by Priscilla Feral
I met Miyoko Schinner at the San Francisco Vegetarian Festival more than a decade ago. She’s a captivating speaker.
Then in 2012, I traveled to northern California to spend a week in her kitchen, taking a vegan cooking class with six other women. We learned how to make mozzarella, cheddar, butter, bread, and much more–covering dozens of recipes that I still adore to this day. If we made mistakes while producing a recipe, Miyoko showed us how to fix anything.
She was just as dynamic in the kitchen as she was on stage at the festival. Clearly, she’s masterful at producing recipes and in fostering your belief she can do anything. Hands down, she’s also a pioneer when it comes to culturing plant-based milks.
Miyoko has always been driven by her passion for animals and desire to create a more compassionate world. That means shattering the myth that the dairy industry has “happy cows.”
She shared with me that she sees dairy farms and beef operations all the time and has had a front row seat to the hutches where calves are taken away. And she reminds us, “Milk is worse than meat because eventually, every dairy cow ends up slaughtered as hamburger.” In torpedoing the dairy industry, at least 25 percent of the meat industry falls away, she says.
Later in 2014, Friends of Animals helped sponsor Vegan Mash-up, which Miyoko co-hosted, which aired on public television. She also authored books, including The Homemade Vegan Pantry, which includes her famous vegan butter recipe – boxes of which are always in my refrigerator along with cheeses I’ve made using recipes from her Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook.
Also in 2014, Miyoko founded and became CEO of a vegan business called Miyoko’s Creamery with at least nine varieties of cheese. After I had returned from her cooking class, and spent three days making mozzarella, I decided to start purchase hers rather than creating my own. Now the company’s products are sold in more than 20,000 retailers.
Unfortunately, the wheels fell off last summer, when Miyoko was ousted as CEO. On Feb. 16, 2023, the company’s press release said the its rapid growth “required a CEO capable of taking on the increased responsibilities that come with an expanding business and the management of a larger company.”
Our community of her admirers were in shock.
I recently spoke with Miyoko and she says she’ll share her full story in time. She revealed she’s still a director yet kept out of company business. She’s worried that what was once her baby might change and never be the same.
“I will have to find out in the marketplace just like everyone else. In any case, we can assume that the direction desired by the board was different than what I envisioned for the company.” Miyoko said.
It’s a cautionary tale of what vegan businesses are up against if they want to expand and be available to everybody. The board members are mostly investors. How many multi-million-dollar investors are vegan? These investors walk into the door with their expectations. Profit is their bottom line.
Miyoko does not go so far as to say boycott Miyoko’s Creamery products. After all she created the company to make the world a better place for animals. People can help most by writing to Miyoko’s Creamery or posting on their social media to let them know how they feel. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.