Top Cheese Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/03/22 •  12 min read

What are cheese benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are cheese pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

cheese benefits and side effects

Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on cheese benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about cheese benefits and side effects. This will include cheese benefits for your health and potential risks, cheese water footprint and carbon footprint, sustainability, if cheese is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if cheese is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about cheese benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Top Cheese Benefits And Side Effects

HEALTH

Energy: cheese is bad for / increases the risk of diarrhea, inflammation, migraines | cheese is good for / helps anemia prevention

Longevity: cheese is bad for / increases the risk of antibiotic, diabetes, dioxin and artificial hormone ingestion, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, unhealthy pH levels in body

Appearance: cheese is bad for / increases the risk of bloating, dull completion, flatulence, obesity, skin issues, weight gain, worsening eczema

Cheese is…

  1. Super Easy Vegan Cheese Cookbook: 70 Delicious Plant-Based Cheeses
  2. Super Easy Vegan Cheese Cookbook: 70 Delicious Plant-Based Cheeses
    $16.39

    ★★★★★

    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/15/2022 12:39 pm GMT
  3. This Cheese is Nuts!: Delicious Vegan Cheese at Home
  4. This Cheese is Nuts!: Delicious Vegan Cheese at Home
    $25.00

    ★★★★★

    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/15/2022 08:24 pm GMT
  5. Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious Plant-Based Recipes
  6. Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious Plant-Based Recipes
    $14.99

    ★★★★★

    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/15/2022 11:10 pm GMT
  7. VIOLIFE Just Like Cheddar Shreds, 8 OZ
  8. VIOLIFE Just Like Cheddar Shreds, 8 OZ
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  9. Miyoko's Creamery Classic Double Cream Chive Artisan Vegan Cheese, 6.5 oz
  10. Miyoko's Creamery Classic Double Cream Chive Artisan Vegan Cheese, 6.5 oz
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  11. Field Roast, Chao Vegan Slices Creamy Original, 7 oz
  12. Field Roast, Chao Vegan Slices Creamy Original, 7 oz
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  13. Treeline Vegan Soft Herb and Garlic Cheese, 6 oz
  14. Treeline Vegan Soft Herb and Garlic Cheese, 6 oz
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  15. Kite Hill Garlic and Herb Almond Milk Spreadable Cheese Alternative, 8 Ounces, Dairy Free
  16. Kite Hill Garlic and Herb Almond Milk Spreadable Cheese Alternative, 8 Ounces, Dairy Free
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: moderate, it takes 5,060 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cheese / 606 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cheese

Carbon footprint: high, 13.5 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of cheese, a car driving equivalent of 31 miles or 50 kilometers

Destruction: high, cheese production is relatively destructive, land usage for pasture, grain and forage, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction

Cheese is…

ANIMALS

Kills: in most cases and unless stated otherwise cheese production involves rennet (rennet = the lining of the fourth stomach of young goats, calves and lambs) meaning cheese typically cannot even be considered “vegetarian”

Harms: cows, calves mother cow and calf are distressed due to separation within 24 hours after birth, male calves are slaughtered for veal (dairy industry can only use females), female calves fed artificially, locked in tiny cages, cows genetically modified to grow so obese that many become lame (unable to walk), cows are shocked with electric prods, shackled with chains and dragged, beaten, prods poked up rectums, cows live their last few months in crowded feedlots with hundreds or thousands of others, without pasture, often without shelter, must stand in mud, ice and their own waste, dairy cows are slaughtered for beef once milk production has ended

Indirectly kills or harms: the dairy industry sells “unwanted” male calves to be slaughtered for veal (pregnancy must occur for female cows to lactate and produce milk) habitat contamination (water and soil pollution from animal waste), wildlife habitat destruction (deforestation/land clearing), wolves and coyotes killed to prevent predation on livestock 

Cheese is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Cheese has…

Where does most cheese come from?

In the United States Wisconsin has the most dairy plants (199 dairy product plants). Other leading dairy processing states were New York with 123 plants and California with 114 plants. 

Is cheese nutritious?

Cheese is high in calcium but high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and often contains antibiotics and hormones such as rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) which is a genetically engineered synthetic hormone by Monsanto to increase milk production levels, resulting in cow mastitis infections, ultimately requiring more antibiotics.

What are some cheese substitutes and cheese alternatives?

Use this Dairy Foods + Substitutes List to quickly see alternatives.

cheese is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet to improve ph levels

Is cheese alkaline or acidic? Cheese is acidic. What is the pH level of cheese? Cheese has a 3.0 pH level once digested.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

cheese is gluten free.

gluten free foods and what to eat on a gluten free diet

Is cheese gluten free? Yes, cheese is gluten free. Cheese does not contain gluten. However, processed cheese products such as cheese sauces and spreads may contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

cheese is a common food allergen: milk.

the most common food allergens include milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is cheese a common food allergen? Yes, cheese contains a common food allergen: milk. Many people experience allergic reactions to cheese.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

cheese is a high-fodmap food.

fodmap friendly food

Is cheese FODMAP friendly?

No. Cheese (particularly soft, unripened cheese) is a high-FODMAP food so you should limit or eliminate it while on a low-FODMAP diet. 

A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.

See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Food

cheese has a moderate water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does cheese have a high or low water footprint? Cheese has a moderate water footprint compared to most foods.

What is the water footprint of cheese? It takes 5,060 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cheese / 606 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cheese.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

cheese has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does cheese have a high or low carbon footprint? Cheese has a high carbon footprint compared to most foods.

What is the carbon footprint of cheese? It takes around 13.5 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of cheese, a car driving equivalent of 31 miles or 50 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

cheese is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is cheese eco friendly? Is cheese sustainable?

Cheese production is unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

cheese is not vegan.

vegan food to eat on a vegan diet

Is cheese vegan? No, cheese is not vegan. Cheese is dairy, the byproduct of a cow, goat, or sheep therefore making it an animal-derived food. A mother cow, mother sheep or mother goat’s milk must be used in order to produce cheese. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

cheese has labor issues.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is cheese a product that has known labor issues? At this time, there are reports of worker mistreatment regarding dairy farming.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.

Sources:

Cheese – FoodData Central – USDA

Big Government Cheese (CLASSIC) – NPR

Milk and dairy products: good or bad for human health? – NCBI

Cheese and Healthy Diet: Associations With Incident Cardio-Metabolic Diseases and All-Cause Mortality in the General Population

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

Keep Reading