Tyne Chease Ltd - Why we do what we do!


We often get asked questions with hard to articulate answers, such as, "Why do you do what you do?", "What made you start making vegan chease?" and "What makes your company different form others?". There are so many perceived pitfalls in answering questions such as these. What if I reveal too much? What if people don't like what I say or what if I say the wrong thing?

However, I have recently become more comfortable in our stance on certain issues and so this post will hopefully provide a deeper insight into why we do what we do here at Tyne Chease. We'll tell you a bit about our founding, our team, our values, what we look for in our suppliers, and how we want our products to be seen. So sit back, put your feet up and I'll try not to rabble on too much.


OUR FOUNDING!

Tyne Chease Ltd was founded back in 2014 by Ami after she had been working tirelessly to create a vegan chease that she and her vegan family could enjoy on its own. Though it took about 2 years of trial and error, a handful of breakdowns and countless thoughts of hopelessness and self doubt, Ami finally got there and thus, Tyne Chease was born.

I (James) worked a full time job as a chef, which supported us both in the early days, allowing Ami to focus on Tyne Chease, which in the early days wasn't able to provide any pay for Ami as every penny of profit went back into building the business. Since then we've grown as organically as possible, through word of mouth mostly, and slowly gaining recognition in and outside the vegan community that Ami and I dearly love.

In Feb 2018, I came on board, leaving the security of my full time job which had kept our lives financially stable in the first few years. It was a big risk, especially as at the time Ami was pregnant with our first child Abe, whom, if you follow us, you will have likely seen plastered on several of our Tyne Chease posts (more on the reasons for this later). Risks aside, I wanted to be home as much as possible for Ami and Abe, not working 60+ hours a week. So, I came on board and joined Ami as Director, and slowly over the next few months I took the reins of Tyne Chease, allowing Ami to focus on Abe.

I remember in those first months of parenthood, Ami sitting on the couch at home breastfeeding Abe on one side with her laptop open on the other, doing small bits of work like social media posts, writing draft emails for me etc, while I was in the next room on the computer doing everything else. As Abe got older, Ami was able to take on a lot more work. Christmas, which is our busiest period of the year, saw me working 12-13 hour days, coming home at 5pm to take over parenting from Ami, while she went to work a late evening shift so we could cater for the demand. It was hard, I missed out on a lot of Abe's early years, but it meant that our staff at the time didn't have as much added pressure, and it helped keep morale high and allowed us to get more chease to our customers, so I considered it worthwhile. Over the years we have seen an increased demand at Christmas and each year we staff more and more. This year, we had our second child to account for, so we took a step back and let our amazing team do what they do best, excel! And boy did they do just that!

We now have the largest nut-based chease product range in the UK and an amazing team, without who, we couldn't do what we do.


OUR FOUNDERS!

Ami and I are passionate vegans, it's something that is as important to us as breathing, and as with most things there are many reasons why being vegan is important to us. For Ami, she has been vegan since birth. Her mum decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle during her pregnancy in 1990 and the entire family has never looked back. So Ami really has known nothing other than being a vegan. I slowly transitioned to a vegan lifestyle shortly after meeting Ami over 12 years ago, though the transition took a few years as I educated myself in the philosophy and belief system that is veganism. We now consider ourselves vegan for many reasons - for the animals, to end unnecessary cruelty and suffering, for the environment, for our health, the list goes on. But ultimately, we are vegan for everyone else.

OUR VALUES!

Our personal views follow through to our company values too. At Tyne Chease we have a heavy focus on employee wellbeing. We have flexible working hours throughout the majority of the year, so there's no such thing as being late which is a key trigger of stress in the workplace. Employee pay is higher than average and we also run things slightly different than a lot of other workplaces. Though we 'employ' our staff, we try not to operate to the classic employer/employee dynamic. Instead, we try to operate in much the same way as a family would. We support where we can, we laugh, we joke, we have copious amounts of banter. Our team is at the core of our business, without them we simply cannot function, so they are treated as such.

As we accept that not everyone is going to be adopting a vegan lifestyle in the near future, we decided to incorporate this view into how and where we sell our products, we've sold our products and continue to do so in independent health food shops, grocers, delicatessens, cheese shops, restaurants vegan and non-vegan alike among many other outlets - we even had our products in a butchers at one point. We feel by targeting everyone, our reach can be more effective with the simple message of, "You don't have to be a vegan to enjoy vegan products, they are accessible to everyone."

With our suppliers, we try as much as possible to work with local suppliers, but this isn't always possible. There aren't many requirements, certifications or memberships to professional bodies etc. we look for in our supply chain, as we feel this limits smaller businesses supplying us. The only one we do have currently in place is for our cashews which forms the base of our products. As the farming and production of cashews is rife with hazards, from acid burns to unfair pay, we only consider suppliers that are members of SEDEX which is one of the world's leading ethical trade membership organisations, focusing on working with businesses across every sector to improve working conditions in supply chains, protect workers and enable businesses to source ethically and operate responsibly and sustainably.



OUR PRODUCTS!

Our products are handmade with organic cashew nuts and were the first of their kind (their kind being artisan cashew 'chease') to be sold commercially in the UK back in 2014. Unlike other vegan cheese alternatives available at the time, our products weren't designed to imitate the melting component of dairy based cheese. In fact, they weren't designed to imitate any specific dairy cheese at all.

The idea for our products was for them to be able to hold their own on a cheeseboard of any kind. In much the same way as halloumi and cheddar are both called cheese, but are very different in taste, texture and production methods, we wanted to create a product that in essence was just a different way of making what we decided to call 'chease'. Instead of using dairy milk, then adding rennet to curdle it and finally pressing and ageing the curds into cheese, we decided to use cashews as our base, add the culturing bacteria, age and then form our rounds ending with a final round of ageing.

Our products are inspired by many things, but predominantly they are flavours from our past. Our Ethiopian Spice is inspired by Ami's childhood growing up in Ethiopia; our Za'atar Spice was inspired by our time living and working in Dubai, where we spent many an afternoon by the Creek, drinking mint tea and eating za'atar manakish; our Provençal was inspired by our summer's walking through fields of lavender in Provence, the place where I proposed to Ami. Each of our core products holds a special place in our hearts.

THE CHEESE DRUG!

Here at Tyne Chease, we don't like the term 'vegan cheese alternative', though in some cases we are subject to its use. We feel this term unnecessarily invokes a choice of one or the other, making people feel that in order to have a vegan cheese alternative, they must give up the cheese.

Dairy cheese contains casein which when consumed releases casomorphins which in turn trigger dopamine production in your brain. Dopamine is the 'feel good' chemical, the same one that cocaine use triggers, meaning that in essence, dairy cheese is mildly addictive. This is why for a huge number of vegetarians, cheese is the hardest to give up in their transition to a vegan diet.

We feel that not using the term 'alternative' and not trying to replicate any specific dairy cheese, allows us to reach more people struggling with their transition. When you eat, for example, a mozzarella 'alternative', you will undoubtedly be comparing it to mozzarella, and you'll think back to those times you've eaten mozzarella and how it made you 'feel good' and the 'alternative' is more likely to pale in comparison, in my opinion. Using our methods, customers are less likely to make a comparison and we feel they are more likely to consider the product in its own right.


WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO?

Put as simply as possible, we do what we do for our kids. We work hard so we can eventually have time to spend as a family when we want, and so we can watch our kids grow and not miss out. This is why we feature our kids in our social media posts, they are the reason we are in business; every sale we make improves their future and the future of our team.

We also want to show the world that it is possible and easy to be vegan, we want to remove the stigma on the word 'vegan'. We feel that the only future we have as a global people is a compassionate future and we accept that everyone adopting a vegan lifestyle is an unrealistic goal. What we want is to educate people as much as we can, show the world a better, easier way to live and trust in people to be compassionate for the future.

That being said, we are still a small company with a lot to learn ourselves, and there's likely many more things we can do to be better for the world and its people, so we always take advice and listen to our customers, and try to work with them to create the compassionate future we believe is possible.

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