Those Vegan Cowboys: “Cheese without cows; thanks to open innovation”
“After De Vegetarische Slager had put attractive meat alternatives on the market, it was time to tackle dairy. That’s why the founders started a new company, in early 2020: Those Vegan Cowboys. Troubled by the fact that dairy production requires a lot of land and causes high CO2 and nitrogen emissions, they wanted to create sustainably-developed ‘vegetable’ cheese. Cheese in particular, in the ‘non-dairy’ dairy sector, had very few attractive alternatives, and not without reason.
The most essential component of cheese is the milk-protein casein. This is key to cheese’s typical taste and texture. Casein does not occur in plants, so you can only produce it sustainably using fermentation. That’s why we plan to make production-organisms using recombinant DNA technology. This will allow us to produce this protein in precisely the same way that a cow does.
The research process could take up to seven years and we know we are going to meet some real challenges along the way. We will be happy to discuss and work with other companies who, like us, want to make dairy products without cows. The Foodvalley ecosystem offers that possibility. In addition, Foodvalley NL can help us to join the right consortia, so that together we can come up with solutions that benefit everyone. The issues are sometimes so complex that the only way forward is working together. As far as we are concerned, real impact emerges from open innovation.”
Will van den Tweel: Project Director Those Vegan Cowboys