The Cheese Show: Escaping The Cheese Trap with Dr. Neal Barnard, and Karen McAthy on The Art of Plant-based Cheesemaking

April 28, 2017
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This week’s show is all about cheese! emoji-cheese

Everyone seems to have a story about cheese. To start this episode, we speak about our lifelong journeys with cheese, from having grown up with it as children, to eating it every day as an addiction, and then weaning ourselves off as we learned about the health and animal cruelty impacts of our food choices and embarked upon the vegan path. There are a variety of delicious cheeses commercially available to buy these days, but it’s also fun to make your own cheese! We speak about our forays into cruelty-free (vegan) cheese making, and how we thrive as vegans, eating vegan cheese.

Dr. Neal Barnard, MD, The Cheese Trap

cheese-trap_0Our feature interview is with Dr. Neal Barnard. Dr. Barnard is a medical doctor and adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, where he leads programs advocating for preventative medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research.

He has hosted three PBS television programs on nutrition and health, and is frequently called upon by news programs to discuss issues related to nutrition and research. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Nutrition Guide for Clinicians, a textbook made available to all U.S. medical students, and he has authored numerous books on plant-based nutrition, including “The Power of Your Plate”, “Food for Life”, “Dr. Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes”, and “Power Foods for the Brain”. His latest book is entitled “The Cheese Trap”, and we have him on our Cheese Show to speak all about cheese.

In this interview, Dr. Barnard delves with us into the fascinating world of dairy cheese. Did you know that there are 986 calories in 1 cup of melted Cheddar cheese? Pizza is the #1 food addiction in the country, and there is a reason for this (cheese!). Why, thousands of years ago, did humans decide it would be a good idea to drink the milk from pregnant cows (we are the only species that drinks the milk of another species, and into adulthood)? These quandaries, and many more, are discussed in this week’s feature interview.

Cheese is a highly processed product that is concentrated in calories, dairy proteins, saturated fat, and salt, and eating so much of it in North America is not doing us any favours. Dr. Barnard tells us the facts about how these concentrations in cheese can cause many ailments, such as asthma, migraine headaches and arthritis. But not only that, cheese (and dairy itself) is a large contributor to the top killers in North America: diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and Dr. Barnard also gives us details about the whole process that must take place in order for a cow to produce milk (that is then made into cheese). It starts with a brutal artificial insemination process, followed by a 9 month pregnancy, and then the mother cow gives birth and her baby is immediately taken away from her, breaking the mother-infant bond that all animals naturally have. Milk from a cow only comes from a lactating mother, and so the milk meant for the calf is then taken by the dairy industry, to be commercialized into food products (such as cheese) that then make us sick. Doesn’t really make sense, does it?

Dr. Neal Barnard’s new book “The Cheese Trap” also comes with 3 weeks worth of delicious recipes, to replace the dairy, created by vegan cookbook author Dreena Burton. Here is a sample of what you can find in the book:

Karen McAthy, The Art of Plant-based Cheesemaking

plantbased cheesemakingOur first interview is with Vancouver plant-based chef and cheesemaker Karen McAthy. Chef Karen has worked in and around kitchens for the past 17 years, in previous posts as director of food services at W2 Media Arts, executive chef at Graze Vegetarian restaurant, and at Zend Conscious Lounge (also in Vancouver).

Karen left Zend in July 2016 to pursue plant-based cheese making, catering, and teaching classes with her company Blue Heron Creamery. Her new book “The Art of Plant-based Cheesemaking” has just come out, and launches in Vancouver on May 1st! (see here for event details)

In this interview, Karen tells us about her process in plant-based cheesemaking. We learn about how an artful blend of the right ingredients, fermentation, aging and flavouring can produce a variety of delicious cheeses that taste just like their dairy counterparts, if not better!

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