Lab Milk: Your Questions, Answered
As more and more consumers have looked for non-dairy alternatives to their favourite staple products, the vegan milk space has been rising to the challenge of creating dairy-free options. So where does lab milk fit into this, and what is it? Read on for what you need to know.
What is lab milk?
Lab milk is a type of dairy-free milk, but unlike existing vegan milks that are made from plants, lab milk is made using yeast and milk protein made, unsurprisingly, in a lab. Using a combination of science and tech, lab milk can effectively replicate the taste of milk and other dairy products without having to milk the animals.
How is lab milk made?
Lab milk is made through a process of extracting the casein and whey proteins from dairy milk and inserting them into a specific type of yeast which can then replicate the cells in plant form. This yeast is fermented with sugar then made into a powder which is then mixed with water and fortified with vitamins.
Can we make milk without cows?
Lab milk needs the DNA found in dairy milk to be manufactured, so it does need this initial protein. The proteins are retrieved from milk producing cows — when they are milked, some stem cells end up in the milk which can be obtained and used to make lab milk. This way, no animal is harmed and it's not invasive. After this initial retrieval of cells, the milk is made without cows entirely.
Is lab milk vegan?
Technically, lab milk is considered vegan by manufacturers, due to the fact it is made from yeast. Some may argue that lab milk uses cow proteins and so is also a byproduct of animals – however it is generally considered to be vegan.
Is lab milk sustainable?
Lab milk is being touted as a great vegan milk alternative because a massive advantage is that it is much more sustainable than dairy milk and has a positive impact on plant-milks, too. This is because lab milk will alleviate some of the pressure on dairy farming, but it will also inspire plant-milk drinkers to switch to lab milk too, which will take pressure off growing certain products like almonds, which comes with its own drawbacks, such as water consumption. Being able to diversify where we get our non-dairy products is a great thing, and is more sustainable this way in the long run.
Is it available to drink?
Lab milk is not in the mass production phase yet, though a company in the US, Perfect Day, has begun rolling out their products to the public after being approved by the FDA. While there are startups in the UK looking into lab milk, it’s unlikely to hit supermarkets that soon.
Got any other questions about cow’s milk? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get back to you!
By Toni Olukiran
Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at her last count) or playing tennis in the park.