In recent years, the vegan cheese industry has experienced an incredible transformation, captivating taste buds around the globe with its innovative creations. From creamy camemberts to zesty pepper jack and even stretchy mozzarella, plant-based alternatives are no longer a distant dream for those seeking dairy-free delights.
One of the most exciting aspects of the vegan cheese industry is the incredible variety available. With a plethora of nut-based, soy-based, and even vegetable-based options, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
But why are we talking about vegan cheese, when ZipGrow is all about growing fresh greens?
Read on as you meet Lynda Turner, founder and CEO of Fauxmagerie Zengarry, an artisanal cheesemaker using raw cashews combined with hydroponic herbs for an abundance of flavor.
Prepare yourselves for our cheesiest blog yet, where we promise to keep the cheese puns to a minimum, but let’s be honest, this business is just too grate to resist!
Spread a little Zen
Located in Alexandria, Ontario, Canada, Fauxmagerie Zengarry is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year as the producer of “an extraordinary dairy-free cheese experience.” Founder and CEO, Lynda Turner, has witnessed remarkable growth in the plant-based food industry over the past decade. “We pretty much started off when the category was just developing, so we were lucky enough to kind of be a pioneer in the vegan cheese category, and now it’s evolving as it moves from natural health to mainstream grocery,
At the heart of Fauxmagerie Zengarry’s cheese lies responsibly sourced raw cashews, soaked, blended, and aged with a plant-based probiotic. But what sets Lynda’s business apart from other vegan cheese makers is the freshness of her ingredients, infusing each cheese with mouthwatering flavors. The garlic is sourced locally, and the herbs? Well, they couldn’t get any closer—grown indoors at the production facility using ZipGrow™ Towers.
“Because we are using fresh herbs our flavor profile is bolder.” proudly explains Lynda.
Handmade in small batches in their commercial kitchen, Fauxmagerie Zengarry boasts a tantalizing range of flavors, including bestsellers like Sundried Tomato & Basil and Garlic and Fine Herbs, as well as the newest additions, Zesty Dill and Blueberry & Rosemary. In total, you can experience ten flavors of Zen!
The fresh herbs are grown in-house and carefully picked at the peak of freshness from their living walls, which include a double sided Education Rack and two Farm Walls™. Lynda imports additional herbs as required to meet production demands but her aim is to grow 100% of their herbs on site.
“The whole goal is to use them fresh. This reduces food waste, elimites shipping and all the packaging that those herbs would come in.”
Sweet dreams are made of (vegan) cheese
When Lynda first started the business in 2013, she was importing all the herbs until she stumbled upon a local company that was growing greens hydroponically. “I thought, ‘I’ll just put these Towers in and grow the herbs myself.’ That plan led her to purchase several hydroponic systems from ZipGrow. “I was really happy with the whole setup.”
As a former ecotoxicologist with a degree in biology, Lynda worked for Health Canada for over 20 years. “The environment is something that always amazes and interests me. It’s how I transitioned into this and being an entrepreneur.”
In 2010, Lynda made the switch from a vegetarian diet to a plant-based one. “It was like learning to cook all over again. People become really ingrained in using those methods with dairy and eggs to cook. When you make a change like that, it really opens your eyes and you start to cook, eat, experience and think differently.”
Image: The recipe ideas on Fauxmagerie Zengarry’s YouTube channel are a great source of inspiration for healthy vegan meals.
Lynda strongly believes that plant-based eating is crucial for addressing the climate crisis. But it’s not just an ideology; the global plant-based food market was valued at $12.69 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $74.2 billion by 2027.
“Having delicious, convenient plant based alternatives is really important , so that people have a choice.”
Lynda has developed her business over the years by attending trade events from coast to coast.
This year they were a sponsor at Expo Manger Santé, the must-attend event in Quebec on new trends in healthy eating, ecology and global health. Other shows include Planted Expo, the National Women’s Show and Vegfest.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Fauxmagerie Zengarry migrated to an online model of promotion, but Lynda is thrilled to get back to seeing people in person, providing taste tests and educating consumers on veganism.
“Face-to-face education and actually getting the product into peoples mouths is a big part of what we do.”
Would you like some wine jelly with your creamy vegan cheese? - oh yes please that sounds gouda
The cheeses from Fauxmagerie Zengarry are carefully packaged and shipped from their spacious 9000+ square foot facility in insulated recyclable shippers, ensuring that they remain fresh during transit. Lynda is a strong advocate for collaboration, and as the business expanded its online presence and ecommerce store, they partnered with like-minded vendors whose products are vegan, ethically sourced, and undeniably delicious. Many of these vendors are women-owned businesses and proudly Canadian brands.
“A lot of these brands have really cool back stories and it’s great to be able to support them too.”
Fauxmagerie Zengarry has gained excellent coverage in National Health chains and has established accounts with national retailers, including IGA, Metro, and Sobeys to name a few.
“When I started out, there were not many people following a plant based diet, it was just starting to evolve and become a little more known and now you can find plant based alternatives in every store.”
By golly cheese got it!
Lynda’s dedication to her craft and commitment to providing exceptional products have been recognized and supported. She received grant funding through My Main Street, which enabled her to upgrade her space, separating the storefront from the production and office areas, creating a beautiful setting for sampling experiences with the living farm walls as a captivating backdrop.
You can check out all the amazing flavors of Fauxmagerie Zengarry on their online store including the award winning Creamy Swiss voted “Best Vegan Swiss Cheese in the World” at the 2023 vegan cheese awards.
“What I often remind people of is that some of the strongest animals on earth are vegan, like Gorillas and cows. How do cows get their calcium? from plants!”