Ever since she went vegan in the mid-1980s, Miyoko Schinner’s life has been about one thing: “I want to convince the world there’s a better way to eat.” So her story began as a mission in search of a company, not the other way around.
“First I started playing around with cashews and tofu, turning them into creams, mayos, spreads, and desserts,” she says. And eventually the breakthrough came when she cracked the code for making 100% non-dairy cheese and butter from organic, real foods such as nuts, legumes, and other plant-based ingredients.
Using traditional creamery cultures, age-old cheesemaking techniques, and modern technology, Miyoko reinvented real foods into new and exciting forms. “The world of cheese opened up once learned how to ferment nuts, seeds, and legumes; turn them into cheese; and get them to melt, and act and taste like dairy products.”
But moving from products she created in her kitchen to global distribution was a difficult endeavor. “The road was rocky. There was a time when I wondered if we would ever get it right,” she admits. But she never lost sight of her mission, and it spurred her on. “I love the opportunity to inspire passion for everything that food brings—conviviality, heart, conversation, and the ability to impact the world positively.”
Saving Goats, Saving the World
Schinner’s credo threads through everything in her life, not just her products. In 2015 she cofounded Rancho Compasión, a nonprofit farm animal sanctuary that began with two adopted goats and now provides a safe haven for over 70 animals.
Everything comes together in her worldview. “The most important thing about our product is that it can help save the world. Literally. Because it is so much more sustainable than dairy cheese, it can reduce our impact on the environment while saving ecosystems and wildlife, and take animals out of the food system, saving them, too. And then there’s the contribution to human health—so literally, it’s helping to save the world.”
Delicious products, clean ingredients, environmental benefits—it’s all there. But for Miyoko, everything she does and creates is meant to work in service of her deeply held belief in a “phenomenally vegan” life. “My single greatest motivating factor was and continues to be the lives of the gentle animals I want to take out of the food system by giving people another choice—one that is more sustainable, healthier and, most important, compassionate,” she explains.