sweaty shoelaces. But, what the hell, it melted great and tasted better hot, so me and my family ate it for about a year. We used it in all kinds of recipes that harkened back to our pre-Vegan days--pizza, tacos, heck just about anything that called for cheese in the recipe.
After about six months of after eating the stuff pretty regularly, I felt ... weird. You know the old joke people would say about eating a heavily cheesed pizza? The old "Man, I can feel my arteries hardening as I eat this!" Well, it was like that. Exactly like that. It actually felt like my arteries were clogging up and shrinking with each bite I took. Silly me (by then addicted to the gooey matter), I ignored the feeling and kept right on eating the stuff. I thought, surely there can't be anything wrong with it ... it's not like it's real cheese. Six more months passed and in that time I noticed that I was getting indigestion almost every day when I rarely ever got it before.
One day, I was surprised to step on the weighing scale and discover that I was twenty-five pounds heavier. Strangely, I didn't look it, but I was. Let me just say here that I'm in good health and exercise regularly, but one night I went to lie down in my bed and got the whopper of all chest pains--something I've never experienced in my life. I really thought I was going to die. Right away my subconscious was telling me it was the Daiya. It just had to be. There were no other changed factors in my life that could have accounted for it.
Naturally, I cut out eating the stuff immediately, for my health and my family's health. I returned the unopened packages we had to the store. I've been off the stuff for several months now and my heart feels normal, my arteries clear. We all feel better, lighter inside. Never again will I do something as stupid as get a "so-called" health product that claims to be a substitute for a non-Vegan item. There are too many other things to eat out there without needing something that looks like cheese or whatever else.
If me and my family had been Vegan all our lives (we wish!) we would never have encountered something like cheese in the first place, so why try to copy it? If you're Vegan, just be thankful you are because it's a health choice as well as a moral one. I think it's wrong the way this Daiya product is marketed like it's actually healthy. It's junk food, pure and simple. Nothing but saturated fat, gooey and totally unnatural. It just clogs up your insides and screws with your digestive process making you feel heavy and sluggish. Daiya, meanwhile, is laughing all the way to the bank at all the people they have suckered in with their inedible product. If you feel any of the feelings I've described at any time while eating this goop, do yourself a favor and quit the addiction. You'll live a longer and healthier life and you will save hundreds of dollars a year from not buying this very expensive, unhealthy crap. But why wait until it's too late?"
Her words touched me, and elucidated what I've felt all along. I recently visited the Daiya website, noting that they spend more time discussing what they DO NOT have in their products than they do. Here's what's in the Cheddar Cheese. Recognize any Whole Foods in this description?
"Filtered Water, Tapioca Starch, Palm Fruit Oil, Expeller Pressed non GMO Canola Oil and/or Expeller Pressed non GMO Safflower Oil, Coconut Oil, Pea Protein Isolate, Natural Vegan Flavors, Vegetable Glycerine, Brown Rice Syrup, Sea Salt, Yeast Extract, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid (Vegan, for flavor), Annatto (for color) Carrageenan, Titanium Dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral), Vegan Enzyme."
And yes, the bastards are still using Palm Fruit Oil, which is heinous not only from the saturated fat content, but social issues (threatening the existence of Oranguatans).
Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn and Ornish have REVERSED heart disease, the number one killer of people in the world, through a NO-added oil plant-based diet. Dr. Barnard has done the same with Type II Diabetes. Drs. T. Colin Campbell and John McDougall say to avoid added free oils. The evidence is in. These fake cheeses merely drain your pockets, foment your taste addiction to fat, are nutritionally useless, and help bring about so many degenerative diseases in your later years. These nutritional experts all note that "moderation kills." As does "free oil", Daiya kills.
It might help the animals to not ingest dairy cheese, but you eat this stuff, and you're not helping yourself in the long run. Just because it's "vegan" doesn't mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that it's healthy.
How disappointing, in thinking about it all, that a major Veg magazine was recently so proud to announce that they were awarding someone at random, "A Month's Supply of Daiya Cheese" in celebration of a Facebook "like" threshold. "Hey, here's a month's worth of fat-ladden, nutritionally useless, cheese-like stuff for you to eat and enjoy. Lucky you!"
Maybe this attitude and apparent nutritional ignorance helps explains why, after a year of having the copies I've sent them, they still haven't done a published review of the "1st Vegan Pizza Cookbook." Perhaps their sponsors weren't enthused by the concept of heart healthy pizza made with whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables."