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Gwyneth Paltrow has a point

| Wednesday, February 10, 2021

To be frank, the Venn diagram of those who ask for oat or almond milk in their iced coffee from Starbucks and those who will eat an entire wheel of baked brie off of a charcuterie board looks like a circle. To be fair, I live in this intersection, alongside all of my roommates and most of the people I’ve met who have self-diagnosed as lactose intolerant.

Our fridge holds an impressive selection of dairy alternatives, derived from almonds, coconuts, oats, soybeans and vegan pea protein. Open the crisper, however, and you’ll find a fromagerie of 100% real cheese.

To be clear, this inside column is not pro- or anti-dairy. Environmental, ethical and economic arguments aside, I’m just exploring my options and recognizing a common trend. Who among us hasn’t sipped a cup of coffee with almond milk for breakfast and then asked for extra cheese on our burrito bowl for lunch?

Almost everyone I know who has broken up with dairy comes down very hard on their stance regarding milk and coffee creamers — they’re easily substituted with a variety of nut and plant-based alternatives that actually taste good.

As an impressionable person who once read online that cutting out dairy would solve all my problems (prom was coming up, and I had a zit that the internet convinced me was from eating milk with my cereal), I ran the experiment. I dumped milk and started dating different dairy alternatives, and I’ve been in a committed relationship with Ripple products for a couple years now.

And all this time, I’ve harbored tender feelings for the varying cheeses that have wandered into my life. I’ve never been able to settle for vegan cheeses, mostly made from plant-based materials that have no business trying to impersonate the original. If real cheese is bad, then I don’t want to be good.

Here’s an important point we’ve landed on: Maybe the biggest reason that the alt dairy community still hasn’t let go of real cheese is that the alternative tastes nothing like cheese, or even a decent imitation. Simply, vegan cheese is bad. “Friends don’t let friends eat vegan cheese.”

If we can’t turn to plant-based cheese the same way we fell in love with alternative milk and creamer, maybe it’s all about finding balance.

“I use organic products, but I get [laser treatments],” Gwyneth Paltrow once said. “It’s what makes life interesting, finding the balance between cigarettes and tofu.”

The best thing Gwyneth Paltrow has done for me personally is perform the iconic role of Holly Holiday. However, this super strange soundbite that she shared with a women’s magazine is a very close second, and might just be the conclusion I land on in this personal dilemma.

Gwyneth strokes her organically lasered brow and eats her tofu with a Marlboro Light dangling between manicured fingers; I take oat milk in my coffee and eat sliced American cheese straight out of the bag. We exist.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Maeve Filbin

Maeve is a senior studying political science and economics at Saint Mary's, as well as Journalism, Ethics and Democracy at Notre Dame. She serves as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Observer, and thinks everyone should support student journalism.

Contact Maeve