How to Make Dairy Without Cows

The way we make dairy is unsustainable and unethical. Something needs to be done to fix the food industry.

Why the way we produce dairy MUST change

The main issue with the way dairy is produced today is its impact on the environment. Raising livestock for meat and animal byproducts is insufficient and inhumane; something must change. Dairy products should be made from somewhere other than a 2000 pound animal.

All of our plant-based dairy alternatives aren’t practical for producing dairy byproducts. They compromise the taste of dairy. This is because the proteins casein and whey (produced by cows) give dairy products (like cheese and ice cream) their unique properties and texture. By using plant-based alternatives, we lack these vital proteins, so they can never be an alternative as good as regular dairy products. Almonds don’t synthesise casein and whey proteins. Almond milk isn’t regular milk. It can’t be substituted in the process of making dairy products, because it doesn’t have casein and whey (dairy proteins).

What it takes to produce 1 L of milk through dairy farming

Solution to unsustainable dairy farming

Perfect day is a company working on producing these proteins, and disrupting the cruel dairy industry

The solution is to produce casein and whey (essential dairy proteins) without cows and use them as a base for other dairy products. If we eliminate cows from the dairy industry picture but still produce the same proteins (casein and whey), we can make cheese, yoghurt, milk and dairy taste the same as before, but without cows. Vegan dairy without compromise.

This IS possible. We can harvest the casein and whey proteins through cellular agriculture, and then use them as a base to make all the dairy we adore.

Here’s how:

  1. A genetic modification process inserts cow DNA into the yeast so that it uses the “blueprint” in the DNA to produce the same proteins as if it were in a cow.
  2. GM Yeast is “fed” sugar so that it can produce the milk proteins as if it were in a cow. By combining yeast and sugar, the yeast is grown the same way it would be in a cow and will produce the same proteins.
  3. The yeast then converts sugar to casein and whey because it’s in an environment that artificially stimulates GM yeast to behave like in a cow.
  4. Since the yeast has the “blueprint” on how to create milk proteins (because it has cow DNA), it produces the proteins which are then used for a base to create other dairy products. The proteins are then separated from the yeast and used to produce other dairy products.

How these cells grow

Essentially, the yeast is inserted with cow DNA (specifically the DNA which directs its protein producing properties). The yeast becomes a new microorganism with the ability to produce the same casein and whey proteins (like a cow) when fed the right nutrients. The yeast is genetically modified to contain the genetic makeup of a cow so that it has the ability to produce the same proteins. With the specific DNA that directs protein growth, the yeast follows the same process cows do to produce milk proteins when fed certain nutrients. Perfect Day is working on altering the yeast’s DNA to best match the DNA of cows to produce these proteins. When the microorganism is fed specific nutrients and sugar, it ferments the sugar into casein and whey.

Fermentation is the process of converting one set of nutrients to another form. In the production of casein and whey proteins, the genetically modified yeast is able to transform the sugar into casein and whey proteins the same way cows take the nutrients they eat and convert them into protein.

This protein conversion technology is not just limited to the production of casein and whey animal proteins. With different genetic makeups, yeast can be modified to convert sugar to any type of protein.

But producing dairy proteins are a great starting step for changing the food industry. If we’re able to produce the dairy products people demand, at a comparable (or lower) market price, that is made without animals, our dilemma of a poorly-structured food industry disappears. The process of turning sugar into protein with yeast will allow us to make the same tasting dairy products, but instead of making these vital proteins through a cow, we can do it through yeast cells with the genetic makeup of cows.

Genetically Modifying Yeast

We need yeast to brew milk sustainably. The GM yeast is the key to the production of the casein and whey proteins. Dairy proteins are why your cheesy pizza stretches, they’re why ice cream is creamy and they cause the colour and texture of milk. Producing them is essential to the dairy industry. Instead of doing this through a cow, we can edit yeast ) so that it makes the same milk proteins when fed certain nutrients.

We genetically engineer the yeast to obtain the properties of a cow producing these proteins by introducing specific cow genes that convert proteins to the yeast. The organism is able to study and understand the effects of the gene. Inserting and genetically modifying yeast cells is easier than animal cells because of their nature; they are able to grow and duplicate faster than animals. The process of introducing a specific genome to an organism for it to understand the genetic information of the genome is called genetic transformation.

Perfect day uses yeast that is already really good at producing proteins. But, the yeast is genetically modified so that it is really good at producing essential dairy proteins. Once it produces the proteins, the GM yeast is filtered so that only the pure protein it created was left. This way GMOs aren’t actually part of the final protein product, but GMO yeast is used in the production.

Once the yeast is introduced the genes to produce casein and whey, they are put in bioreactor tanks so they can grow with the help of sugars. In these tanks, the yeast produces the necessary proteins, and when enough is produced, the yeast is separated so we’re only left with the pure proteins.

Perfect day uses plant-based fats. They combine the proteins, fats and water in order to produce milk, yoghurt, cream, cheese and kefir. Animal-free.

Milk is the new Beer.

The process of using yeast to manufacture milk is similar to the craft brew beer process. During fermentation of beer, yeast is added to a liquid produced called “wort”. The yeast converts the wort (which is very sugary) into beer by making the sugar into alcohol, flavouring and carbon dioxide. The beer is then matured and eventually develops its flavour. The process of brewing milk is comparable. The yeast is genetically modified so that it converts sugars and nutrients fed to it into the same proteins cows make when producing dairy.

Animal-free biotechnology in the dairy industry has many benefits.

The products won’t include any bacterial infections like salmonella and E.coli. Using yeast rather than cows is also a lot easier to meet demand. Yeast doubles every 2 hours, so the production of proteins (in GM yeast) won’t take that much time. But cows take 2 years to produce their milk (they need to be artificially inseminated and give birth before they can produce milk). Using yeast to produce the same products will be much more effective as the demand for dairy goes up as a result of a growing population.

The proteins and nutrients fed to cows are often wasted. In fact, 97% of the nutrients we feed to cows aren’t available in their final product of dairy or meat. This is an incredible waste of food and nutrients. Using yeast to produce dairy will limit the wastefulness of the input-output ratio. Only 3% of the proteins we feed cows are available to us.

Here are charts comparing environmental effects of conventional dairy vs “Perfect Day” dairy.

Land use

To compare the data: 1 hectare is 2 football fields. That means to produce 1 L of milk through cows it would take 6 football fields worth of land. Perfect day can produce that same L of milk using only 0.28 hectares of land (about half a football field).

25% of the world’s land is used for agriculture. By introducing cellular agriculture into the food industry, we can save 91% of the land designated to dairy production. Especially with our population growing, we will run out of space. We already have so many overcrowded and overpopulated cities. Eventually, we will not be able to feed people because we have no space. Agricultural land production is also a cause of 80% of deforestation — destroying the biodiversity on this planet. We can start saving land by cutting down our need for dairy farms.

GWP

Perfect Day’s Milk production process is 64% better for global warming. Livestock produces methane gas which is way worse for global warming. 1 L of milk through perfect day produces 0.41 kg of Carbon dioxide, while dairy through cows produces 1.25 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents.

Water

There are 264 million dairy cows in the world. Each one produces (on average) 2,200 L of milk yearly. That’s 580 800 000 000 L of milk produced by cows every year. It takes approximately 1093 L of water to produce 1 L of milk. The water needed to produce 580 800 000 000 L of milk (the milk produced by the 264 million dairy cows yearly) is 634 814 400 000 000 L of water. That’s 253 925 760 Olympic swimming pools worth of water!

Using Perfect day’s milk brewing process, the water needed to produce 1 L of milk will go from 1093 to 19.69 L. In order to produce the same amount of milk cows produce across the world ( 580 800 000 000 L of milk) it would take 11 435 952 000 000 L of water — that’s 4 574 380.8 Olympic pools. This number might seem really big, but compared to the 253 925 760 Olympic pools of water it would take to produce the same amount of milk through cows, it really isn’t.

Energy

Milk takes a significant amount of energy to produce. It takes 1 Mj to produce 1 L of milk trough Perfect Day’s process. It takes more than 6 times as much energy to produce 1 L of milk through dairy farming.

To put 1 Mj into perspective: 1 Mj is equivalent to the kinetic energy of one megagram (tonne) vehicle moving at 161 km/h.

Clearly, the obvious solution is Perfect Day’s dairy products.

How Can Synthetic Milk Proteins Help Us?

These proteins (casein and whey) are what’s missing in the process of dairy alternatives. Plant proteins don’t behave the same way that milk proteins do. Therefore, when trying to create milk or dairy alternatives using plant alternatives (that produce plant proteins) (like almonds or coconuts) the taste will never compare to dairy products made with DAIRY proteins.

It’s hard for people to step away from the dairy products they love for alternatives that don’t even taste good. The only way we can change the way we eat is to not have to change the way we eat. If we can actually produce casein and whey proteins using yeast instead of cows, we can manufacture GOOD TASTING dairy alternatives (that taste like regular dairy products). And if we can sell these products for the same or lower price compared to regular dairy products, people will want to take part in this industry change. If we make the alternatives taste good and reasonably priced there will be a permanent (and much needed) disruption to the food industry.

The production of milk proteins through cellular agriculture will revolutionize the food industry. It will give us the opportunity to produce dairy that tastes GOOD (like “regular” dairy) and that doesn’t destroy the environment.

Also, the demand for dairy proteins will increase as our population increase. The reality is that our current means of producing these proteins through cows is not going to meet the demand required in 2050. We won’t be able to produce enough of the proteins and sustain the resources on the earth.

Producing casein and whey through yeast and sugar fermentation uses 98% less water, 91% less land, has 65% lower global warming potential (GWP)and emits 84% less greenhouse gas than producing through cows.

Since these proteins are a base to other products, we will be able to enjoy pizza, ice cream, butter, custard, mac n’ cheese, various desserts and many more without the help of a single cow without compromising taste.

This is a new dairy industry. Same delicious taste, eco-friendly and lactose-free, working towards smartening the food market.

Read my other article to learn about the problems with the agriculture industry and the solution (cellular agriculture).

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Stay tuned for more disruptive innovations that will change the food industry!