Getting Honest About Why You Don’t Want to Give Up Cheese + Plant Based Smoky Ranch Cheese Ball


Raise your hand if any of the following sentences have ever exited your mouth:

I could never give up my cheese.
I could never give up my meat.
I could never give up my wine.
I could never give up my chocolate.
I could never give up my coffee.

Four of those five statements have floated out of my mouth on more than one occasion, so I can appreciate just how real they feel when we say them. But here’s the thing. These statements aren’t true, they’re just code. You might think it’s your cheese, your meat, your wine and your chocolate, your coffee that you could never possibly give up, but it’s not.

Allow me to rephrase these statements to bring them into focus and more in line with reality.

  • Instead of saying I could never give up my cheese, you could say instead: I’m scared shitless of giving up cheese because it brings me a great deal of comfort. And when I say great deal I mean that I would choose cheese over a romp in the sheets any day of the week.
  • Instead of saying I could never give up my meat, you could say instead:
    Giving up meat means rethinking and unlearning everything I have ever been told about food and eating. And the thought of that is totally overwhelming. I mean, where the fuck would I get my protein!? And if I’m not eating meat then I’m going to be eating more carbs and don’t carbs make you gain weight? Or is it fat I should stay away from? Screw it, I’m already confused, hand me that burger.
  • Instead of saying I could never give up my wine, you could say instead: The thought of quitting drinking paralyzes me with fear and I can’t think of anything more boring and terrible than living my life without drinking. What the hell would I do without drinking and who would I be? How would I unwind from a long day? How would I have fun? What if I can’t stop? What if the people around me keep drinking?
  • Instead of saying I could never give up my chocolate, you could say instead: Chocolate is one of the only things that gives me that burst of feel good. Without it I am fearful of feeling totally deprived. Chocolate gets me through bullshit, stressful times and I rely on it to perk me up and give me a hit of pleasure when nothing else will.
  • Instead of saying I could never give up my coffee, you could say instead: Coffee is the only thing that motivates me to get out of bed in the morning and gives me enough energy to tackle my day. Coffee is the comforting balm that guides my morning routine, and the thought of changing that routine sucks.

Cutting the crap and getting really honest about the reasons we don’t want to give something up brings a great amount of clarity because it gets to the heart of our clinging.

It’s not the cheese, the meat, the wine, the chocolate, or the coffee you’re holding onto, my dear; it’s the feelings that these things provide, paired with the fear that they are helping you avoid.

  • It’s not the cheese you don’t want to give up. It’s the rush of pure ecstasy that the pleasure center of your brain emits when casein-derived morphine-like compounds (casomorphins) in cheese are ingested.
  • It’s not the meat that you don’t want to give up. It’s the personal paradigm shift that scares the hell out of you, and what making that shift would mean for you and the people around you.
  • It’s not the wine that you don’t want to give up. It’s the high you get every time you drink and the anxiety and panic that come up when you think about that feeling going away forever.
  • It’s not the chocolate that you don’t want to give up. It’s that momentary shot of comfort that you rely on every day that comes from the combination of sugar and fat. Even if everything else is gray and yuck, you know that rush of comfort is easily accessible.
  • It’s not the coffee you don’t want to give up, it’s your morning ritual that you don’t want to fuck with. It’s also the fear of making the necessary lifestyle changes in order to have motivation and energy without relying on caffeine.

Finding and accepting the root cause of our clinging is worth it because it starts to peel back the layers and it shows us what we’re really working with. That alone can be eye opening and it might just lead to unexpected changes. One thing that it doesn’t do, is make it any easier to quit the cheese, the meat, the wine, the chocolate, the coffee. Just like quitting any other habit that is no longer serving your beautiful body, it takes dedication and commitment to which there is no secret formula.

In order to stop doing the thing, you have to stop doing the thing. And the longer you go without the thing, the easier it gets. That’s the only formula you’ll ever need.

If you’re not ready to give up the things that don’t serve you, I get it. It took me years and years and years before I was ready to even think about giving up mine. And then I thought about it for years and years and years before I started the process of finally laying them to rest. We all do things at our own pace and in our own time and we must trust our process, even if it doesn’t always make sense.

When you are finally ready to make some changes, know this: we tend to think of our not so good habits as our friends, our comfort blankets, our entertainment, our sturdy rocks, our support system, our relief, our soothing solace, our saving grace, our devoted companion – when really, they are none of these. They are things we do so that we don’t have to face whatever it is we don’t want to face. They keep us stuck. They distract us. They are addictive. They don’t support a healthy body and lifestyle. They might give pleasure, but they zap our joy.

Wherever you’re at on your journey, you’re right where you need to be, my dear. Just make a promise to yourself to always be super honest about why you’re choosing to keep certain things in your life. Give yourself that power.

None of this, I could never give up my cheese bullshit. Because yes, yes you can give up cheese. You just choose not to right now because it’s damn hard and cheese makes you feel good.

So get clear. Get honest. And make your choices from THAT place. Then watch your life start to shift.

Is there something that you’re thinking about giving up and you’re not quite ready yet? Or have you ever given something up that you never thought you would? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Plant Based Smoky Ranch Cheese Ball

Makes one 3 1/2" round Cheese Ball
Author: Molly Patrick


  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews, simmered in water for 10 minutes (195 g / directions below)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • teaspoon black pepper (about 5 turns)
  • teaspoon smoked paprika powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion (discard root end)
  • cup chopped pecans (45 g)


  • Place the cashews in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  • Drain the cashews (discard the soaking water) and rinse with cool water, then drain again. Place the cashews into your food processor, along with the lemon juice, water and vinegar. Process until creamy and smooth, stopping the processor to scrape down the sides as necessary. This will take several minutes. Just keep processing and scraping down the sides until it gets really creamy and smooth.
  • Add the almond flour, nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, dill, black pepper and smoked paprika, then process until completely smooth.
  • Add the parsley and green onion and pulse 4 – 5 times to blend them into the mixture.
  • Line a small bowl with a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover the inside of the bowl and overlap the edges. Scoop the mixture into the lined bowl, then bring the plastic wrap up and over the mixture and twist to close the opening. Use your hands on the outside of the plastic wrap to shape the mixture into a ball. Place the wrapped ball back into the bowl and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  • Once chilled, unwrap the ball and roll it in chopped pecans, pressing the pecans onto the outside of the Cheese Ball so they stick well. Place the Cheese Ball onto your serving plate and store, covered, in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
  • Serve with crackers.


  • An alternative to plastic wrap: wrap in cheesecloth, form the ball, then store in an airtight container per recipe directions.
  • Check out our Plant Based Charcuterie Board Inspiration post for fun ideas on how to use this recipe

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with getting honest.


Get a weekly dose of inspiration to eat more plants and celebrate imperfection

Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Betty on December 14, 2019 at 9:22 am

    5 stars
    Best. Blog. Ever!

    This! Everything about this! I wish everyone would read this, and then go back and Re-read it. Thank you!

    • Molly Patrick on December 14, 2019 at 5:30 pm

      Muah! You the best.

  2. Maggie on December 14, 2019 at 9:23 am

    5 stars
    This cheese ball is my super fave! Can’t wait to make it again for Christmas. ❤️

    • Molly Patrick on December 14, 2019 at 5:31 pm

      Your photographs are so delicious.
      Thank you for sharing your talent with us!

  3. Julie Olsen on December 14, 2019 at 9:23 am

    5 stars
    Yeah!! Now I can share one of my favorite meal plan recipes. My omnivore friends even love this recipe. I made it last year for our Super Bowl Party and my omnivore friend who had it then wanted me to bring it to Thanksgiving. I also just made it for a neighborhood Christmas party and thankfully have a little leftover in the fridge right now. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made it since last Christmas.

    • Molly Patrick on December 14, 2019 at 5:32 pm

      I’m so glad you like it.
      And yes, you may now share away!

  4. Stephanie on December 14, 2019 at 9:29 am

    1 star
    I thought I could never give up my plain, unflavored Greek yogurt. When I cut my consumption and felt much better, it became very easy to give it up completely and I never miss it. I stopped eating nuts due to severe allergic reaction and I miss them every day. There’s a difference in choosing not to eat versus being unable to eat.

    • Luanne Teoh on December 15, 2019 at 6:48 am

      Yes correct. There is a difference in choosing not to eat versus being unable to eat.

      Just like this blog post is about saying you CAN’T give up something instead of NOT wanting to give it up.

      Apples and oranges 🙂

  5. Mary Ann Scanlon on December 14, 2019 at 9:43 am

    The one thing I’ve learned in this life is to never say never. (I made this last Christmas and even my in laws liked it. So good!)

  6. lisa on December 14, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Yeah. I’m struggling with fucking cheese and those damn caso-morphines. And I’m not even ready to think about giving up chocolate! Ugh. But I’m working on cheese. And even though I know vegan cheese is not a long term solution I’m going to use it as a stepping stone to a dairy free life. Sigh. Thanks for being real and honest. I love honesty, even when it hurts, bacause it really does set us free.

    • Ronnie on December 14, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      My vegan cheese is going in the bin…never again…just do without.

    • Molly Patrick on December 14, 2019 at 5:34 pm

      Hi Lisa,
      Don’t rush yourself, my dear.
      You will know when it’s time.
      Trust me, there are a LOT of other things that are WAY worse than some vegan cheese from time to time.
      Lots of love headed your way.

  7. Anne on December 14, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Great blog! I just finished tapering off benzos. With the yumy cashew “cheeses” in the mealplan, I don’t miss cheese. Giving up wine, chocolate, and coffee? Not yet.

    • Molly Patrick on December 14, 2019 at 5:35 pm

      lol – I fully understand.
      It’s a process.
      You have to listen to your body and do things in your own time.

  8. Georgina on December 14, 2019 at 11:19 am

    5 stars
    Will be making the cheeseball for Xmas day, thanks! I never thought I’d ever give up meat, dairy and eggs. I drank so much cows milk and loved cream. A meal without meat wasn’t really a meal. Nearly two years mostly WFPB. I’m 60 and my body is in better shape than when I was 50. I can’t imagine ever going back to the old WoE. I LOVE the meal plans and I LOVE food even more now! I drink a couple of black coffees each morning and no plans to stop at this point. The blog is a good reminder of why we eat/drink certain things. Thanks

    • Molly Patrick on December 14, 2019 at 5:42 pm

      Good for you, Georgina!
      Isn’t it the best feeling when we are able to surprise ourself and do things that we never thought we could do?!
      Thank you so much for sharing.
      So many high fives.

  9. Pauline Dunlop on December 14, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    I really miss liking cheese but more than that, I REALLY miss mac cheese.
    I’ve tried various recipes but they all contain nutritional yeast. I really really really don’t like that.
    Please tell me you know of a tasty dairy free cheese sauce that excludes NY xx

    • Molly Patrick on December 14, 2019 at 5:45 pm

      Hey Pauline,
      I would try this one and leave out the nooch! It’s really yummy and the nutritional yeast doesn’t play a key role in the flavor.

      • Pauline Dunlop on December 15, 2019 at 7:00 am

        Thanks Molly x

    • Kathy on February 13, 2020 at 11:44 am

      I don’t like it either. Sometimes I add in some miso for a bit of that flavor profile. I want to taste unfortified nutritional yeast, maybe it’s better.

  10. Laura on December 14, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    I’m a former, pack-a-day smoker (16 yrs) and I made the decision to quit on Jan 1. I distinctly remember every carton that I purchased was my last but when I would get down to that last pack, I would get this horrible knot in my stomach. I would cave, buy another carton, and start all over again. This went on for months and then, in October, I went on a 2 week tour of Italy with my Mom (a smoker) and decided that’s when I would quit – I was out of my routine and that would make it easier, right? I remember having a major anxiety attack at the airport (never had one of those before) and found a massage place to help me thru it. Everyone in our tour group was a non-smoker, except my Mom. I do remember being a bit snarky with her at times but I did return home smoke-free and never looked back. Plus, it was amazing to have my boyfriend (now husband) cheering me on at every daily, weekly, monthly, yearly milestone. Yes, there were physical cravings but I also remember that there were times that I just involuntarily reached for a cigarette…and realized it was a habit. I didn’t want a cigarette, it’s just that I kept a pack and lighter just to the right of my computer mouse and my hand would just go there. The first time I did that and there was no pack for my hand to land on was my biggest “aha” moment. Others followed when I realized they were just habits…some out of pure boredom. Was it hard? HELL YEAH!!! Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. So my next waterloo is alcohol, specifically wine. Like cigarettes, I finish a bottle with no plans of buying another, then I cave. I’ve been reading more about quitting, talking more and now putting the words on paper. I’ve joined LU and am now away from home for 4 months so I think it would be a great opportunity to change some habits!

    • Heather Brasel on December 18, 2019 at 7:01 am

      The book “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace is a great resource to stop drinking. Based on what you’ve said, I think you’d really respond to her approach and info. Great job quitting smoking, best of luck tackling the booze!

      • Mike on February 7, 2020 at 11:47 am

        I second that – “This Naked Mind” helped me completely change my drinking habit. I recommend it all the time.

  11. Josie on December 14, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    I loved this blog! My first year of university I was in residence and there was very little cheese in my life. I went home at Christmas and just devoured cheese. I didn’t think I could ever live without it. Fast forward 40 years and some higher than normal cholesterol and blood pressure numbers and I needed to cut out saturated fats and reduce my sodium intake. I was surprised by how much sodium was in most cheese. I cut out cheese for the most part and don’t really miss it. But I’m always looking for a recipe that will substitute for the cheese recipes that I used to eat. Will definitely try this!

  12. Stacy on December 14, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Well, Dementors though. So there’s that. Although that might be considered a medicinal use of chocolate, right?

  13. Jackie on December 15, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Thanks, Molly! Will definitely be making this. Years ago, I struggled with quitting cheese. Then I read The Cheese Trap. That did it for me. The effect of discovering staggering information about the cheese industry in that book far surpassed my craving for cheese. Now if I get near it, it smells exactly like what it really is – the same bacteria found in stinky feet.

  14. Anna on December 15, 2019 at 9:12 am

    5 stars
    Yeah, I know how difficult it is to give up dairy, especially cheese. I had tried so many times, but in the end, I always went back to it. Today I’m very interested in a plant-based diet because of its advantages to health, our planet, and, of course, because of tortured animals… So I try to avoid animal products but it’s still a real challenge.
    Thank you for your work, Molly! I appreciate you sharing these delicious recipes and your opinion. It’s really helpful on my path.

  15. Sarah Moravetz on December 15, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Can this be made ahead and frozen? Looks delicious!!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on December 16, 2019 at 9:32 am

      Hi Sarah, Yep! The cheese ball should freeze well. ~Karen

  16. Kim DiRaffaele on December 18, 2019 at 1:24 am

    Can you recommend a substitute for the almond flour? How about oat or coconut or garbanzo bean flour?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on December 18, 2019 at 5:57 am

      Hi Kim! Our substitution guide recommends oat flour as a sub for almond flour. I did a search of our Facebook group and coconut flour is not recommended because it absorbs way more liquid than almond flour. Garbanzo flour has a strong flavor and needs to be cooked (just like you would not eat uncooked beans, ground uncooked beans are the same). ~Karen

  17. Laura Walker on December 19, 2019 at 7:45 am

    I absolutely LOVE this blog post! I have given up several things at this point in my life (over many years) and I can sincerely say that my successes all came from a place of brutal honesty. Life is not about being perfect – it is about being honestly imperfect…recognizing our faults so that we can deal with them when we are ready. I have to say, a year ago (heck…6 months ago) I would not have guessed that I would be wfpb, almost 3 months in. It wasn’t something I was expecting to do, but when I reflect on it, I had been preparing myself for quite awhile. This post definitely explains a lot of what I went through (especially with smoking). Coffee is next…soon, but don’t know what minute exactly. The “creamer” is gone already. I was choosing “full fat” oat milk as a substitute to mimic my beloved half and half. I’m down to regular oat milk with no oil in it…so I’m on my way… When it is time, I will leave it on the path and keep walking… xoxo

  18. Kelley Zanone on December 24, 2019 at 9:08 am

    This really spoke to me, great blog post!!!!

    When you are finally ready to make some changes, know this: we tend to think of our not so good habits as our friends, our comfort blankets, our entertainment, our sturdy rocks, our support system, our relief, our soothing solace, our saving grace, our devoted companion – when really, they are none of these. They are things we do so that we don’t have to face whatever it is we don’t want to face. They keep us stuck. They distract us. They are addictive. They don’t support a healthy body and lifestyle. They might give pleasure, but they zap our joy.

    • Molly Patrick on December 25, 2019 at 10:38 pm

      So glad this spoke to you, Kelley.

  19. Menopause Symptoms on January 8, 2020 at 10:34 am

    I admire this recipe! And does it really taste like cheese ??? I would never have thought that it is possible to make something, not from cheese and get a cheese taste! I think this is a great snack, that will suit both – the everyday and the festive table. You can surprise anyone with such a “cheese” snack, and I must definitely try to cook it. Despite the fact that I am not going to give up cheese, this recipe surprised me very much and aroused the desire to try them) Thanks to the author for an interesting recipe! I go to cook it right now))

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on January 8, 2020 at 11:42 am

      Thanks for stopping by – I haven’t had real cheese in a long time but this cheese ball was a super hit with family who do eat cheese so I would say it does a really good job of bringing cheesiness and flavor as a party appetizer. Let us know what you think if you try it! ~Karen

  20. Samantha Farrugia on August 13, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Hiii!! Wwondering if theres a sub for almond flour other then oat flour? would whole wheat or brown rice be suitable? THANKS!!!!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on August 14, 2020 at 10:17 am

      Hi Samantha – I would go with another nut-based flour. You could even grind nuts or seeds that you have. I guess you could use wheat flour but because this recipe is raw, from a food safety standpoint, you really want to pasteurize the flour before using it by cooking it to 165 degrees F (in a microwave or oven). Same pasteurization consideration for brown rice flour. ~Karen

  21. mackenzie on September 6, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    Could you comment on what the serving size is & how many servings this makes?! Thanks!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on September 6, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      Hi there, Mackenzie! It will depend on how much each person eats and how you’re serving the cheese ball, but generally, one recipe of this size will do for an appetizer or snack for about 4 people. Feel free to double or halve if it makes sense for your purposes. You do you! Xo

  22. Crystal Rose on February 8, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    I like what you said but I don’t think it needs to be all or nothing. I like coffee. I like the taste. It has nothing to do with caffeine, which is why I’m drinking decaf now.

    Is that wrong? I would say no because it works for me.

    I think you’re right about food having more meaning than we think of sometimes. I just think it’s up to each person to determine their own path and draw those lines for themselves.

  23. Kasie Lynn Carlson on December 9, 2021 at 10:30 am

    5 stars
    Oh where do I begin on what I “never” thought I could give up? When I was diagnosed with Lupus, nearly 20 years ago, I was slightly over weight and in so much pain. I’m a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and I knew that I had to give up gluten in order to feel better. I lived on bread, pasta and ramen noodles! I mean, it’s all I ate. I’ve now been gluten free for over 10 years. When dairy started to bother some of my symptoms a few years back, I started to try cutting it out. It was nearly impossible at first and now, it’s EASY, thanks to recipes just like this! I’m now turning 47 in two weeks and I have no symptoms of lupus, at all and I take no meds! I know this due to my healthy eating habits, good food can and does reverse disease and I am living proof! Thanks for your hilarious write ups and for all of the wonderful recipes!

  24. Nanette Rasband Hilton on December 18, 2021 at 10:22 pm

    5 stars
    Straight up winner! Omnis didn’t even know it wasn’t dairy! Gone in a split second at a big party of even geeky scientists mixed with us humanities nerds. Enjoy!

    • Nanette Rasband Hilton on December 18, 2021 at 10:27 pm

      Ah—jump to recipe cuz blog post is explicit & rude (didn’t realize this bf sharing with friends OPPS! apologies!!)

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