Happy Heart Vegan Gourmet—the only vegan cheese company in Canada to use traditional French cheese-making methods—launched last month in Ottawa, Ontario. Founders Fabio and Maria Variola use 100-percent plant-based bacterial and mold cultures to create cheeses in traditional French styles such as Petit Bleu, Cendré, and Épicé, which are aged up to six weeks in a controlled environment of precise humidity levels and temperature. “Our vegan cheese ingredients and methods are identical to their dairy counterparts with the sole exception that our milk is raw and plant-based,” Founder Maria Variola told VegNews. “And all cultures are of vegan origin only, so it’s as authentic as it gets.” The Variolas tested their handmade products in the European market by hosting wine-and-cheese parties in cities throughout Italy, Spain, and France over the course of one year, and used taste-testers’ feedback to improve the cheeses before launching in Canada. Happy Heart uses 100-percent compostable packaging and shipping materials, and are working to create new compostable packaging materials. The vegan French artisan cheese category continues to grow as evidenced by French cheese company Les Petits Veganne which debuted its vegan cheeses in France earlier this year.