Vegetarianism has become mainstream. I can’t recall visiting a restaurant in the United States in the last decade that didn’t offer something for vegetarians. On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty that didn’t have a single vegan option.
In terms of diet, the difference between vegetarians and vegans is that vegetarians don’t eat animal flesh, while still consuming dairy products. Vegans don’t eat any animal products including milk, cheese and eggs.
But when you think about it, going vegetarian is like 85% of the way to vegan. You’ve already given up eating meat. All you need to do is eliminate the other animal-derived ingredients.
So why is it so hard?
Dairy is addictive.
When casein, the milk protein found in cheese breaks down, it releases opiates called casomorphins. Attaching to the opiate receptors in your brain, these mind-altering chemicals not only cause your body to actually crave cheese, but also experience withdrawal from it. This is a big reason why so many people say that cheese is the only thing that keeps them from going vegan.
If you’re looking to make the transition from vegetarian to vegan, and you’re having a hard time giving up dairy products, there are ways to handle it.