PT 16: Harvest Season

Howdy, and a good day to y’all on this hazy day of fall. The golden leaves are a-tumblin’ down the trees with every gust of wind, and the sun goes to bed a little bit earlier each day. Indeed, it’s been a while since last we spoke, and our ranch has seen plenty of bustlin’ business in the meantime.


Yessir, our good guys and gals in the lab haven’t been sittin’ quiet. The harvest season is upon us, and some of the fruits of our rancher’s hard labor are just about ready for picking. Ambitions were the crop that was sowed, and hard work and expertise were the water and sunshine that made them grow. A cornucopia of achievements is what we’ll reap, and it is my pleasure to share some of those achievements with you today. The VLAIO Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has looked kindly upon our venture, and saw fit to bestow upon Those Vegan Cowboys one hell of a handsome grant. Apart from the great honor that is thereby imparted, this generous support is sure to speed up our research on the production of animal-free casein micelles. In layman’s terms, our dream of vegan cheese that’s indistinguishable from the old-fashioned type is getting closer by the day.


Now, they weren’t the only ones whose keen eye for innovation we happened to catch. Our organization was also nominated for the international V-Label awards, in the ‘Innovation’ category. A lot of our dear readers took the time to cast a vote, and we’re mighty grateful. Voting time is now over, so all we can do is wait and keep our fingers crossed. Speaking of awards and nominations ‘n such, Those Vegan Cowboys just so happen to have been nominated for the Vegan Awards! Each year, the Dutch Society for Veganism presents awards in a number of categories to the vegan business that they think deserve some extra attention. This society has been around for over forty years and can truly be seen as one of the vegan pioneers in our little country, so it’s a great honor to be approached by their expert jury. Word just reached me that the online voting has just opened up… (pssst… at


And if all that weren’t enough, I’m keen as a bean to lift the veil on something that’s been in the works for a while now. Something that’s related to WildWestLand, and the opening of an exclusive store filled with delicious vegan Fromances… Rumor has it that this fabled store will be opening its doors in early November, to support the national TryVegan month in Belgium. Well I don’t know about y’all, but I can tell you that this here storyteller’s curiosity is most certainly piqued. Well there ya have it folks! There’s almost too much to fit in one campfire story, and plenty more that I haven’t even been able to mention. I suppose we’ll have to save that for our next heart to heart. In the meantime, dress warm against the season’s chills and keep your eyes peeled for more news from the vegan frontier.

Picture by Monica Turlui /


PT: 15 Once Upon a Time in WildWestLand

Howdy folks! Have a seat, get comfortable, and lend me your ear for just a moment’s time. It’s been a mighty while since last we spoke, but boy do I have something to speak to you about today. You may recall the news I shared with all you good folks back in December, when the nights were long and the wind blew cold across the frosty fields. I relayed to you the story of how a stranger had come a-knockin’ at our humble homestead door, and how an alliance had been struck that would come to benefit us all.

This stranger wouldn’t remain a stranger for long, and as it turns out she was none other than Henny Westland, heiress to the dairy dynasty of the Westland estate. Together with our head honcho Jaap Korteweg, they came up with a partnership. A partnership that would pave the way for producin’ a plethora of plant-based cheeses, under the shared banner of love. A love for cheese, for innovation, and for the world of tomorrow. Well, a number of months have come and gone since this shared passion was proclaimed, and mountains were moved under the shadow of secrecy. But now, as the golden sun shines ever higher on the busy birds of the farmer’s field, we’re finally coming to the day on which we bring the fruits of this union out of the shadow, and into the light.

The world shall know this union under the name of WildWestLand, the producer of plant-based cheeses that represents a promise kept, to nature and cheese-lover alike. Truly, there ain’t no losers in this picture, and winners all around. Now, these cheeses won’t be made through the fermentation process that forms the hallmark of Those Vegan Cowboys, but they won’t be any less exceptional, and certainly not any less delicious. The greatest visionaries, innovators, ranchers and researchers have joined forces in order to create some cheesy goodness that will blow you away, all while working towards a sustainable status-quo. And boy, do they have a mouth-watering line-up in store for you…

But before I get ahead of myself and spill the beans to y’all, I’ll stop right here and now and let these tasty treats do their own talking. All I can say is that as they speak to you through their culinary qualities, your tastebuds will be left speechless.

Go, find out! Check:

Pt14: The Ballot & the Bullet

Nowadays, it seems like the whole world is a-buzzin’ with political discourse, debate, and intrigue. Whether you’ve just voted in the Dutch general elections, or are faced with political considerations on a different patch of planet that you call your home, it can become difficult to gain a clear understanding of your choices, and of the criteria your choices are based on. Politics concerns every aspect of life that’s worth establishing rules and agreements about and, speaking from my own humble experience, it can easily become an overwhelming topic, especially around voting time.


To help gain a sense of clarity, many people identify a particular issue as being the most important to them, something they have a clear opinion about and which will make it easier to recognize the political party that best represents their interests. To a small business owner, this particular issue might be taxation. To a young family, it might be education and child-care. To others, maybe healthcare is the most pressing issue. No matter the issue, one thing is universally true: the world and the needs of its people are constantly changing, and politics should be our tool to implement the changes we need. Changes for today, and for the days to come. And when I think of an issue that covers not just my own little country but the whole of humanity, from the Netherlands to New Zealand, from public health to the environment, one big topic comes to mind: our shift to sustainable agriculture and production of food.


The world and the needs of its people are constantly changing, but it’s difficult to change the way we do things on such a grand scale. When it comes to sustainability, we are in need of impactful change, but when change happens suddenly we almost experience it as violence. We call such sudden change in how we live a “revolution”, a word which we remember from history books and which, to be fair, was often brought about by violent means. Yet in these times, a revolution is taking place which doesn’t bring violence, but which abolishes it. A revolution which will lead us to take better care of our planet, the animals that live on it, and ultimately, ourselves. A revolution by the name of Veganism. But should this revolution come at the hands of the free market, or of politics?


The answer, of course, is both. On the side of the market, vegan businesses like ours are constantly growing and developing, spreading the vegan lifestyle and making it more available by the day. In July this year, plant-based brand Barvecue will be opening the world’s largest plant-based smokehouse in North Carolina. The well-known Swedish brand Oatly has announced the opening of its first factory in the U.K in 2023, where it will be mass-producing dairy-free milk. And cosmetics company Garnier is now officially certified cruelty-free under the Leaping Bunny Program, and has stopped using all animal testing for their products. As we can see, the market is reacting to the people’s desire for animal-free products.

It goes without saying that politics should reflect this same desire, and that it should move towards regulations that ensure a future which is sustainable in the long run, a future which is vegan. Well folks, that’s simply my two cents on the matter. I won’t tell you how to vote, or what to prioritize in your life; I only hope to have made your choices a little easier, whether it’s today, tomorrow, or years from now. Let us all work towards this violence-free revolution for a cruelty-free world, and in doing so remember the undying words of Abraham Lincoln: “The Ballot is stronger than the Bullet”.


PT 13: Those Vegan Kiddos

It’s been mighty cold outside and all of nature has been in a deep slumber for a good while now, tucked in beneath a blanket of snow. Luckily, our lab is warm and cozy, so you can rest assured knowing that our cultures of fungi and yeast have been growing steady indeed. Who knows what fruits they’ll bear this year, and what delicious animal-friendly cheeses we may create. Yessir, there’ll be plenty of good news to share over the course of the seasons, but today we’re gonna focus on something else entirely: those vegan kiddos.

The first month of 2021 was celebrated by many as Veganuary. Around the globe, millions and more people shared their passion for nature and their delicious vegan recipes, or took their first step in living a more animal friendly life by partaking in the Go Vegan 31 Day challenge. Honoring this celebration, Those Vegan Cowboys wanted to reward the youngsters among us who are doing their part in making the future look a whole lot brighter for ourselves, and for the planet. To that end, we made some real fancy wristbands and certificates that those vegan kiddos could earn by sharing their love for animals and their passion for vegan food.

It is often said that wisdom comes from the mouths of babes, and wisdom we did receive. We received inspiring TikTok videos of kids who staunchly refuse to eat animal products, and Instagram posts showing their favourite vegan dishes. One family shared a photo of some lovely homemade oyster mushroom croquettes, and I’ve been craving some ever since. I should really get that recipe, and fix some up myself. All I can say is, keep it coming! We still have plenty of wristbands and certificates for those young revolutionaries among you, or those who are simply young at heart. Take your social media platform of choice and share your kids’ wisdom, phrases, anecdotes, or anything else that speaks of a passion for vegan food with the world! Make sure you tag #thosevegancowboys, let us know by sending a mail to including your address, and we’ll be sure to send you a wristband post-haste.

After all, our children are the leaders of tomorrow, and any kindness they’re taught will make the world a kinder place. Let’s make sure their kindness is heard, so that it may spread like wildfire.

PT 12: On New Year’s Eve

The days have blown by like tumbleweeds caught in the frigid winds of December, and the time has already come for me to tell you the last tale of the old season, and the first one of the new. Huddle up in your warm homes, by the light of your Christmas trees, as I take you for a short wander through the times that we live in, and the times that await us still. Standing on the precipice of a dawning year, we reflect on the time that’s passed us by. We consider the past, and all that has happened in this remarkable year. We live in the present, enjoying the fruits of our labours and the presence of our loved ones. And we look toward the future, which holds so much clarity and mystery, so many trials and triumphs.

This year has seen its share of hardship, there’s no denying it. Yet, it is in times of crisis that the nature of man reveals itself, and more than anything else it’s revealed itself to be persevering, hard-working, and indomitable. Since my arrival at the ranch earlier this year, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing these same qualities reflected in the good people working there, each putting effort towards different tasks, yet striving for a shared goal. By the good grace of fortune, and the sterile working environment of the lab, none of our researchers have gotten ill, and they have moved mountains with their labour. Indeed, in the short time since our ranch was founded, their work has already caused quite some ripples in the world, and I mean that in a good way. The first caseines have been spotted in the lab, proving the long-term success of our endeavour for the world to see. Even the Dutch Research Agenda has expressed their confidence by reserving a big sum of gold for our development of animal-free dairy. We’ve made many friends along the way, and the list of enterprises, organizations and ranch-labs that we’ve formed connections with keeps on growing. We introduced our stainless steel cow to the world, that you, dear reader, have so aptly named Margaret, the iron lady. And of course we placed a bounty on the Silver Spore, the highest bounty ever seen east of the Atlantic and west of the Himalayas. The search for this fantastic fungus continues, but as promising leads keep pouring in, we’re confident that we’re on the right track.

As you can see, we’ve had lots of good news when we’ve so sorely needed it, and it’s good to be reminded of that. Nevertheless, our eyes are fixed on the future. This upcoming year will see the advent of the first cheeses from Those Vegan Cowboys, from our ranch to your platter. Of course, we have recently formed a collaborative project with Westland, and you can expect a selection of cheeses to start popping up in supermarkets all over the country. However, our independent work at the lab is coming to fruition as well. We can only imagine what other breakthroughs we’ll be making, and what milestones we’ll be looking back to a year from now.

All in all, we can look back with pride, and we can look forward with hope. Hope for the accomplishment of a mission that will benefit us all, man and nature alike. Of course, we’re a business, but our business is Mankind. The common welfare is our business; charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence, are our business. Though for now, let us put aside our work, enjoy the festivities of the season, eat until our bellies are as round as a wheel of cheese, and dream of all the good that is yet to come in a brand new year.

Picture: Chris F via Pexels

Pt 11: Going down at the fabled Calamity Mine

I sat down by the campfire with Kathleen ‘The Sticky Belgian’ Piens one crisp autumn night as she patiently explained to me every detail of the operation. This is the second part of what she told me. Please read the introduction of A lay of the land.


At The Cattle Drive, that very same team of fermentation specialists continues growing the most promising strains of yeast and fungus, using the methods that were developed in The Open Range. Alongside a row of 15L vats stands our prize cow, a larger model that we call a pilot fermentor. At a whopping size of 300L, this fermentor represents Margaret, our stainless steel lady. Inside our Margaret, the micro-organisms will grow, feeding on grass-derived sugars and producing the dairy proteins that we need to make the milk and cheese we so desire. After this process of growth, fermentation and production is concluded, we’re left with a soup of different components; a so-called fermentation broth. Through centrifugation and different methods of filtration, the relevant proteins are separated from this broth before they move on to the next stage in our process…



…at the fabled Calamity Mine! This lab is all about the purification of proteins. The liquid medium that’s sent on from The Cattle Drive is processed here, and stripped down to its very essence. The skilled team that works this mine is able to use the characteristics of each type of protein in order to develop a purification procedure that’s tailor-made for its specific attributes. The medium containing our dairy proteins is submitted to this procedure until all the impurities and by-products are separated, leaving only a pure batch of protein, ready for analysis. In much the same way, our team at the Calamity Mine can also extract the pure proteins from a bottle of regular old cow’s milk. Doing so gives us a frame of reference, a blueprint if you will, to which we can compare the proteins that are produced in our own fermentation processes. After all, we still follow nature’s design, even if we use cutting-edge technology to do so. When all is said and done, the proteins that are isolated here will be joined together to form that block of cheese that we’re dreaming of, developed completely independently from any living animal. But before we get to that point there’s still lots of work to be done, and the protein that was painstakingly extracted in the Calamity Mine must be subjected to some harsh scrutiny and analysis indeed.

The task of probing those proteins and unravelling their secrets falls to a group of analytical experts. They work to reveal the unique characteristics of milk proteins, and investigate how those characteristics can be applied to form larger structures. Their area of expertise is still shrouded in mystery, which is why we came to calling this part of the operation Unknown Territory. These uncharted lands are a place of many questions, and the task of exploration is no easy one. In here, the protein batches that come from the Calamity Mine, but also smaller samples from The Open Range and The Cattle Drive, are rigorously analyzed. The results that come back from here function as important feedback for those earlier stages of the research process.


The Alchemist

The most important question, though, lies in the matter of micelle formation. You see, caseins are a very special group of proteins, the ones that are essential to making milk and cheese. These caseins have a unique way of interacting with one another, forming clusters that we call micelles. Being able to set in motion the formation of these micelles is one of the biggest hurdles in the journey towards our golden cheese, though our team is booking progress with each week that passes. Before long, they’ll have mapped this unknown territory, decrypted the enigma of micelle formation, and we’ll be well on our way to a true cheese making process. Naturally, any large research operation is dependent on a few vital amenities, resources that are used by any and all of our laborious laborants. Chief amongst these is our Drugstore, the place where all the necessary chemicals, solutions and mixtures are prepared and weighed. It is vital for all the different parts of the process I’ve described to you so far that this is done with the utmost precision and care, which is why the goings on in this room are under close supervision of one man, colloquially known as The Alchemist.


And then of course, any big ranch needs a good barn. This is where we keep all our equipment, from test tube to gloves. Here, we also keep all of our freezers, which contain every single modified strain and purified casein that the lab has produced to date. They function somewhat as a library; a collection and record of all the steps we’ve taken in our research so far, and all the milestones passed. Even though we still have plenty of room left, they are filling up more and more as the weeks turn to months, and the season slowly turns as frigid as the content of our freezers. Before long, who knows how many wonderful and unique strains we may have hoarded up in here, always ready and awaiting further study and experimentation.


So there you have it folks, the inner workings of our good ranch in a nutshell. Although there’s a lot more to it than I could describe in a few short pages, this is how our research is slowly but surely paving the road towards our golden goal, a true cheese eldorado. Though there’s mysteries abound in this venture of ours, let it never be said that our work and achievements at the lab are kept a mystery from others. After all, the fruits of this research are meant for all, and in the end the final prize will be enjoyed by all. On that note, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our journey towards a microbiological masterpiece, and trust to see you next time for more stories and chronicles, tales and revelations, of Those Vegan Cowboys.

Pt 10: A lay of the land

Lots of you kind and curious folks have been wondering how this enterprise of ours works. We’ve been getting questions left and right, asking how those scientific sodbusters down at the lab go about their business on the road from fungus to feta, from yeast to yoghurt. Well, I’m just a humble scribe, and my ink-stained fingers ain’t never touched the shiny chrome of a fermentation vat, but I sat down by the campfire with Kathleen ‘The Sticky Belgian’ Piens one crisp autumn night as she patiently explained to me every detail of the operation. Being the Head of Downstream Processing, Kathleen possesses a unique overview of the many cogs that constitute this dairy-developing machine. She gave me a rundown of the different lab spaces, each with a purpose and personality as distinct and specialized as the good people working there, and now I’m sharing this rare glimpse with you, dear reader.


The Ranch

First off, let’s start with shedding some light on the micro-organisms that set this entire process in motion, and on the people who make them move in the direction we want them to; The Magnificent Seven. These molecular miracle-workers take copies of the genes that are present in a cow’s DNA, the genes which are responsible for the production of dairy proteins, and introduce them to a yeast or fungal strain. Such a little set of genetic code contains all the instructions an organism needs to build the proteins that will eventually become dairy. Now, I know what you might be thinking, but luckily in this day and age these genes don’t have to come from an actual cow any more. Knowing the exact code that constitutes such a gene allows us to have it synthesized, meaning that it’s stitched together one nucleobase at a time, and with no need to bother a breathin’ bovine. Once such a gene has been successfully implanted in the DNA of a micro-organism, the Magnificent Seven start cultivating the yeast or fungus in small amounts at The Ranch, in order to see if it starts producing the desired proteins. Like wild horses, some of these strains buck more than others when they’re being tamed, and it’s up to the Seven to see which are ready to be saddled up for a true test drive.

The Open Range

Once these strains are selected and saddle-broken in The Ranch they’re moved on to The Open Range, where our team of dedicated fermentation specialists takes them for a spin. Here they have a whole set of small fermentation vats in which promising strains can be grown under the circumstances that they love best. Whether it’s down to temperature, the amount of oxygen they receive, or how often they like to be fed, all these strains have their own specific wants and needs.



Our people at the Open Range develop a process to make sure those needs are met, and continue to test the performance and robustness of these strains on a slightly larger scale. If all goes as planned, we now have our hands on some micro-organisms that appear to grow well and produce the proteins we want them to. At that point we’ve got everything we need in order to grow and evaluate them on an even larger scale, so they’re moved on to The Cattle Drive where their microbial mettle is put to the test.

The Cattle Drive & Calamity Mine

At The Cattle Drive, that very same team of fermentation specialists continues growing the most promising strains of yeast and fungus, using the methods that were developed in The Open Range. Alongside a row of 15L vats stands our prize cow, a larger model that we call a pilot fermentor. At a whopping size of 300L, this fermentor represents Margaret, our stainless steel lady. Inside our Margaret, the micro-organisms will grow, feeding on grass-derived sugars and producing the dairy proteins that we need to make the milk and cheese we so desire. After this process of growth, fermentation and production is concluded, we’re left with a soup of different components; a so-called fermentation broth. Through centrifugation and different methods of filtration, the relevant proteins are separated from this broth before they move on to the next stage in our process…


Go to part II of A lay of the Land


PT 9: A Tale of Two Cheesemongers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of making new alliances, and the age of making a cheese like the world had never seen before. Through the frigid gloom of December’s dusky days came riding a dairy queen like straight out of an old-timey novel. Having arrived at our homestead, the stranger shook the snow off her boots and warmed herself by the hearth, where a fire crackled merrily. As the hoarfrost on her cloak melted, forming droplets on the floor, she put aside her cowboy hat to reveal a cascade of golden locks, and took a minute to catch her breath. The smell of woodsmoke mingled with those of the holiday spices hanging from the rafters, and she inhaled deeply once more before introducing herself. As it turns out, this lone ranger had come from afar, from the Westland territories that cover the Maasland meadows, the Old Amsterdam floodplains, and the Trenta hills. These lands, known for a dairy dynasty spanning nearly a century, had sent her forth to our good folks at the ranch on a mission to forge an alliance. An alliance which would open new doors for all of us, and which would give the world a taste of what vegan cheese could truly be.

Well, our head honcho didn’t need longer than two shakes of a cow’s tail to decide that this lady was one hundred percent bona-fide, from the silver spurs on her cowboy boots to the rider’s denims that she wore. She even rode a rare Tesla steed, just like our cowboy in command. Their connection was instant, and after short deliberation a golden deal was struck. The two announced that Westland and Those Vegan Cowboys would create an animal-friendly cheese in the best way possible: by joining forces and working together, as we’ve always done before.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the search for the Silver Spore has ended, or that we’ve forgotten about the quest for that fabled cheese eldorado. No sir, those efforts will continue, and we’re booking results with the passing of each and every day. In fact, this collaboration is sure to speed things up, paving the way for even bigger plans ahead. Thing is, reinventing the wheel is a whole lot easier when you have a partner to count on, and two cowboy hats cover twice as much wisdom as one.

As to when you and I are gonna be able to try this new cheese, I can’t tell. All I know is that it won’t be too long, and as the season passes and the sun returns to the sky above, we may well be able to celebrate with our very own slice of vegan heaven. I, for one, can’t wait to have a taste.

Pt 8: Artificial by Nature

As the days grow awfully short, and the sun sets early over the leaf-strewn streets of our towns and villages, we huddle up in the warmth and comfort of home and hearth. Looking out over the windblown fields on such a clear night, you see the pale moon painting the meadows blue, and the farms in the distance glowing like little islands of light on a cold night at sea. The year’s harvest has long ended and a time of hibernation sets in, where we prepare for the new season and await the sun’s return. Both man and beast seek shelter inside and patiently feed on the early autumn’s plentiful bounty, the memory of midsummer’s heat fading as quickly as the green of the trees. At least, that’s how it was for a very long time. Before that, in an age where us humans plowed no fields and sowed no seeds, we moved with the seasons, following the herds of wild animals where they went. Fire kept us warm as the stars guided us on our journey. Since the dawn of time, we have always been dependent on the cycles of nature, up until quite recently.

Reinvent our lives

As mankind lived through countless revolutions around the sun, our tools progressed, constantly changing what it means to be human. Nowadays, we have greenhouses where plants can thrive even if the fields are covered in snow. We have electric lights and heaters that keep the cold and darkness at bay, and fancy devices to connect us to the outside world. Yessir, the technologies that we invent in turn cause us to reinvent our lives, whether it be the first person to harvest a home-grown crop, or the first person to splice a gene. And one thing that all these technologies have in common is that at first they seem revolutionary, even scary, before they become widespread and are considered normal.

A good long chat

Now, one such form of technology that’s on the rise in food production is that of applied microbiology, coupled with the use of genetic engineering. In order to better understand the impact and benefits of these technologies, I sat down with our Sheriff, Will van den Tweel, and Steven ‘sing-a-long’ Geysens for a good long chat. They explained to me how these fields of research are focused on understanding the inner workings of organisms on the smallest scale, and on actively shaping them.

Food from a laboratory

This might sound artificial or unnatural, but when you think about it, this ain’t really anything new. Ever since the dawn of agriculture, farmers have faithfully selected those plants that yielded the most corn or the cows that gave the most milk. In doing so, mankind ‘sculpted’ species of plants and animals into versions that would’ve otherwise never existed, like the potatoes ‘n peppers that we consider to be so natural. Heck, even the production of cheese and beer are heavily dependent on controlled microbial processes and those have been around for thousands of years. The only thing that’s changed is our growing understanding of these processes, and the way we apply them. It’s this very same understanding of microbiology that now allows us to deconstruct foods that used to come from animals, and to start developing them in laboratories instead. Of course, that might not seem like a very nice idea at first. When you think of a cold glass of milk, you’d rather picture a happy cow in a field than a big metal vat in a sterile lab. If we examine the details and consequences, however, that last picture becomes a lot brighter. First of all, microbiology takes away the need to bother or exploit any living creature in making the products that traditionally come from animals, and they can live a much happier life if there ain’t a big industry that takes priority over their happiness. Secondly biodiversity ain’t nothin’ make light of. The laboratory makes for a much more efficient way of doing things, and that’s a fact. On top of all that, we can even apply these technologies in order to make the foods that we know and love much healthier than they have been in the past. We can eliminate the hormones and antibiotics that are so present in many dairy products, we can control the presence of certain components such as saturated fats, and we can create an animal-friendly product that is simply superior to its old-fashioned predecessor.

A revolution that will benefit us all

All in all, mankind has always been somewhat artificial by nature. Who we are is defined by the tools we use, and those tools are ever changing. From gathering berries to planting them, from hunting animals to herding them, we now stand at the brink of a new revolution. A revolution that will benefit us all, man and animal alike.

PT 7: Those Vegan Cowgirls

Gather around, ladies and gentlemen, for today this songbird will be singing you a different song than you’ve heard from him before. Course, we got plenty of stuff going down on our good ranch that I could tell you about, and many exciting things cookin’ in the lab, but that’s a tale for another day. This here story I’m about to unfold is about the women of the wild west, the daring dames that rose to great heights in a society that tried to keep them down. These ‘femmes’ proved ‘fatale’ to the old-fashioned stereotypes of the world, and now and then to an unlucky banker or cattle driver that was foolish enough to reach for his shooting iron. In the face of adversity, these women found out that at some point the voice of the unheard has to stop asking and start demanding. In doing so, they left their mark on history and changed the course of time. I’m sure this is starting to sound mighty familiar…

One such desert rose went by the name of Pearl Hart. From a well-off family in the frigid lands of Ontario, she was given all the things a young lady could dream of, if a young sophisticated lady were to have the correct dreams of course. She received the best education and would never be short on money, all she had to do was follow the path that was set out for her. Marry a man of her parent’s choosing, have lots of children, and conform to the role of mother and wife. Many a girl would have been jealous, but it turns out that Pearl was cut from a different wood altogether. She refused to live a life that she had no say in, and chose freedom in hardship over slavery in wealth.

She ran off, and hardship was indeed what she encountered. After many trials and tribulations she came across Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and saw Annie Oakley, famous sharpshooter and advocate for female self-defense. Annie was living the life that Pearl had been dreaming of, living proof that a woman could make a change in the world and be respected for it. And although Pearl herself turned to a more, let’s say, clandestine way of living, she carried the torch of change throughout her life. At her court trial for robbery she infamously claimed that she did not consent to being punished for breaking a law that she, as a woman, could not have voted for. Her voice was heard, and she was released without charges.

Now, you might be asking yourself where this story’s headed, and I’m about to tell you. For every Pearl Heart and for every Annie Oakley, there are a hundred, a thousand other women who are changing this world of ours every single day. At the hands of the women at our lab who are pushing the boundaries of science and industry, of the ones who are investing in revolutionary vegan businesses, and of those who raise awareness for innovative female-founded vegan initiatives, change is upon us. And of course: those who make it happen.

When it comes down to it, change is never easy. Regardless whether you’re a man or woman, it’s difficult to take the path less travelled by. That’s why it’s good to remind ourselves why we do this, why we walk this road. We walk it because, like Pearl and Annie and all those others, we choose the future rewards of today’s hardship over the future price of today’s easy road. We walk it with pride, and are getting closer to a brighter tomorrow with each and every step.

Picture: Pearl Hart – Unknown Author – “An Arizona Episode”. Cosmopolitan 27: 673-677. May-October 1899.