Danish startup CheeseItYourself recently developed a vegan cheese product that minimizes liquid waste. The startup was formed by four technologists—Hernán Gómez and Carmen Masiá from Spain and Ioanna Anagnostara and Panagiota Dima from Greece—who came together for the common goal of reducing food waste while working on a masters program at the Technical University of Denmark. CheeseItYourself is made with cashews and comes in powder form, allowing users to create their own cheese by adding liquid ingredients that would typically be wasted—such as “aquafaba” (or the brine leftover from a can of chickpeas)—to the mixture, cooking it for five minutes, and refrigerating the resulting base to create solid cheese that lasts for four to five days. “We looked at the market and saw that among vegans there was a demand for quality cheese as part of their diet,” Masiá said. “A number of vegan cheeses already exist in the market. They are most often spreadable and based on coconut oil and water. They have a low protein content and nutritional value—an obvious drawback given that vegans need the proteins they don’t get from meat. In addition, many consumers think current options taste artificial, with the quality leaving something to be desired. In other words, there’s a market for a new, unique product,” says Carmen Masiá. 

The cheese powder comes in biodegradable packaging that furthers the team’s mission. “We wanted a product that to the greatest extent possible aligned itself with the intentions of the UN’s sustainability goals,” Gómez said. In terms of our product, this primarily means reduced food waste—but it doesn’t stop there. Since there is no water in the product, it also has a low weight, which in turn has a positive impact on transport and thus climate footprint. We had four parameters to live up to: Environment, food waste, nutrition, and price. And we’ve succeeded with all four aspects.” The startup has already received interest from the restaurant sector and is looking for industrial partners to scale production.