By Melissa McCullough Photos Yanni
In Dromana high quality, artisan vegan cheese and butter options for those who do not, or cannot, eat animal products are readily available. Made using traditional handmade techniques, The Vegan Dairy’s journey was born from the love of a mother in memory of her son. From then the businesses journey has continued to evolve with husband and wife co-creators Brittany and Bronson stepping up to the helm.
In 2010 the family suffered a great loss when Brittany’s 14-year-old brother, Reagan, was involved in a scuba diving accident and, despite three weeks in intensive care, he never recovered. Brittany recalls, “At the time my mum, a chef and cooking teacher by trade, picked up a number of ‘activities’ to help her through her grief.” One of those was a course in handcrafted cheesemaking and this quickly became something she developed a deep affection for, as cheese was something Reagan loved. In keeping herself busy she made too many cheeses for our family and started giving them away to friends. And then there was too much for the friends and those friends gave some to other friends. Eventually everyone wanted more and more and her own dairy cheese making business began.
As her business grew and grew, she brought Brittany in to lend a helping hand. At the time, Brittany was vegetarian and was excited for the opportunity to help get beautiful cheeses into the market that were animal rennet free. Brittany says, “Since then I have learned about some amazing cheese making techniques (and made some challenging blunders) that have enabled me to experiment with my own ideas.”
Enter the accidental beauty that has become The Vegan Dairy.
For Brittany and Bronson, being vegetarian for several years, preferring to eat lighter food options without sacrificing taste or quality, and finding alternatives that truly rivalled “the real thing” was a big challenge. Brittany decided to use what she learnt from working with her mum to do something about it so that they had delicious dairy-free options at home. Their first product was the Persian Feta. “We didn’t plan for The Vegan Dairy to become a business. We simply gave my mum some jars of our dairy-free feta, at her request, to take to the markets for her lactose intolerant customers and they loved it!”, said Brittany. When everyone started coming back over and over, The Vegan Dairy came to life.
“Coming from a cheese-making background gave us the insight into traditional cheese making methods that could be applied to vegan versions, and also enabled us to play with flavours with a better understanding of how our products should taste if they were to rival dairy,” Brittany says. And though they have done a good job so far, they are always experimenting and working on new things and ideas. Bronson has unexpectedly now become an enthusiastic (and extremely talented) budding vegan cheesemaker. Of Bronson, Brittany says, “He balances out my methodical ways with his creative nature continuously encouraging me to push the boundaries of what you “can” and “cannot” do in cheesemaking.”
Aside from just being kind to the planet through creating amazing plant-based foods, they also believe in reducing their businesses environmental impact by opting for carefully selected packaging alternatives that reduce waste and place a value on reusable and sustainable options.
“All our glass jars are a custom-designed, regular mouth, mason jar with a leak proof and airtight lid,” boasts Brittany. This means that you can reuse your glass jar over and over, rather than sending that jar into the waste system. She continues, “Unfortunately, glass is no longer recycled much in Australia so the more we can avoid putting in the bin, whichever bin it is, the better!” And if you’re really keen to reduce waste, you can even return your empty clean jars to them and they will sterilise and reuse them. They also have an on-site composting facility and certified home compostable film packaging.
The Vegan Dairy family are open to suggestions from the public about varieties and flavours and if it is possible, they are happy to give it a go. Most of all, they hope everyone loves their creations as much as they do.
The Vegan Dairy is located at 2/11 Trewhitt Court, Dromana and are open to the public Tuesday to Friday 8am – 3pm.