As of April 2022, there were around 78 million vegans worldwide. In 2023, we know that 16% of US millennials went vegan at some point, and the number of vegans in the UK increased by 400% between 2006 and 2018.
In Germany, as of 2022, 3.1% of people were vegan, and 6.9% vegetarian, as opposed to the 2% of vegan and 4.9% of vegetarian Germans of 2021. In short, veganism is trending.
A vegan diet boasts numerous health and environmental benefits. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report, “Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change,” a vegan diet could significantly reduce carbon footprints, and improve human health.
As veganism gains traction, so must the vegan food market expand. In 2022, it represented a $27 billion industry, and is set to be worth around $65.4 billion by 2030. Part of this market is the “faux” foods market — vegan alternatives for meat and dairy that look and taste like the real thing.
Part of the faux foods market, Parisian startup Standing Ovation claims to have created a vegan cheese that shares the unique taste, texture, and aroma of dairy cheese.
Standing Ovation — where science meets vegan cheese
“Our vision was to use science to create an animal-free, planet-friendly, vegan cheese that is still as deliciously dairy as the real thing,” Standing Ovation writes on its website
To fulfill the aim of creating an undetectably vegan alternative to dairy cheese, one must overcome the most common issue in vegan cheese production: replicating the casein proteins that give cheese its taste, texture and aroma — basically, to make cheese “cheese.”
“Casein is the holy grail for the production of alternative options that match conventional products in nutrition, taste and texture, yet it has remained notoriously difficult to create,” Eric Archambeau, co-founder of leading investor in Standing Ovation Astanor Ventures, said in a statement. (bolding added)
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Although caseins are notoriously difficult to produce, Standing Ovation’s innovative use of biotechnology has made it possible. By generating protein-producing microbes and feeding them with plant-based sugars in fermenters, the startup has effectively designed a brewery for vegan cheese, their website states.
After fermenting the microbes, the cheese proteins are recovered and purified, before being mixed with plant or mineral-based ingredients, then curdled, drained, molded, salted and ripened — the same processes that would occur in traditional cheese-making.
The future of vegan cheese-making?
Standing Ovation has been noted by the EU Startups magazine as one of Europe’s 20 most promising startups focused on sustainability, which confirms the large potential of the startup.
The startup has also received generous funding from investors including FoodInnLab, Bpifrance, and Genopole. In 2022, Standing Ovation announced its €1.83 million of funding from Bpifrance, as part of the company’s project, “Food Needs of Tomorrow” (« Besoins alimentaires de demain »).
“Standing Ovation’s technology has a tremendous potential; however, bringing the products rapidly to market requires significant resources, and substantial funding had become necessary,” says CEO Frederic Paques. (bolding added)
Frederic Pacques and Romain Chayot co-founded Standing Ovation in 2020, and are said to have innovated technology that presents a paradigm shift for the vegan food market. The startup has grown impressively quickly since 2020 — should this trajectory continue, Standing Ovation could become a major competitor in the faux foods market.
However, while veganism undoubtedly has many environmental and health benefits, some question whether we need to cut meat and dairy entirely to eat more sustainably. One German initiative, for instance, suggests a “Mindful Meat” initiative, in which meat is still consumed, just in a more environmentally-friendly manner.
That being said, Standing Ovation’s scientific approach to vegan cheese-making presents a great way for those who do choose to cut meat and dairy to continue to get their cheesy fix.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: A vegan salad bowl. Featured Photo Credit: Silke Liebig-Braunholz.