It Sounds Udderly Impossible: 'Animal-Free Dairy'
Vegans choose to avoid animal products in order to improve their health, help the environment and reduce the suffering of animals everywhere. But for many people, a life without cheese is not worth any of that!
Worldwide sales of milk alternatives like soya and almond are growing steadily (apparently the non-dairy milk industry will be worth more than - wait for it - $10bn by 2019) and as a result of people drinking less milk, dairy farmers in the USA dumped 43 million gallons of milk last year. But despite milk falling out of fashion, we are still consuming cheese and butter at alarming rates. As our tastebuds adjust to non-dairy milk, the current state of vegan cheese and ice-cream just can't compete - try making deliciously melty cheese out of soy beans and you'll understand why. That is, until now.
California-based food company Perfect Day are making waves with their claim to have created an identical milk substitute with no actual cows involved. According to Perfect Day, the missing ingredient in plant-based alternatives that let them down is milk protein which can only be produced from the DNA of cows. And, it turns out, the cow DNA is easy to come by thanks to years of research by the dairy industry. By inserting cow DNA into yeast, adding sugar and letting it ferment, Perfect Day are the first company to create animal-free milk protein! This milk protein is then combined with more sugar, nutrients and plant-based fat and just like that: cow's milk without the cow.
"This is the very same blueprint, in the form of DNA, that cows use every day. Our yeast, which we lovingly call Buttercup, is now a milk protein-making machine that's 100% food-safe." They explain on their website.
Whether or not this animal-free milk can be considered vegan is another issue for another day but it's certainly an interesting solution to the climate, water and ethical issues associated with traditional dairy farming. The quarter of a billion dairy cows on the planet are responsible for around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, a study commissioned by Perfect Day found its animal-free milk would be responsible for 24-84% less energy, 98% less water, 77-91% less land and 35-65% less emissions.
And Perfect Day are not stopping at just milk. We can apparently expect a full line of animal-free cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream and flavoured milk by the end of 2017.Sumati Menda
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