In the U.S., we’re a little spoiled when it comes to vegan cheese — especially if you live near, say, a Whole Foods or alternative supermarket that specializes in a lot of “health” products. Looking for some vegan mozzarella for your next homemade pizza? Do you want Daiya, Follow Your Heart, Miyoko’s Creamery, MozzaRisella, or Cheezehound with that? …You get it. We’re a nation who unabashedly loves their cheese — but we’re not the only country. France, for example, is famous for its love of cheese, from creamy Camembert, soft, spreadable brie, comté, and more. And like Miyoko Schinner and others have pioneered the artisanal cheese movement in the United States, one woman in France is introducing Paris to the world of fancy vegan cheese.
Situated in the XIth arrondissement of Paris is Jay&Joy, France’s first all-vegan cheese shop. Although the shop’s founder, Venezuelan-born Mary Iriarte Jähnke, has been making vegan cheese for years with her husband, the shop was originally unplanned.
According to French news site Liberation, the shop’s location was originally Jähnke’s “laboratory” where she would make fermented vegan cheese to sell to specialty shops.
However, Jähnke and her team found that their cheese-making lab earned a lot of attention from those who were just passing by. It was then that they decided to transform their kitchen into a sales space.
Jähnke didn’t always dream of opening a shop — it wasn’t even part of her original plan. She told Liberation, “Three years ago, when we started, it was not so developed. Sometimes we wondered what we had embarked on. We were scared.”
Since opening the shop, Jähnke has also developed a plant-based yogurt made from rice and foie gras made from cashews, but it’s the vegan cheese that attracts people’s curiosity.
Surprisingly, most of Jay&Joy’s customers are not vegan or vegetarian. Jähnke notes that many of them come to her shop due to dairy allergies or curiosity.
According to Jähnke, tourists make up a large portion of her customer base as well: “The products are made in France and tourists appreciate this very much. They are happy to find small shops in Paris. ” Although she’s made her mark in Paris, Jähnke does not plan to stay there. She plans on moving elsewhere in order to continue to grow her business and eventually, export her product – we’ll be waiting for that day.
Love vegan cheese? Us, too — and it’s amazing that we live at a time when we have so much choice when it comes to finding vegan cheese in stores. But did you know that it’s easy to make vegan cheese at home, too? We highly recommend checking out the Food Monster app, a food and recipe app available for both Android and iPhone. Not only will you find plant-based versions of artisanal cheeses such as Gouda, Bleu cheese, and gorgonzola, you’ll also find American cheese, cream cheese, and more. Not to mention, the app has 8,000+ vegan recipes with 10+ recipes added daily, vegan cooking tips, how-to’s, a meal plan feature, and more! What are you waiting for? Give it a try!
All image source: Unbound Project/Facebook