Morphine / Casein — Maybe I can Avoid Rehab

As you’ve heard me complain about in the past, I miss cow’s milk. For breakfast I have banana/almond butter/protein powder/milk smoothie almost every morning. I use homemade almond milk. I really like the taste. But as an accompaniment to cookies or brownies, or on cereal, I haven’t found anything I prefer over cow’s milk. Recently, we discovered Silk’s Light Chocolate Soymilk and may have found a substitute – well, I’m not sure if it’ll work on cereal, but it works with our desserts. The light stuff has 120 calories per cup, and 1.5 grams of fat, as compared to 200 calories and 5 grams of fat for their “Regular” Chocolate Soymilk.

After 10+ months of eating vegan, we weren’t sure if our taste buds had acclimated, or if the chocolate milk was a good replacement for cow’s milk. We actually had the opportunity to test it on our omni friends who stayed with us for a few days. Well, the verdict is in. The omni’s loved it too, the kids especially, they didn’t know they weren’t drinking “regular” chocolate milk. I’d consider that quite the testimonial.

We’re paying about $3.50 for half a gallon, so it’s a treat, not a daily drink. It’s nice to have in our arsenal of goodies. What we like best about it, aside from the luscious taste of chocolate, is the mouth-feel. The vegan milks tend to be a little “thin.” This beverage is nice and thick, just like the consistency I remember “real” milk having.

Or perhaps it’s the casein in milk (and cheese) which I’m missing. I’ve read that milk/cheese can be more addictive than morphine! According to a 1981 study, Eli Hazum and his colleagues at Wellcome Research Laboratories in Research Triangle Park, NC found:

Cow’s milk-or the milk of any other species, for that matter-contains a protein, called casein, that breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates, called casomorphins.
If you examined a casein molecule under a powerful microscope, it would look like a long chain of beads (the “beads” are amino acids-simple building blocks that combine to make up all the proteins in your body). When you drink a glass of milk or eat a slice of cheese, stomach acid and intestinal bacteria snip the casein molecular chains into casomorphins of various lengths. One of them, a short string made up of just five amino acids, has about one-tenth the pain-killing potency of morphine.

That makes me feel better. After consuming a morphine like drug for 40+ years, at least I can understand why almost a year after quitting, I’m still craving my casein!

If you’re interested, you can read more about the addictive nature of casein and other foods in this VegSource article, or Breaking the Food Seduction by Dr. Neal Barnard.

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