How food-tech startups New Culture, Perfect Day, and Real Vegan Cheese are working to create dairy-identical proteins that could change the food system.
Vegan cheese isn’t what it used to be. The products of yesteryear had a reputation for being plastic-y slices with a vaguely cheese-like flavor. But today, dairy-free cheese melts beautifully. Artisanal vegan cheese made using traditional cheese-making techniques is starting to take off. A handful of startups are looking to bring animal-free cheese that’s even closer to the real thing by growing plant-based dairy proteins in a lab.
Dairy-Identical Cheese, Without The Cow
While cultured meat is made from real animal cells, the companies working to make dairy products without cows are doing so with plant-based ingredients.
Dairy gets its distinctive taste from two proteins: whey and casein. The process to make animal-free versions of whey and casein closely resembles the way Impossible Foods makes its signature burger. Impossible Foods grows plant-based heme—the iron-rich molecule that makes meat taste like meat—is “made via fermentation of genetically engineered yeast.”