One of the main things that stops people from making the change to vegan eating is letting go of foods that they may have grown up with, like cheeses and butter. Innovative and imaginative business owners are finding solutions to this problem by creating compassionate and tasty substitutes for all the classic favorites.
For the latest installment of PETA Prime’s series on compassionate CEOs, we interviewed Miyoko Schinner, founder and CEO of Miyoko’s Kitchen, a premium line of vegan cheeses and butter. She has devoted her life to promoting the vegan lifestyle by helping people make the switch to plant-based foods through her books, videos, products, and talks. She lives with her husband, Michael, in Marin County, California, where they have a sanctuary for farmed animals, Rancho Compasión, which is home to over 80 animals, including cows, donkeys, pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, and chickens.
Why do you think it’s important to provide people with vegan versions of artisan cheese and butter?
They are the base of so many traditional dishes, so having vegan versions makes it easy not to have to reinvent the wheel in cooking. Just replace and cook away! People like unctuous, indulgent things, and there is nothing more indulgent than fatty cheese and butter. If we are to help people transition away from animal products, we need to offer solutions for the most common and beloved ones.
Which of your products are you most excited to share with others?
The mozzarella and butter make the transformation of your mother’s lasagna and chocolate chip cookies absolutely seamless. On the other hand, my personal favorites are the more artisanal varieties that show the world how exciting and sexy vegan cheese can be.
How have consumers embraced your product range?
With utmost delight! We have been extremely fortunate in building a loyal and passionate consumer and retailer base that helps to evangelize our products. It’s been an exciting journey so far.
What do you think will be the most exciting vegan food trend in the next year?
Some amazing faux meats are hitting the marketplace and getting a lot of attention, and the world of sea veggies is also being discovered. I expect to see innovation around that as well.
How do you share your compassion for animals with those who aren’t so animal-friendly?
By unabashedly telling cute animal stories and sharing delicious food! As I get older, I get bolder in sharing my personal mission and the mission of the company, which is to sell a lifestyle, a philosophy, a belief that all creatures are entitled to liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness.
Miyoko’s sells a lifestyle based on compassion—not just cheese. And I talk about it wherever and to whomever will listen. I find that when I speak with passion and conviction, people listen, no matter what their perspective may be. When they taste the cheese, they go, “Wow. Maybe I should reconsider.”
Any advice for someone wanting to start a vegan business?
Go for it. Be strategic in planning, make sure you have a topnotch product, and be willing to work your butt off.
Check back next month for another inspiring interview with a compassionate CEO.