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Ellie Wells and Tosh Nakagawa had worked together in the dairy industry for over a decade. After opting for plant-based diets for health and animal welfare reasons, the duo decided to start a vegan cultured drink company called Yoi.
Change for the planet
Ellie Wells and Tosh Nakagawa have decided to limit their dairy and meat products to improve their health, support animal welfare and promote a sustainable lifestyle.
âWe saw the opportunity and thought, ‘How can we apply our knowledge and experience in cultured dairy products to create healthy and tasty plant-based cultured foods? â, Said co-founder Nakagawa in a statement.
Yoi, which means good in Japanese, has just launched its nut and seed probiotic milks at local independent retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Flavored drinks are created in small batches and use organic ingredients like almonds, coconut, and pumpkin seeds.
âWe’re thrilled with the drink we’ve created,â said Wells, co-founder of Yoi. âIt was non-negotiable for us that Yoi was organic and with an excellent nutritional profile – a high number of probiotics as well as prebiotic fiber and vegetable protein, no added sugar – while still tasting great. So we looked at quite a few different ideas and iterations before we landed on the products we wanted to bring to market. “
Dairy industry in decline
The US $ 700 billion dairy industry faces crisis as growing numbers of consumers demand sustainable plant-based alternatives. This is due to the health awareness stimulated by the pandemic and a greater need to protect the interests of the environment. In the United States alone, two of the largest dairy manufacturers have gone bankrupt.
According to GRAIN, the top 10 dairy companies in the world contribute carbon emissions equivalent to France’s total carbon emissions. Industry is linked to damaged soils, pollution of the oceans and the misuse of land resources.
We saw the opportunity and thought, âHow can we apply our knowledge and experience in cultured dairy products to create healthy and tasty plant-based cultured foods?
Tosh Nakagawa, co-founder, Yoi
Read: Animal-free dairy products are here. But is it vegan?
Yoi draws on the ancient art and techniques of Japanese fermentation and the concept of ikigai. Nakagawa added, “Ikigai means ‘your purpose’, or what gets you out of bed in the morning. We want to create products that help people feel good so they can do good. is our ikigai.
At a virtual symposium hosted by the Good Food Institute (GFI), experts in the alternative protein industry highlighted the critical role of fermentation in feeding 10 billion people through a sustainable food system by 2050.
It was non-negotiable for us that Yoi was organic and with an excellent nutritional profile – a high number of probiotics as well as prebiotic fiber and vegetable protein, with no added sugar.
Ellie Wells, Co-Founder, Yoi
The drink comes in flavors like strawberry, vanilla bean, pineapple and cocoa bean.
Read: The Rise of Fermentation: 8 Things You Should Know About Third Alt Protein Technology
Main image courtesy of Yoi.