Megan Schmitt began dabbling in plant-based cheesemaking six years ago, while she was transitioning from vegetarian to vegan. After receiving overwhelmingly positive responses from both vegans and non-vegans, her company Cheeze & Thank You was born.
Schmitt found that nobody was making the kind of “artisanal, funky, and interesting” plant-based cheeses she wanted to see, with many of the available options falling short in terms of taste and texture. She set out to make types of vegan cheese that couldn’t be found at grocery stores.
Soon, friends were encouraging Schmitt to sell her cheeses at local markets and events, where a Whole Foods buyer tried them and was impressed. Shortly afterwards, Cheeze & Thank You launched at the chain’s stores in Chicago.
Cheeze & Thank You’s products are made with a range of ingredients, such as soy, nuts, and seeds. Flavours include Dill Havarti, Fontina, and Pesto Gouda, alongside more familiar options such as Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Feta.
In the near future, Schmitt hopes to roll out her cheeses at Whole Foods stores nationally, as well as starting a plant-based Italian deli. But she isn’t stopping there.
“I’d love Cheeze & Thank You to be available at all major grocery stores as well as independently owned shops,” she told VegNews.
Growth of the plant-based cheese market
Data from sustainability platform abillion shows that interest in vegan cheese increased by 2.6 times between July 2020 and June 2021. The global market is expected to be worth $5.64 billion by 2028, growing with a CAGR of 12.4%. Consumer concerns about animal welfare and sustainability are said to be the main drivers.
“Vegan cheese has come a long way. Today’s variations, according to reviews from the abillion community, are as good as the real thing,” said Vikas Garg, founder of abillion. “Consumers care about sustainability and are backing their values with their purchase decision.”