Today in Monkey Butter News:

Cow Milk Without the Cow Is Coming to Change Food Forever

They're trying to make cow's milk cheese without the cow. Using mail-order DNA, they're tricking yeast cells into producing a substance that's molecularly identical to milk. And if successful, they'll turn this milk into cheese. Real cheese. But vegan cheese. Real vegan cheese.

That's the name of the project: Real Vegan Cheese. These hackers want cheese that tastes like the real thing, but they don't want it coming from an animal. Abandoning real cheese is one of the hardest sacrifices vegans must make, says one member of the group, Benjamin Rupert, a chemist by training and a vegan for the past decade. With Real Vegan Cheese, they won't have to. "What we're making is identical to the animal protein," he says. "You're not giving anything up, really."

This is what we call "burying the lead":

The possibilities include not just vegan cow cheese, but, well, vegan human cheese. The same basic process for synthesizing cow's milk applies to milk from any other mammal. You just need different genes. Cheese made from engineered human breast milk may not sound like a top seller at the deli counter. But the team says it can serve a practical purpose: Human milk cheese could offer an option to people who have allergies to non-human dairy products. (Chavez said the group has put its experiments with human milk on hold due to Food and Drug Administration concerns about possible autoimmune reactions.)

They also hope to engineer cheese based on the milk of the narwhal, the most outlandish mammal they could imagine. They hear the milk has the consistency of toothpaste.

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16 Responses:

  1. Is yeast-produced food vegan?

    Yeast is alive, after all.

    (Genuinely curious.)

  2. Aaron says:

    Technically, they call it "burying the lede."

  3. Rena says:

    Today, people think the ideas of food grown in a lab, and adults consuming human milk products, are bizarre. In 100 years, people will be equally weirded out by the thought that we once used to eat animal flesh and drink cow's milk.

  4. Wally says:

    Humans made it to the top of the food chain because we are likely the most intelligent omnivores (ok some sharks and seals are quickly catching up - watch your back).

    Extending our pallet and our multi-food sources helps ensure a higher likelihood of long-term survival of the species.

    if you feel it is the best interest of you and your offspring to eat such substances - hey , that's cool. I would try it out...

    ...because I wonder how it will taste on a crab salad with a main of roast beef?

    I'm I not getting this?

    • k3ninho says:

      High protein and low fat, good crunchy texture -- is it me alone that thinks it's not going backwards to eat insects?


  5. bob says:

    I'm told human boob milk is almost like ice cream it has so much more sugar in it than other milks. Can anyone confirm?

    • MetaRZA says:

      Human breast milk takes roughly like warm stale vanilla ice cream. Not very pleasant.

    • sclatter says:

      Yes, human milk is very high in sugar and not so high in protein. This is because human babies need so much sugar to fuel their massive brains (brains only run on sugar). But it would also mean human milk is normally not so good for making cheese I imagine.

      As far as the taste, I don't think it's unpleasant. My kids sure seem to like it.

    • Rodger says:

      More like rice milk - sweet, but fairly thin.

  6. Steve says:

    Now, I know it's important for Kansas to have a Narwhal Dairy Quality Lab, but I think I'll just preorder FOB a free trade zone near Austin or something. I'd hate for it to be tied up while they decide what a canonical emmantaler, monterey jack, fontina or mozzarella that hit the durometer around 120 #default_units oughtta be. You want it low-glass-fill copoly-EBish without the cloying PCB notes.
    I'm imagining you just order a hollow full-relief iMac evolution sculpture with a fiddly kinetic bit in the middle, start grinding your mango or avacado parts and any eggshells, and wait 2-18 months depending on the varieties you're trying to get. There's a little window where you can play or hear Welcome To Night Vale depending on the week.

    Wow JWZ.

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