Why we make plant-based cheese

There are a lot of reasons why we shouldn't eat animals or animal-based products such as cheese. The simplest reason is that it's not necessary. We can get the same taste, feel and nutrition by making plants into cheese directly.

Using animals to make foods complicates the production process, makes it more expensive, uses more resources and is less healthy for you. It might have made sense to do it like that when our understanding of science and technology was tiny.

Now, using animals is backwards. It's outdated. It's the old way.

And if you don't care about any of this, let us put it more clearly: The old way can't support the growing human population and the demand for meat, cheese and other animal-based products without destroying our environment and bio diversity completely. We just don't have the space to put the animals, and we don't have the space to grow the plants that we need to feed them.

How the hell does it make sense to grow plants, feed it to cows, wait for them to make baby cows, take the baby cows away from their mother, steal their milk and use it to make cheese?

Making cheese directly from plants is the future. It's the new way. The new way is better for the environment, better for animals, better for your bank account, and better for your health.

In the following, I'm going to dive deeper into facts and research and explain why plant-based cheese is better for the environment, better for animals, more cost efficient and healthier than diary-based cheese.

Better for the environment

Making food from animals is not good for the environment. There are many excellent studies researching that impact. Heres a good overview:

Fifty percent of habitale land is used for agriculture. Of that, 77% is used for or by livestock. At the same time, livestock only produces 18% of the world's calories, and 37% of its proteins [0]

It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and methane make up 26% of all global greenhouse emissions. Of those 26%, a majority is caused by animal-based food production. Livestock and fish farms make up 30%, crops that are used to feed animals contribute 6%, and emissions resulting from land use for livestock are around 16% [0].

Of course, this is not only cheese, but includes all types of meat and diary products. Let's look at a more detailed break down per food category:

Beef is the absolute worst offender. Producing one kilogram of beef emits 60 kg of CO2-equivalents. Cheese comes in third, with 21 kg of CO2-equivalents per kilogram. It's obvious that eating cheese made from plants could reduce the environmental impact significantly. Based on these figures, a soy-based cheese would have 20-30x lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Freshwater use is another important environmental factor to consider. Cheese and nuts are absolutely the worst offenders. You can see that a soy-based cheese uses 37x less water than a diary-based cheese, and 27x less than a nut-based cheese.

Of course, there are many other negative effects of producing meat and cheese, such as pollution of the water and ecosystems with excess nutrients (called Eutrophication), and many other second-order effects.

I could write books about this (and people have), but I think the main points are more than clear.

Better for animals

It's pretty obvious why eating animal meat is bad for animal welfare - you raise them in order to kill and eat them. More often than not, they are raised in inhumane ways on big farms in order to squeeze out every last penny.

But why is milk and egg production also bad for the animals? There are a lot of reasons.

In the US, every year 9.8 billion animals are raised and killed for meat and diary production. This is about 30 times the population of the USA. A large majority, 9.3 billion, are chickens [1]. Of course, these chickens are used for their meat and eggs and not for cheese production. There are also a large number of cows negatively affected by the diary industry. In the year 2008, 9.3 million cows were used for milk production in the US [2].

Most of these animals are kept in extremely small spaces and not fed well. They are given antibiotica, because otherwise they would get sick in these environments.
Babies are separated from their mothers, over and over again. Do you think that the cows just produce milk for fun? Like all mammals, including us humans, they only produce milk when they have babies, to feed them. We steal that milk and make cheese out of it.
What about the male offsprings? They can't be used for milk, and usually they are also different breeds than the ones used for meat, so they are just killed. The mother keeps getting impragated just after having a baby, so she can produce milk almost constantly.
All this mistreatments lead to unhealthy cows that are killed off after 5 years. A cow's life expectancy is about 20 years [2].

I'm aware that there are smaller farms that do "care" about animal welfare. Certainly, there are differences in how animals are kept and used for diary production. The reality is, that most of the diary products are not produced on these small farms. There is no way that they could meet the huge market demand which asks for large quantities and low prices.

Finally, keep in mind that also small farmers need to steal the mother's milk and make sure that she gives birth over and over again.

By making cheese directly from plants (instead of feeding those plants to poor animals), we eliminate animal welfare issues completely.

Better for your bank account

Making cheese directly from plants means that, compared to diary-based cheese, we're cutting out a significant part of the process: Raising, feeding, and milking animals. Unsurprisingly, getting the raw milk to make diary-based cheese is the second biggest cost of making cheese [3].

Plant-based cheese is also less perishable than diary-based cheese, leading to further cost savings.

As a consumer, this means that you can buy cheese that tastes the same (or better), is better for the environment and animals, and costs less.

Better for your health

Cheeā€Œses (plant and diary-based, both) are usually high in fat, and we won't pretend that cheese is a health food. However, it's damn yummy and your body needs some fat to work, after all. As long as you don't eat too much fat, you should be fine.

However, eating plant-based cheese is healthier for you than eating diary-based cheese. There are many components to this, but we'll quickly look at two of them. Proteins and fat.

There is an increasing amount of research showing that proteins from plants are healthier than proteins from animals. One study that involved over 131,000 participants found that high animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality. At the same time, increasing plant protein lead to lower all-cause and cardiovascular mortality [4].

Dairy products, including cheese, contain a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fat is associated with heart disease, one of the most common causes of death in developed countries [5][6].

Plant-based cheese is better than dairy-based cheese

These are the reasons why we make plant-based cheese and believe that plant-based foods are the future of food. When compiling this list, we tried to be as objective as possible and base our facts on studies that seemed serious. While some areas of research (climate change, animal welfare) are more advanced and there's more data, some, such as health, are more complex.

Nutrition is a very complicated topic and our understanding of it is in its infancy. In the coming years, science will help us to better understand how the human body works and how stuff that we put in our stomachs influences our health and well-being.

We are aware that there are conflicting studies regarding animal-based nutrition, and we don't claim to be experts on medicinal topics. However, one thing is clear: Plant-based foods are for certain not worse for you than animal-based.

We'll keep updating this post as we read more research and learn about new findings.

References

0: Environmental impacts of food production (Our World in Data)
1: Improving the Lives of Farm Animals (The Humane Society)
2: HSUS report: The Welfare of Cows in the Dairy Industry (The Humane Society of the United States)
3: Start-up and operating costs for artisan cheese companies (Journal of Dairy Science)
4: Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality (JAMA Internal Medicine)
5: Health Concerns About Dairy (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
6: Saturated fat and cardiovascular disease (Wikipedia)

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