Pt 20: The Vegan Caravan

After two mighty long years with barely a festival or country fair to be found, it seems like the world was itching with anticipation to get back into the full swing of things. The summer sun’sa-blazin’ in the sky, and people gather to share in their love of music, arts, and good food of course. The folks at Those Vegan Cowboys are no different. Wanderlust has ever been in our blood, so we jumped at the opportunity to form ourselves a traveling caravan and go touring the countryside, making friends and spreading the word of our mission as we went.

 

Our stainless steel biomechanical beauty Margaret insisted on coming along, and we were glad for her company on the trail. One of our first stops was at the Floriade, the world-renowned exhibition of horticulture, artsand progressive technology in Almere. This year’s theme is ‘Growing Green Cities’, and the festival features a heavy focus on sustainable solutions and innovative initiatives. Naturally, we had a great time meeting like-minded folks and sharing our story. Margaret got so much attention, I could’ve sworn she’d never want to leave. Everyone and anyone wanted a photo with her, and she was more than happy to oblige. The Floriade is still up and running until October 9th, so make sure to pay it a visit! It’ll take your breath away.

 

We never do manage to sit still for very long though, as the world’s a big place and there’s so many things to see. Even though Margaret was reluctant to leave the Floriade behind, we managed to convince her that fame could be found in more than one place. Our next stop was the Albert Heijn Beter Eten festival, where the future of healthy, sustainable and innovative food production was showcased and discussed. It was a pleasure to see the excitement spread through the crowds as we talked to them about our mission. Over the course of three days at the Beter Eten festival, we gained many a new friend and ally, and Margaret gained many new fans. She was looking exceptionally shiny indeed.

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and luckily we could travel both! Yessir, in the third week of August this little traveling caravan of ours will be setting up camp at not one, but two festivals at the same time. Part of our troupe will be touching down at Lowlands festival in Biddinghuizen, bringing our iron lady Margaret and some tasty vegan treats to music lovers from all over the world. Rumor has it that Margaret is a huge fan of the Belgian musical artist Stromae, and when she heard he’d be performing at Lowlands she was over the moo(n) withexcitement. The other half of our brigade will be visiting the Vegan Summer Fest at the Flanders Expo in Ghent, Belgium. This annual festival is all about vegan food, and is pretty much right in our neck of the woods!

 

Needless to say, we’re planning to make a big impression there as well. I’ve made it my personal mission to try as many of the vegan foodtrucks as I can. And of course there’s a bunch of cooking demos, informative talks, music, art… too much to name! I can’t wait. And onwards our caravan will continue to travel, roaming the world and spreading the word. A cowboy’s work is never done, and our saddle ain’t never gonna hang on a wall for long. At the end of the day, it’s always good to come back to our beautiful ranch though, and even Margaret gets homesick sometimes. Still, it never takes long before our feet start itching again, and the open road always awaits.

 

Till next time we meet, kind folks. We hope to catch you on the trail!

Pt 19: A harvest that feeds humanity

Welcome back, kind folks! We’re on the threshold of summer, and as the sun climbs higher into the sky with each passing day, it’s shining down on our luscious fields o’ green and bringing life wherever its rays touch the earth. Similarly, the sun’s rising ever higher into the green sky of plant-based livin’, in a manner of speaking. This sunlight, however, is of a more material kind. It represents the investments that plant-based initiatives such as our own require to grow before they can blossom into a harvest that feeds humanity in a sustainable, cruelty-free way.

The rising demand for vegan products has never been higher, andfortunately the governments of the world are, slowly but surely, coming to reflect the needs of the planet and its people. Alright, enough poetry; let’s talk facts. The Dutch government has allocated an investment of 60 million euros towards the development of plant-based alternatives for traditional meat anddairy. Those Vegan Cowboys is just one of the companies that’s receiving a portion of this investment, which represents a hefty boost for our community of budding plant-based industries. After all, when you set your sights firmly on a goal, and can envision the path towards it, you need only the tools to carve that path. Rest assured that we’ll put to good use the tools that are entrusted to us.

Looking at our neighbours, the new government coalition that formed in Germany at the end of last year is taking firm steps towards the transition into sustainability as well. Over the lastfew years, Germany’s meat production has been on a steady decline, whilst the production of plant-based alternatives has been soaring. The country’s government is cementing its efforts to create a national food strategy which focuses on healthier foods, the elimination ofanimal cruelty, and the advocation of alternative protein products.

Across the pond, our friends in the U.K are also taking strides towards a brighter future. As reported by the Good Food Institute, the last few years have shown that consumer demand for plant-based meat and dairy has increased to such a degree that the industry can barelykeep up with its production. The growth of plant-based food demands is predicted to be as high as a tenfold increase of what it is now by the year 2030. The Plant-Based Food Alliance UK was formed last year in response to these growing demands. This alliance is composedof some big players in the vegan industry such as The Vegan Society, Oatly, and Alpro, andaims to work towards a healthier planet and public in line with the U.K’s commitment toreach a ‘net zero’ with its carbon emissions by 2050.

All in all, plenty of good news for those of us who dream of, and work towards, a more harmonious planet. These changes are not a temporary hype, or a soon-to-be outdated fashion. These changes are the telltale signs of a turning of the tide, of a force of nature thatis working to shape the planet slowly, but inevitably. Until next we meet, may the sun continue to rise ever higher, in every sense of the word.

Pt 18: a week without

Why hello there, kind folks! It’s a pleasure to meet you again, as the sunshine is slowly returning to our skies and the days grow longer by each passing week. Today I would like to tell you all a thing or two about the effects of veganism on this little planet of ours. Of course, ending the cruelty that is inherent to our current systems of meat and dairy production is a big part of our motivation to produce animal-free cheese. The other side of that penny, however, is the enormous ecological footprint that is left behind by those industries! Though they might only cost a few euros in the supermarket, every piece of meat and cheese exacts a heavy price on our environment and climate.

 

In order to raise more awareness of this fact, and to put into perspective the benefits of veganism, the Netherlands is holding its fourth annual ‘Week Without Meat & Dairy’ this week, from the 7th until the 13th of March. Those Vegan Cowboys are gung ho to have as many participants as possible, so let’s go over the savings real quick and give you an idea of what tremendous contribution even a week’s worth of conscience really amounts to.

 

Fresh water is one of the most important things to mankind and nature both, a thing so essential and seemingly plentiful that it can hardly be thought of as scarce in a thriving country like ours. Yet, only 3% of all the water in the world is fresh, and its availability is becoming increasingly more threatened as the demand of mankind and its industries grow. The production of meat and dairy are big contributors to this threat. To illustrate, the average person’s meat consumption amounts to a whopping 150 Litres of water per week! This water is mostly used to irrigate the crops that feed those millions of cows and other cattle, just so they can end up in a little plastic package in the supermarket. You may take shorter showers, or use a water-efficient dishwasher, but cutting back on meat and dairy is by far the best way to help save our world’s shrinking water supply.

 

On top of that, all that meat and dairy involves lots and lots of transportation. Transportation of livestock, transportation of the feed and water they consume, and transportation of the meat and dairy they produce. You may be helping the environment by using your car less, or by taking the bicycle to work, and you’re certainly not wrong for doing so. However, the average person’s weekly consumption of meat and dairy equates to around 121Km of driving around in your car! Think of all the tonnes of greenhouse gases that are being emitted, just because there’s cheese or sausage on a sandwich instead of vegan products, which are just as tasty or even better.

 

Of course there are lots of other factors that weigh in on the equation, but I trust that I have already illuminated some of the immense savings that can be achieved by one person, in one week’s time. We can only imagine what the results are when it isn’t just one person, but many. And if it isn’t just one week, but forever. Together, our choices shape the world of tomorrow, and it’s high time to start choosing consciously.

 

So, take this chance to try out how easy it is and how good it feels to cut meat and dairy from your diet, even if just for a week. Try out some delicious vegan recipes, of which there is an abundance, and surprise yourself with how unnecessary those animal products really are. Share your experiences on our social media, and let the world know what a week’s worth of conscience really amounts to.

PT 17: An eventful year….

A cold mist blankets the last days of this eventful year, yet the fires of festivity and fellowship burn brightly in our homes, hearths, and laboratories. Time has neither quickened nor slowed its pace, but as the new year approaches we feel ever inclined to glance back over our shoulders at what we’ve accomplished, and to gaze forward at what we’ll accomplish still. Under this gaze, all of the past and future days are folded into one, along with our hopes, aspirations, and promises.

 

An eventful year it was indeed. A year of achievement; of challenges met, trials bested, and obstacles overcome. We all have reason to celebrate, to kindle the flames of community and uncork the wine of life with our loved ones, and to recall the events of this year: the year of the cowboy. As a wise man once said, a good many hands make a day’s work light, and no less than four brand-spankin’ new recruits at the ranch have helped make our heavy work that much lighter. Bolstered by their help, the wheel of progress hums contentedly as it paves our way towards the future.

 

This year has seen the production of our very first caseins in the lab, and we are indeed getting closer to our dream by the day. As the production of caseins is underway, we must also figure out how to turn them into delicious cheese. To this end we’ve recruited an experienced cheesemaker whose insight will prove invaluable. Of course, a prodigy cheesemaker needs a state-of-the-art cheesemaking lab, and so we’ve started the work on some, let’s say, redecorations. Unfortunately, this new lab is in the favourite spot of our stainless steel cow Margaret, and we’ve had to do some serious convincing to get her to give it up. The only thing that could appease her was, as always, the promise of more fame: from April up until October next year she’ll be grazing at the Floriade in Aalsmeer. Be sure to pay her a visit! She loves the attention.

 

And while our ranchers steadily make headway on our quest for animal-free cheese, we haven’t been idle outside the lab either. Over the course of the year, our dairy delegates have travelled far and wide to visit countless potential partners, from scientists to cheesemakers, from investors to fellow innovators. The fruits of these voyages have grown on the many different branches of our venture, and the world is evermore aiding us in our pursuits. Those Vegan Cowboys have been granted not just one, no sir, but two awards in recognition of our contributions to the vegan mission. On top of that, we’ve been granted a hefty sum of gold by VLAIO: the Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship organization. This support is sure to expedite our research and encourages us to double our efforts.

 

This summer also saw the advent of WildWestLand, our side-project in collaboration with Westland Kaas, and the introduction of its very first vegan products. We had a wildly successful pop-up store, or Fromancerie as we like to call it, dedicated to this union just a mere stone’s throw from the lab. The cheese-lovers of The Netherlands and Belgium have been raving about these delicious Fromances, and are more than ready to see what else we’ve got in store for them.

 

There’s ever more to tell you, good folks, but any half-decent storyteller knows to give the audience just enough to leave them on the edge of their seats. And trust me, there’ll be plenty more to this story for me to tell you, as it unfolds further by the day. For now, I’ll leave you in the holiday comfort of your homes, enjoying the company of friends and family. When next we meet, you and I, we’ll be in a new year. New dreams, new stories, and new cheesy goodness awaits us, and we can’t wait to share it all with you.

 

Happy holidays from all of us at Those Vegan Cowboys! Oh, and Margaret asked me to wish you all a happy *moo* year…

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 stem.veganawards.nl)

 

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 / Pexels.com

 

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: www.wildwestland.com

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 postoffice@thosevegancowboys.com 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.

Barn

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.