Those Vegan Cowboys, based in Belgium, are preparing to take on the dairy industry. The start-up intends to remake all cheese varieties using precise fermentation for the sake of the environment.
After selling their plant-based meat brand, The Vegetarian Butcher (De Vegetarische Slager), in 2018, entrepreneurs Jaap Korteweg and Niko Koffeman focused on dairy.
Korteweg told Bloomberg that the most difficult habit to break after going vegan was cheese. He stated, “There are no good vegan cheeses.”
They set out to find a means to make caseins, the major protein found in cow’s milk, in order to change this. Fermentation and gene-splicing techniques are being used to accomplish this.
The researchers want to mimic the natural process of a cow consuming grass and having it fermented by bacteria in their body, resulting in milk proteins. They do this by putting fungus or yeast into a copy of bovine DNA and storing it in steel tanks.
It reacts with organic molecules and creates caseins in this environment. To make a milky liquid, they are combined with fats.
“The cow is the processor between grass and cheese,” Korteweg explained to Bloomberg. “So the fungi are the cow in our line.”
The environmental impact of dairy was a driving force for the creators of Those Vegan Cowboys.
“The dairy sector is not a very sustainable industry… In the Netherlands and other European regions, there are major environmental issues relating to dairy and meat production,” Will van den Tweel, project director at Those Vegan Cowboys, said to FoodIngredientsFirst.
“You also need an enormous amount of land and lots of water for the production of any dairy. And so, alternatives are needed,” they added.
According to van den Tweel, the company’s technology avoids many of these resource requirements.
”This can be a very efficient way for producing the milk proteins itself, whereby the environmental impact is reduced about five-fold… Developing and scaling such technology, however, will take time. To create the effect, it will also need to be cost-competitive with the current traditional way of production,” he stated.
Those Vegan Cowboys, on the other hand, aren’t afraid to take up the task. “If you have the identical casein, you can make all kinds of cheese,” Korteweg told Bloomberg. “It’s our goal to copy them all.”
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