Yeasts and Fungi Are Helping Create Delicious Animal-Free Dairy To Drink and Eat

Glass of Milk Being Poured

Photo: BrianAJackson/Depositphotos

Americans are eating more dairy than ever, with consumption rising each year. But this love of cheese, yogurt, and ice cream isn't just reserved for items made from cow milk. Plant-based milks are increasingly popular, as well as a new category of dairy that you may not have heard of. These animal-free dairy products aren't made from almonds or soybeans but from protein produced in a lab. An increasing number of startups are using a process called precision fermentation to create milk proteins using yeasts or fungi instead of cows.

Once harvested, these lab-grown milk proteins can be transformed into all the dairy items we are already familiar with. As a plus, these proteins don't contain lactose, and concerns about the growth hormones or antibiotics found in cow milk protein aren't a factor. An added bonus is also the environmental impact. A lot of focus has been given to the toll that raising cattle takes on the environment. In fact, eating less red meat is one important way that anyone can help reduce their carbon footprint. But consuming less dairy is also an easy way to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Perfect Day is at the forefront of this technology. Founded in 2014 by two vegans who were left unsatisfied by traditional dairy alternatives, the company is leading the animal-free dairy charge. Chief executive Ryan Pandya was newly vegetarian when he began looking into the issue after being underwhelmed by his experience with vegan cream cheese.

“I had a bagel with vegan cream cheese that was so bad that it led me to investigate. What’s so hard about this? A lot of dairy alternatives are not made of food,” he recalled.

Ice Cream Sandwiches Made from Animal Free Ice Cream

Pandya, who was studying chemistry and bioengineering at the time, then homed in on precision fermentation as the solution to the problem. Similar to the way that beer is brewed or insulin is produced, the process allows for the production of high-quality milk protein. The resulting food items have the taste and texture of regular dairy without the need for cattle.

Perfect Day is now supplying its lab produced-milk protein to major players in the food industry. General Mills has produced a line of cream cheese with precision fermentation protein from Perfect Day (they're now using a supplier from Israel). They've also partnered with Mars, Nestlé, Starbucks, and Graeter to supply protein for their products. Bravo Robot, a company based on cruelty-free, sustainable principles, uses Perfect Day milk protein for its ice creams.

While Perfect Day is the first company to hit the U.S. market, there are others on the way. Founded in 2020, Change Foods also produces milk protein through precision fermentation and is looking to supply the ingredient to others as well as create their own line of cheeses.

It will be interesting to see if animal-free dairy can take hold in the market, particularly in terms of cost. There will also be a hurdle in overcoming the public's suspicion about lab-generated food. But with the UN warning that greenhouse gas emissions must be slashed immediately in order to avoid catastrophic global warming, this technology certainly seems like the perfect way to make an impact.

Companies are using yeasts and fungi to produce milk protein that can be transformed into delicious, animal-free dairy products.

Products Made with Precision Fermentation Milk Protein

h/t: [Washington Post]

All images via Perfect Day except where noted.

Related Articles:

Scientists Develop a Vaccine That Could Help Save the Honey Bees

Bioluminescent Squid Species Could Help Humans Repel Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Enjoying Wine and Cheese Might Actually Help You Avoid Dementia Later in Life

Harvard Doctor Explains the Simple Foods That Are Really Good for Your Brain

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content