A few years ago, during a frenzied Whole Foods shopping trip en-route to a cookout, I accidentally grabbed a block of vegan cheddar “cheese” instead of the plain old cows’ milk variety. I didn’t realize my mistake until later on when, after a good 15 minutes on the grill, the cheese still had not melted onto our veggie burgers, which were now burnt to a crisp. Needless to say, it was a total cookout fail, and I’ve been pretty skeptical when it comes to non-dairy cheeses ever since.
But it looks like my skepticism might soon be a thing of the past: A group of scientists is attempting to create Real Vegan Cheese (their term, not mine), by engineering a vegan version of the milk protein casein, and combining the protein with water, vegan sugar and oil to make a vegan milk of sorts. The vegan milk would go through the age-old cheese-making process, as cows’ milk does, to create vegan versions of your favorites, like emmentaler and parmesan, according to the project’s Indiegogo page. Lots of folks are into the idea, it seems: The project has already reached its $15,000 goal, with 21 days left.
But before you get too excited at the prospect of never, ever having to consume cashew "ricotta" again, remember: This is a science project. And sometimes, as we all learned during the science fairs of our youths, experiments don’t turn out like we’d hoped. Despite the surprises science could send their way, Craig Rouskey, a member of the Real Vegan Cheese team, is confident they’ll have their first batch ready by October. As he told Vice, “I think the finished product is going to taste like Gouda.” Mmmmm, my favorite.
To learn more about Real Vegan Cheese, check out the video from the project’s Indiegogo page below.
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