By Tanya Henry
“I want to get people off dairy and make it easy for them to switch to a plant-based diet,” explains Miyoko Schinner, founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen, which produces more than 10 different nut-based artisan cheeses.
Remarkably, the Fairfax-based operation, located behind the Marin Museum of Bicycling, opened its doors in September of 2014 with four employees. Less than two years later, Miyoko’s Kitchen now employees 45, ships products nationwide and its cheeses are sold by more than 50 retailers in the Bay Area.
Schinner—a vegetarian since she was 12 and now a vegan—is clearly on a mission. “If we want to be sure the planet will be inhabitable for future generations, we each have a responsibility to change the way we eat,” says the longtime Marin resident, who moved to Mill Valley in 1964. After going off to college in Maryland and living in Japan for 10 years, she returned to Marin and now lives in Nicasio where she has created a sanctuary for her goats, a sheep, pigs, dairy calves and chickens—all saved from being slaughtered or rescued from abandonment.
Schinner firmly believes that adopting a plant-based diet is the single most important factor in solving the world’s climate change issues. She notes on her website that by adopting a plant-based diet, we can reduce our global footprint by a whopping 94 percent! Instead of the 2 ½ acres needed to feed an omnivore, a vegan diet requires only a half-acre, so the savings in energy, water and resources are huge.
Not only are Miyoko’s Kitchen’s cheeses an eco-friendly product alternative, they also taste good. But Schinner didn’t develop them overnight. She spent several years experimenting with ingredients, temperature and multiple flavors. In 2012 she published a cookbook entitled Artisan Vegan Cheese. She also looked to culinary great Julia Child for inspiration, and that is perhaps why her cheeses are more refined, have a silky feel in the mouth and bear no resemblance to those unidentifiable blocks of faux cheese that we have encountered over the years at our favorite health food stores.
It’s safe to say that vegan products from Miyoko’s Kitchen, including the creamy rich Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash and buttery Double Cream Garlic Herb, are making nut-based cheeses far more palatable than they have ever been before.
To find out where to find Miyoko’s products and to order online, visit miyokoskitchen.com.