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Mindful Mortal Cheese offers a transition to veganism through skull-shaped, dairy-free cheese

Mindful Mortal Cheese offers a transition to veganism through skull-shaped, dairy-free cheese

Mindful Mortal Cheese offers a transition to veganism through skull-shaped, dairy-free cheese
October 01
12:00 2020

Pounds of cashews are pulsed into a paste with seasonings, then set in skull-shaped molds and formed into blocks of vegan cheese. For Aspen Carter and Emily Sanchez, UNT graduates and owners of Mindful Mortal Cheese, creating and selling vegan cheese is important for environmental sustainability. 

“We are trying to prioritize being sustainable, like using packaging that is recyclable and reducing as much plastic as possible,” Emily said.  “It’s in the name [of our business], we are mindful people that are trying to make somewhat of an impact.”

The vegan cheese is handmade in Emily and Carter’s kitchen and has a significant environmental impact, said friend Yoci Reed. 

“Choosing a vegan alternative to cheese is economically and [environmentally] friendly,” Reed said. 

Aspen, who is vegan, inspired their partner to start experimenting with vegan cheeses. Initially, they didn’t have plans to create a business, but their cheese attracted customers across the area. 

“It started with friends and family and it blew up when the Dallas Morning News covered us,” Emily said. “We got in contact with a nonprofit that helps with small business growth and that helped us with all of the information that we needed.”

To Emily’s sister Ivey Sanchez, the Mindful Mortal cheeses share a stark similarity to dairy cheese and could help ease the transition into veganism. 

“I was pretty firmly against vegan cheese because I hadn’t found one that I liked,” Ivey said. “Being able to have a recipe that mirrors regular cheese could be really beneficial for those kinds of people that were like me [who] aren’t ready to transition completely.”

The cheese comes in multiple flavors including sharp cheddar, mozzarella and allergen-friendly cheddar. Each block of cheese is formed into a skull in order to give the cheese more character, Carter says. 

With a focus on customer feedback, Carter and Emily strive to create cheeses the community desires. 

“They’ve been really adaptable with their flavors and they’ve let customers come and try new flavors and adjust recipes based on feedback,” Ivey said. 

Reed said the business, which was created in July, has become very efficient in a short amount of time. 

“I’ve never met more adaptable people than Emily and Aspen,” Reed said. “They made this business in less than two weeks, more overnight than anything. Now, the process is super streamlined and is a 30-minute process.”

Since Mindful Mortal Cheese received a lot of attention when it first started, Carter and Emily faced struggles in operating a new small business. 

“At first, they were really overwhelmed but they’ve grown really quickly because they had to because of how quickly their business grew,” Ivey said. 

All cheeses are handmade using cashews or sunflowers as a base and letting it mold for four to five hours, Emily said. 

With a focus on social issues, Carter and Emily seek to provide representation to the LGBTQ+ community through representation.

“Putting that we’re a queer-owned business at the forefront [is important to us],” Carter said. “People have said, ‘You saying that you’re queer and not caring what people have to say has inspired me.’”

However, Emily said the company has faced opposition due to its transparency. 

“And on the opposite end, we’ve gotten a couple of people asking, ‘Why does [being queer] matter?’” Emily said. “The more representation that minority groups have, the more normalized we become.”

Ivey said having queer representation can create a strong network between local businesses.

“Having representation and being open is really important, especially right now within our community,” Ivey said. “It encourages others to be out and be proud of who they are and support other locally-owned businesses.”

By echoing the flavors of dairy cheese and aiming to keep prices accessible, Mindful Mortal Cheese hopes to encourage people to limit their ecological impact by purchasing vegan alternatives. 

“There is almost no difference between [both cheeses],” Reed said. “The mozzarella is exact. [The similarities make it] a little spooky.”

Featured Image: Aspen Carter (Left) and Emily Sanchez (Right) utilize vegan cheese to craft them into designs such as skulls and gravestones. Image by Quincy Palmer

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Anvitha Reddy

Anvitha Reddy

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