The dairy industry is wreaking havoc on the environment. Dairy cows create greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. According to an article on worldofvegan.com by Michelle Cehn, “dairy cows are fed diets that consist primarily of alfalfa, corn, and soy. To grow these crops and create more grazing land, rainforests are being decimated and converted into farmland.” The main way to help prevent this devastation of the environment is to stop supporting the dairy industry by choosing plant-based milk and cheese.
There are many non-dairy cheese products on the market. People can find different types of cream cheese, sliced cheese, and shredded cheese from many brands in many flavors. Cheese companies have gotten their products extraordinarily close to the real thing in both texture and flavor. One of the most innovative non-dairy companies leading the way in the industry is Miyoko’s Creamery.
Miyoko’s makes delicious fancy cheeses in gourmet flavors but what really distinguishes them is what they are doing for both people and animals. Miyoko’s is always experimenting with new products and is also running their Wine Country 2.0 Campaign as well as a farm sanctuary called Rancho Compasión. According to the article A Mission in Search of a Company by Neil Zevnik, Miyoko Schinner stated that, “The world of cheese opened up once we learned how to ferment nuts, seeds, and legumes; turn them into cheese; and get them to melt, and act and taste like dairy products.”
According to an article from The Environmental Magazine called Just like cheese? Avoiding ‘addiction’ with dairy-free alternatives by Vartan S, Amy Lanou, the senior nutrition scientist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, stated that, “Cheese is a concentrate of protein and fat, and casein is a type of protein found naturally in milk. Caseins convert to casomorphines, which are chemically similar to morphine, when they break down during digestion. It’s these casomorphines that are addictive.” Miyoko’s cheese offers the delicious taste of cheese without this addictive component.
Their cheese is also healthier in other ways. According to registered dietician Sharon Palmer, “Miyoko’s cheeses can be lower in saturated fat and sodium than many traditional dairy cheeses. They also have zero cholesterol, and dairy cheeses are a source of cholesterol. They are also part of traditional plant-based diets, which are overall linked with health benefits. Eating vegan diets has been linked with reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Many people are intolerant of dairy products, such as cheese, and dietary intolerances are linked with inflammation.”
Miyoko’s currently offer many flavors of cheese wheels, different kinds of butter, mozzarella, cream cheese, and roadhouse spreads. Miyoko’s uses traditional dairy cultures combined with vegan ingredients to make vegan cheese that tastes just like traditional dairy cheese.
The innovative company continues to experiment with new ways of making cheese. One new product that they have just released is their liquid mozzarella cheese that can be easily used to make pizza. They are also currently looking into the use of watermelon seeds to produce cheese according to Miyoko’s COO René Weber. Miyoko stated, “I love the opportunity to inspire passion for everything that food brings-conviviality, heart, conversation, and the ability to impact the world positively” according to Zevnik.
Besides their continuing innovation in the world of vegan cheese, Miyoko’s is reaching people with her message of sustainable eating in a different way. Miyoko’s is currently running what they call their ‘Wine Country 2.0 Campaign.’ Alison Kilmer is heading Wine Country 2.0 and describes that their mindset “is to really push a more compassionate and sustainable experience here for people visiting [Sonoma County].”
The Wine Country 2.0 Campaign involves Miyoko’s partnering with many local wineries, restaurants, and other businesses in Sonoma County. Their aim is to bring a vegan wine and food experience to people who live in Sonoma County or who visit there.
One main goal for the Wine Country 2.0 Campaign is to support local, sustainable, vegan wine. Many people don’t know that wine can be non-vegan. According to an article from Chemistry in Australia called Vegan-friendly wines by Geoffrey Scollary, “In current winemaking practice, processing aids include gelatine, sourced from either bovine or porcine collagen, isinglass, sourced from fish swim bladder, egg white, and milk; either fresh or powdered casein.” Scollary explained that, “Plant proteins, as potential replacements for animal proteins, had a slow start in establishing their potential for use in winemaking, however, over the last 20 or so years, there has been extensive work on their suitability in both red and white winemaking.”
According to an article called Phenolic Composition Influences the Effectiveness of Fining Agents in Vegan-Friendly Red Wine Production by Susana Rio Segade, “The use of fining agents in winemaking is widely known as a processing aid to clarify, enhance the wine stability, remove off-flavors, and, particularly in red wines, soften sensory properties such as bitterness and astringency by modulating phenolic composition. Traditional fining agents based on proteins of animal origin, including casein, egg albumin, gelatin, and isinglass, are commonly used to remove protein-reactive phenoli compounds.” Vegan wine making techniques either use no fining agents or vegan fining agent such as clay.
Miyoko’s Wine Country 2.0 Campaign aims to bring attention to wines that are made with vegan techniques. The businesses that they are partnering with will feature Miyoko’s cheese at their wineries and events where people can have a fully vegan wine and food experience. Rob Busson, tasting room manager at Three Sticks Wines, explained that “we were one of the first members to be part of Wine Country 2.0. We are doing a big wine club event called Destination Durrel. Durrel is one of our vineyards that is just outside the city of Sonoma where we have a six-hundred-acre property and we have partnered with Miyoko. She is going to be providing some of the food for all the guests we have coming. We have invited six hundred people and she is going to be doing a giant spread of cheeses and we have made suggestions for wine pairings for all the cheeses she will have there. She is also going to be making wood-fire pizzas with her liquid mozzarella.”
Miyoko’s does a lot to bring a vegan food experience to people, but she is also doing things for animals. In 2015, Miyoko began her own farm sanctuary called Rancho Compasión. The original Farm Sanctuary in the United States was founded by Gene and Lorri Bauston in 1987. According to the article New life for livestock by Jack Rosenberger, “they bought a run-down 175-acre farm in Watkins Glen, New York. After considerable renovation, they moved the animals to the Watkins Glen sanctuary, which now harbors Hilda [the first rescued sheep] and some 400 rescued animals, including pigs and goats, chickens and turkeys, rabbits and cows, and ducks and geese.” The Baustons opened a second sanctuary on a 300-acre farm, which another 150 farm animals call home in Orland, California.
Miyoko’s Rancho Compasión seeks to give rescued animals a good life like the original Farm Sanctuary. Rancho Compasión began by rescuing two goats and grew from there. In 2016 they became a registered non-profit and currently have almost ninety rescued animals of ten different species. Cammy Schinner, the head manager of Rancho Compasión, stated in an interview that, “I think people tend to undervalue the work that sanctuaries do and kind of expect those who are rescuing animals to kind of be the martyrs or saviors for the animals and there are some in the vegan movement that would rather not donate to the animal sanctuaries or don’t believe in the work that we do because they think their dollars can be more effective in other pursuits.”
Schinner stated that “I think it is incredibly important for people to actually meet the individuals behind that fried chicken or that cut of steak or that scrambled egg, really understand how they got to your plate and why that is part of our culture. I think that sanctuaries are important because we have to learn to connect to other beings on a heart level and we don’t have a lot of opportunities in our lives to experience compassion and love and empathy.”
Miyoko’s is truly helping people and animals by spreading the goodness of vegan sustainable cheese and creating a space where rescued animals can live their lives out in peace. Among all the vegan cheese options on the market, Miyoko’s is one of the most unique. When you try it, know you are supporting a product that benefits people, the animals, and the environment.