Our lab: home sweet home to Those Vegan Cowboys
Those Vegan Cowboys are fixin’ to whip up some new vegan foods that are indistinguishable in flavor, structure, nutritional properties and values from yer old ‘n familiar milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter. We work in a biotech facility that’s a mere hop, skip and a jump away from Ghent University in Belgium. Our cowboys collaborate with scientists and some o’ the big shots from the traditional dairy industry to develop milk proteins through fermentation, and apply them to serve up some fine tastin’, fully vegan, dairy-type products and the like. Fermentation allows carbohydrates and components from plants ‘n grasses to be upgraded to dairy-identical proteins via microbial processes, thereby shortening the food chain. The main focus at this moment is to commercialize the sustainable fermentative production of dairy proteins, in particular them so-called caseins.
The lab was originally raised back in 2008, and has developed its own microbial platforms from the ground up since, allowing it to express recombinant human proteins for a variety of pharmaceutical uses. Our seasoned scientific staff is therefore highly experienced in the field of molecular biology and has broad expertise and know-how in microbial fermentation. Since the beginning of 2020, the operation at large is fully part of Those Vegan Cowboys, an initiative by the founders of The Vegetarian Butcher, Jaap Korteweg and Niko Koffeman.
What happens at our lab? Read it in our Dairy Diary
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Dairy demand on the rise: casein gold rush
In the last 30 years, world milk production has increased by more than 59 percent due to population growth, rising incomes, urbanization and westernization of diets. But people don’t crave cow’s milk. It’s the casein they’re after.
And boy, do we love a challenge.
The largest protein fraction in milk (approx. 80%) is composed of four types of caseins. So far no casein-like proteins have been identified in plants, that have the ability to replace milk caseins. Consequently, there currently are no good sustainable, vegan cheese alternatives, that come close to the real thing in texture and taste.
Those Vegan Cowboys’ Secret Sauce:
We create the ultimate follow-up to traditional dairy by expressing casein genes in yeast and fungi. Caseins are then produced large scale by grass-fed fermentation.
Looking at the mother cow we see an ineffective and darn pitiful sentient cog in the industrial process of modern dairy farming. An animal optimized like a machine where grass is put in on one end and milk comes out at the other.
So what do Those Vegan Cowboys do? They take the next logical step in dairy production. From hand milking, via the milking machine to the fully automatic milking robot of today.
We work on the Stainless Steel Cow.