Miyoko’s Creamery Cultured Vegan Cheddar Cheese Slices

overall Rating:

1.5

planets

Angelina Godinez
7/28/2021
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Through innovative food science and the help of their Plant Milk Discovery Team, Miyoko’s Creamery has brought about global change in the dairy department with their vegan cheese and butters from “wholesome and sustainable plant milk.” They are pioneering plant milk fermentation to produce more nutritious and sustainable dairy food as needed to meet the current demands of the planet. Exploring their website, I discovered that they’ve chosen to emphasize quality moreso than sustainability. While I appreciate their efforts to spread vegan lifestyles on a global scale, I think Miyoko’s Creamery should reflect on their own supply chain and practice transparency in sharing their practices and the data along with it to consumers. Perhaps they are operating and manufacturing in sustainable ways, but this is not shared openly with us as consumers and thus lacks transparency. I’d also like to note the intersectionality of social justice and climate justice, and the fact that a commitment to social justice was not made evident on their website. I’d appreciate more information on the workers who produce their cheese slices and the sourcing of their ingredients, including the land management involved. When looking at animal dairy cheeses in comparison to Miyoko’s Creamery’s plant dairy cheese, Miyoko’s comes out victorious. The elimination of animal milk is huge, and the innovation behind its replacement -plant milk- is very impressive. For that, I applaud Miyoko’s Creamery, and as someone who consumes their cheese, I can vouch that it's tasty and functional for traditional cheese purposes like melting. It is a great alternative to animal dairy cheese, especially for the fellow lactose-intolerant individuals out there, but as a company, they have some work to do to better, and truly, be an active agent in promoting a more sustainable economy & world. 

what it's made of:

2.5

Miyoko’s Creamery has utilized Real Plant Dairy innovation to provide clean nutrition. They “start with the purest, creamiest, nutrient-dense plant milks on earth.” Their cheese is non-GMO, Lactose-free, animal-free (100% vegan, animal hormone-free), palm oil-free, and antibiotic & pus-free. While a definite consensus on GMOs has yet to be reached, GMOs have been tied to a loss of farmland biodiversity and wildlife habitat as well as damaging soil microbiology as a result of the adoption of herbicide-resistant crops. Turning to plant dairy instead of animal dairy helps tackle the fact that raising livestock generates about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions which are harmful to the environment, in addition to the high water consumption required for rearing livestock. I’d be interested in hearing how the water consumption needed for plant dairy compares to that needed for animal dairy. Their vegan cheddar slices are made of the following ingredients: Miyoko's Cultured Vegan Milk (Oat Milk (Filtered Water, Organic Oats), Navy Beans, Organic Garbanzo Beans, Cultures), Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Faba Bean Protein, Potato Starch, Organic Tapioca Starch, Contains Less Than 2% Of Sea Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Natural Flavors, Organic Yeast Extract, Organic Annatto, Organic Cultured Dextrose, Konjac, Organic Locust Bean Gum. They appear to be natural ingredients and do not raise an immediate alarm especially with the high presence of organic ingredients, but it would be helpful to have more information on their sourcing and some self-reflection on the sustainability of their ingredients.  I'd also recommend they look at their plastic usage for packaging and explore alternative, more sustainable options. 

how it's made:

1.3

The Mikoyo’s website shares that “through fermentation, aging, and proprietary methods [they’re] able to capture and concentrate all that plant milk goodness into [their] vegan cheese and butters.” They use “traditional cheese-making cultures” to turn cashew milk into cheese. A comparison is made between cashews and cows, providing data on their impacts. By using rainwater only and no irrigation, it takes them 0 gallons of water to grow 1 cashew tree while it takes 161 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk. One acre can support 80 cashew trees but only 1/7th of a cow. This one-acre then yields 2,333 pounds of cashews which can produce up to 6,000 pounds of cashew cheese. On the other hand, one acre can yield 215 gallons of milk which only makes about 182 pounds of dairy cheese. Looking at longevity, cashew trees have a lifespan of 50 years and while the natural cow lifespan is 22 to 25 years, the lifespan of a dairy cow is only 3-4 years. This data provided to show the sustainability of cashew milk in comparison to cow milk is important and educational. Information and data on the actual production of their cheese and the practices they implement are, for the most part, absent on their website. They do, though, share that their products are Cruelty-free. They are based in the “heart of Northern California’s dairy and wine country” but do not speak specifically on their sourcing or the workers producing their cheese. Their ‘About Us’ tab shares that they began with 4 employees in Miyoko’s home kitchen, but do not provide information about their current employment situation besides telling us they are now in a 30,000 sq ft. state-of-the-art facility in Sonoma. 

In hopes of finding more information on their practices, I turned to the Certified B Impact score. I found that they earned a score of 81, with 80 being the qualifying score for B Corp Certification. Their highest score, doubling all the rest, was under the category of Environment at 35.7. Governance and Community both ranked at 15.6 and then Workers at 13.9. I think their scores also convey that there is room for improvement. By putting more information behind the treatment of their employees and the practices implemented in their facility as well as the land management involved in growing their ingredients I believe these scores will increase, reflecting and rewarding their efforts. 

who makes it:

1.5

Miyoko’s Creamery is a woman-led, Certified B Corporation whose products are “proudly served at world-class wineries and restaurants throughout the region and across the nation” (which makes me wonder about the carbon footprint tied to nationwide shipping). Their mission is a compassion-centric, farmer-to-table, animal-free dairy food system “for the urgent salvation of our planet and all that we share it with.” I read this as an important consciousness of the urgency of climate action and the intersectionality of our natural world. Moreover, they cite The Guardian on the website stating that “avoiding meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth according to according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet.” This acknowledgment is important, as well as the concern and attention to scientific findings on the ecological damage of our actions. Through a chart Miyoko’s shares their world-changing impacts of and intentions behind eliminating animals from our food system: climate repair, reduce water use, reclaim land, save wildlife and ecosystems, end animal cruelty, stop zoonotic diseases, improve human health, and save oceans & waterways. They also point out on their website that if meat and dairy consumption stopped globally, global farmland use would be reduced by over 75%. Throughout their website, it is reiterated that “switching to a vegan diet is the single most important action we can all make to protect our planet.” They offer a calculator to measure the impact over time of eliminating meat and dairy from your diet like gallons of water saved, which is a good step in the direction of using data. Clearly, the sustainability intent and concern are there, but this needs to be shown (transparently!) within their own actions. 

They have developed a dairy farmer transition program to promote their message of being friends and not enemies to the U.S’s independent dairy farmers because they recognize their importance in revolutionizing dairy with plant milk. Miyoko’s Creamery is committed to working with these farmers and helping them transition to plant dairy and encourages dairy farmers to reach out. 

Miyoko Schinner, the founder and CEO of Myoko’s Creamery began this company with the intention to “inspire compassion for all living beings through the joy of food and the positivity of plants” and states that “making food from animal milk is like making energy from fossil fuel.” She is described as the “leading voice in the animal-free future of dairy” and has been recognized by the United Nations as a ‘Vegan Revolutionary’ in its ‘The Future of Women’ global initiative. She is described as “a cheesemaker, cult celebrity chef, best-selling cookbook author, animal advocate, environmentalist, global speaker and entrepreneur, and an epicurean activist who is leading the animal-free transformation of the dairy industry.” While this rave description is impressive, I wish this passion for sustainability from their founder was reflected on the website and better reflected within their transparency as a company. Miyoko and her husband Michael founded Rancho Compasión, a sanctuary that gives rescued farm animals a loving lifelong home, with the hopes that they can change public perception of animals that are typically viewed as ‘food’. They state the sanctuary “promotes a compassionate and sustainable lifestyle for animals, our planet, and our health” but once again lacks facts to back up their claims — even on the Rancho Compasión website (but I will note that the animals seem very loved and treated with personal care). 

It is made clear that Miyoko’s is a brand that centers itself on compassion with the mission of creating a new food company and overall food system and culture built around the principle of compassion for all living beings. They are leading the evolution of dairy to plant dairy, creating a blueprint for a vegan dairy future that is worthy of recognition. I think Miyoko’s Creamery has room for improvement within their own brand to better promote corporate sustainability by diving deeper into the sustainability of the supply chain and production processes for their cheese and butters. 

sources:

https://miyokos.com/

https://agreenerworld.org/a-greener-world/going-non-gmo/

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/factsheet/how-livestock-farming-affects-the-environment-64218

https://www.ranchocompasion.org/about-1

https://bcorporation.net/directory/miyokos-kitchen

https://miyokos.com/pages/tomorrow-creamery