SpaceX Scientist Uses Deep Tech to Make “Moonshot” Vegan Cheeses
Posted On January 11, 2023
The future of vegan cheese is being crafted by Climax Foods, a Berkeley, CA startup founded by Dr. Oliver Zahn, a scientist who previously worked for forward-thinking companies GoogleX, SpaceX, and Impossible Foods.
The startup has thus far raised $27 million to fund its mission of recreating the world’s most desired animal foods by unlocking what it calls a “smarter path from plants to food.” This path is paved by technology supported by two years of rigorous research that resulted in a “deep plant intelligence” platform Climax is using to bring its first products to market.
On the horizon are vegan “moonshot” cheeses—or products that are intended to be disruptive and future-oriented—in four varieties: Blue, Brie, Feta, and Chèvre. Cultured and aged, these cheeses are made with a combination of seeds, legumes, and plant oils, avoiding allergens and GMOs to appeal to a broader consumer base. These cholesterol-free vegan cheeses were also developed to compete with traditional dairy cheeses on taste, nutrition, and price—the three main drivers of purchases.
“We see a bright future as the foundational work that Climax has done to unlock the full flavor potential of plants will open countless doorways to an exciting planet-supporting food industry,” Tom Chi of At One Ventures, a co-founder of GoogleX and one of the company’s early investors, said in a statement.
Can plants really make better cheese than cows? Zahn thinks so. Born in Bavaria, Germany, Zahn’s work is informed by his understanding of the intricacies of space and time and motivated by a desire to affect positive change on a global scale.
“We started from a profound appreciation for the complex flavors and textures of dairy products,” Zahn said in a statement. “Cows have made our milk for thousands of years. However, less than 10 percent of the plants they eat get turned into food for humans,…