Miyoko Schinner
Schinner delivering keynote address at Animal Equality Gala 2017
Schinner delivering keynote address at Animal Equality Gala 2017
BornMiyoko Nishimoto
OccupationVegan cookbook author and cooking show chef
social entrepreneur
Alma materSt. John's College (Annapolis/Santa Fe), B.A. Philosophy
SubjectVegan cookbooks
Notable worksThe New Now and Zen Epicure: Gourmet Cuisine for the Enlightened Palate (2001)
Artisan Vegan Cheese (2012)
The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples (2015)
The Vegan Meat Cookbook: Meatless Favorites. Made with Plants (2021)

Miyoko Schinner (née Nishimoto, born 1957)[1] is an American vegan chef, cookbook author, cooking show host, vegan activist, and social entrepreneur, who appears in the 2024 documentary, You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment.[2] She is currently the host of the YouTube cooking show, The Vegan Good Life with Miyoko, and is working on her next cookbook, The Vegan Creamery, which will be released in 2025.[3]

Early life and education

Schinner was born in the 1950s,[4] in a town outside of Tokyo, Japan as Miyoko Nishimoto.[5] She left Japan and moved to the United States when she was seven.[5] Schinner and her family settled in Marin County, specifically in Mill Valley, California.[6]

Schinner became a vegetarian at the age of 12.[7][8] She describes this period as "the 60s and early 70s, the glory days of the hippie movement and spiritualism and hare krishna," or the turn to natural foods within the American counterculture.[7] Her initial exposure to this movement occurred during a camping trip that included vegetarians who "were from a spiritual family and didn't believe in harming animals. I went home and my mother put pork chops in front of me after being vegetarian for two or three days. I looked at the pork chop and just could not eat it. I stopped right there."[7] Schinner's mother did not support this shift towards vegetarian dishes, forcing Schinner to teach herself how to cook. However, Schinner credits this period as the time that she grew to love cooking.[7] Although this interest in cooking led her to consider culinary school, she ultimately decided not to attend (as she would have to work with animal products), and is entirely self-taught.[7]

Schinner began college at the Pratt Institute in order to study graphic design, but dropped out after a year.[8] She eventually transferred to St. John's College in Annapolis,[5] and graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy.[8] After graduating from college, Schinner developed a number of vegan ventures through the lens of social entrepreneurship.

Madam Miyoko (1980s)

During the 1980s, Schinner returned to Japan and settled in Tokyo.[6][9] During this period she transitioned to a vegan diet[10][11] for "health reasons" (she realized that she was lactose intolerant).[7] As she began to explore how to create vegan dishes for herself, she decided to sell her creations. She started a small business called "Madam Miyoko"[12] and sold vegan poundcakes (made of Okara), out of her backpack.[9] However, she missed cheese, describing the 80s as the "dark ages of vegan cheese" still dominated by "hippies and macrobiotic food."[7] She briefly visited the United States during this time to attend the Natural Products Expo, where she tasted "Vegan Rella," the only vegan cheese product available at the time. However, she found it disappointing and began to dream of alternatives.[7]

Now and Zen (1988-2003)


Schinner eventually returned to the United States and settled in San Francisco, where in 1988 she opened a vegan bakery. It eventually evolved into the vegan Now and Zen Restaurant.[9][12] During the holiday season, she would make the vegan Unturkey (a seitan roast with a yuba shell), which she exhibited at the 1995 Natural Products Expo (and ended up with $50,000 worth of orders).[12]

Natural Food Company

In 1997, Schinner sold the restaurant and created a vegan natural foods company called Now and Zen that focused on The Unturkey.[12][13] However, as more orders came in for the Unturkey as well as different products, Schinner found herself overwhelmed. She also found investors more interested in investing in tech, as it was the dot-com boom. In addition, she had "married shortly before starting the café, and three months after they opened the door she gave birth to her second child. In fact, her water broke on the restaurant floor during lunch hour. Then, the head chef quit and his replacement turned out to have a heroin problem. Her mother, who’d needed Miyoko’s care in her last few years of life, died in 2000, and within a few months her father began to fade, also requiring end-of-life care until his passing in 2002. Finally, in 2003 Miyoko called it quits."[12][9][13]


During this period, Schinner produced three vegan cookbooks. VegNews listed The New Now and Zen Epicure as one of the "Top 100 Vegan Cookbooks of All Time" in 2024.[14]

Cooking shows (2012-present)

Schinner co-hosted the PBS cooking show Vegan Mashup for three seasons (2012-2016)[15] with Toni Fiore and Terry Hope Romero.[16]

In 2023, she launched the YouTube cooking show, The Vegan Good Life with Miyoko.[17]

Artisan Vegan Cheese (2012)

In 2012, Schinner published another cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese, with The Book Publishing Company that focused entirely on the production of vegan cheese. In 2021, Food & Wine referred to it as "the seminal cookbook that put vegan cheesemaking on the map,"[18] and VegNews listed it as one of the "Top 100 Vegan Cookbooks of All Time" in 2024.[19]

Miyoko's Kitchen/Miyoko's Creamery (2014-2023)

Schinner initially thought Artisan Vegan Cheese, had given readers all the tools that they would need to create vegan cheese, and that her role was over. However, people told her that they wanted her to make the cheese for them.[7] Although Schinner was reluctant to start a business again, she was eventually persuaded to create a new vegan cheese company. She thus founded Miyoko's Kitchen in 2014,[20][21] as an online business.[7]

Schinner's initial goal was to create dairy-free products including butter and a wide variety of different types of cheeses using traditional cheesemaking cultures and techniques, chiefly out of cashews, oats and chickpea flour.[22][23][24][25][26] She launched the company with herself as CEO and four employees on a Friday, and by Monday they had 50,000 orders.[7] In December of that year, it moved from a 4,000-square-foot facility to a 29,000-square-foot facility,[27][28] located in Petaluma.[11] Fundraising continued to grow: in 2017, it obtained $6 million in funding, for a total of $12 million.[27] Eventually Schinner changed the name from Miyoko's Kitchen to Miyoko's Creamery.[29]

Miyoko's Kitchen eventually accrued $1 million in seed money, first being invested in by Seth Tibbott, the founder of Tofurky.[22][30] Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi made an investment in Miyoko's Creamery in November 2019.[31][32] In addition to vending within the United States, Miyoko's Creamery expanded its market in 2019, distributing to Canada and Australia.[33][34] Miyoko's Food Truck, in a Cross Country Tour starting from March 4, 2020, distributed 15,000 free grilled cheese sandwiches around the United States in order to promote cruelty-free vegan cheese in the Country.[35][36] In August 2021, Miyoko's Creamery prevailed on First Amendment grounds in their lawsuit against the California Department of Food and Agriculture's attempts to force the company to cease using the words "Cheese" and "Butter" (among others) in the marketing of their products.[37]

In February 2023, Miyoko's Creamery announced that Schinner was no longer CEO, and that it and Schinner had parted ways.[38] A few weeks later, on February 16, Miyoko's Creamery filed a lawsuit against Schinner, alleging that she misappropriated confidential information and copied the data to her personal cloud after the board of directors voted to terminate her as CEO. The case was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Case 3:23-cv-00711.[39] In response, on March 3, Schinner's attorney Lisa Bloom announced that she would be filing a wrongful termination counter lawsuit. Bloom stated: “The company's behavior in forcing her out of the company she created and built, then trashing her via an outrageously malicious and misleading lawsuit will be met with facts and witnesses showing that Miyoko's own complaints of toxic and sexist behavior by certain male executives were swept under the rug, and then she was demoted and fired.”[40] On May 18, 2023, Miyoko's Creamery and Schinner released a joint announcement stating that "they have resolved all legal disputes between them and that they have withdrawn all legal claims made against each other."[41] The announcement also stated that they both “wish each other well as they go their separate ways.”[41]


During this period, Schinner produced two vegan cookbooks published by Ten Speed Press. Good Housekeeping listed The Homemade Vegan Pantry as one of the best vegan cookbooks in 2019.[42] In 2023, Food & Wine named it one of the 16 best vegan cookbooks[43] and one of the “The 18 Best Vegan Cookbooks for Every Type of Meal."[44] A few years later, The San Francisco Chronicle listed The Vegan Meat Cookbook: Meatless Favorites. Made with Plants as one of the "best new cookbooks to start 2022."[45]

In 2024, VegNews listed both The Vegan Meat Cookbook[14] and The Homemade Vegan Pantry[46] as "Top 100 Vegan Cookbooks of All Time."

Rancho Compasion (2015-present)

In 2015, Schinner founded the animal sanctuary Rancho Compasion.[47][48]

Awards and honors

In 2018, Melaina Juntti of New Hope Network described Schinner as a "vegan rock star."[10] Also in 2018, she was among 28 women featured in PopSugar's "28 Women Changing the World Right This Second" list, a project backed by UN Women.[49] She is considered a pioneer in the production of vegan cheese.[50][29][51]

In 2023, Tasting Table named Schinner as one of the “21 Plant-Based Chefs You Need To Know.”[52] and VegNews listed her as one of the "37 Creative Chefs Crafting the Future of Vegan Food."[53]

Year Awards and Honors Event
2022 Inc. (magazine) Female Founders 100: The Top Women Entrepreneurs of the Year Inc. (magazine)[54]
2021 Food & Wine Game Changers for 2021 Food & Wine[55]
2021 Miyoko Schinner:CEO, Founder, Miyoko's Creamery - Forbes 50 over 50 Forbes[56]
2021 Person of the Year: Miyoko Schinner Nosh Awards 2021[57]
2019 Sofi Awards Specialty Food Association Sofi Award, Business Leadership[58]
2016 Vegan Hall of Fame North American Vegetarian Society[59]
2015 Veggie Award Product of the Year VegNews Veggie Awards[60]

Personal life

Miyoko and Michael Schinner have three children, a son (a basketball player in Japan) and two daughters.[6] They divorced in 2023.[61][62]

See also


  1. ^ a b Nishimoto Schinner, Miyoko (2001). The New Now and Zen Epicure. Book Publishing Company. p. copyright page.
  2. ^ Chiorando, Maria. "Vegans have better sex, live longer and are healthier – according to new Netflix documentary". Vegan Food & Living. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  3. ^ Mridul, Anay (2023-11-27). "In Her Own Words: OG Vegan Dairy Queen Talks YouTube, New Cookbook & Life Post Miyoko's Creamery". Green Queen. Retrieved 2024-02-23.
  4. ^ Kleinman, Gabe (2018-10-24). "Miyoko Schinner, the Premier Pioneer of Plant-Based Cheese". Medium. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  5. ^ a b c "Miyoko's Wins in Lawsuit Over Use of 'Butter' and 'Dairy' in Labeling". Rafu Shimpo. 2021-09-16. Retrieved 2023-03-03.
  6. ^ a b c Sumrall, Frank (2023-01-31). "Miyoko Schinner". North Bay Biz. Retrieved 2023-01-31.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Ep 20: Cheese! with Miyoko Schinner". The Chickpeeps. 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2023-06-01.
  8. ^ a b c Poling, Les (2020-03-31). "MIYOKO SCHINNER: FOOD REVOLUTIONARY". St. John's College (Annapolis/Santa Fe). Retrieved 2023-03-03.
  9. ^ a b c d Kennedy, Alicia (2021-04-01). "Vegan Cheese Is Ready to Compete With Dairy. Is the World Ready to Eat It?". Eater. Retrieved 2023-05-18.
  10. ^ a b Juntti, Melaina (2018-08-27). "Miyoko's Kitchen chef creates cheese that's better for people and the planet". New Hope Network. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  11. ^ a b Dawson, Vanessa. "This Woman Is Taking On The $120 Billion Cheese Industry". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  12. ^ a b c d e Feral, Holly (4 June 2016). "Miyoko Schinner: The Tale of a Tenacious Entrepreneur". Driftwood Magazine (Issue 2). Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  13. ^ a b Duggan, Tara (2017-02-16). "Vegan cheese startup Miyoko's Kitchen drawing lots of investors". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
  14. ^ a b Pointing, Charlotte (January 10, 2024). "The Top 100 Vegan Cookbooks of All Time (25-49)". VegNews. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
  15. ^ "Delicious TV's Vegan Mashup Season 3 Episodes". TV Guide. Retrieved 2023-06-01.
  16. ^ "New Vegan Cooking Show to Launch on PBS". One Green Planet. 7 June 2012. Retrieved 2023-06-01.
  17. ^ De Guzman, Dianne (2023-03-27). "Food Emporium China Live Could Be at Risk of Eviction Due to a Dispute Over $4.2M in Back Rent". SF Eater. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  18. ^ Shah, Khushbu (2021-06-16). "F&W Game Changers: Miyoko Schinner". Food & Wine. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  19. ^ Pointing, Charlotte (January 10, 2024). "The Top 100 Vegan Cookbooks of All Time (1-24)". VegNews. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
  20. ^ "Miyoko's Creamery Announces Executive Transition". Business Wire (Press release). 16 February 2023. Retrieved 2023-02-17.
  21. ^ ""We are revolutionizing dairy products by making them from plants instead of cows" - Miyoko's Kitchen founder Miyoko Schinner, the bitesize interview". www.just-food.com. 2019-02-05. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  22. ^ a b "This Woman Is Taking On The $120 Billion Cheese Industry". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  23. ^ Chowhound. "A Visit with the Queen of Vegan Cheese, Miyoko Schinner". Chowhound. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  24. ^ Erickson, Katheryn (2019-08-23). "If I Close My Eyes, I'd Swear This European-Style Vegan Butter Is Real Butter". The Strategist. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  25. ^ Mack, Heather (2019-11-14). "Vegan Cheesemaker Wants Dairies to Swap Cows for Plants". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  26. ^ Bland, Alastair (7 April 2015). "Hold The Mammal: Daring To Make Dairy-Free Cheese From Nuts". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  27. ^ a b Forgrieve, Janet. "Will The Dairy Of The Future Come From Cashews Instead Of Cows?". Forbes.
  28. ^ Marx, Rebecca Flint (2019-05-16). "Not milking it: how vegan cheese finally caught up with modern appetites". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  29. ^ a b Fox, Katrina (2022-07-21). "The queen of vegan cheese". Nourish Magazine. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  30. ^ "Miyoko's Kitchen and the Rise of Vegan Cheese". Specialty Food Association. 2016-10-03. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  31. ^ Pritchett, Liam (2019-11-14). "Ellen DeGeneres Invests In Vegan Cheese Brand Miyoko's". LIVEKINDLY. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  32. ^ "Ellen DeGeneres invests in Pelatuma's plant-based dairy brand's growth". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  33. ^ "Miyoko's Vegan Butter Debuts in 1,000 Stores in Canada". VegNews.com. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  34. ^ "Miyoko's Vegan Cheese and Butter Expand to Australia". VegNews.com. Retrieved 2020-02-13.
  35. ^ Ettinger, Jill (February 22, 2020). "Miyoko's Gives Away Vegan Grilled Cheese Truck on 17 City Tour". The Beet. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  36. ^ "Miyoko's Food Truck to Give Away 15,000 Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in Cross-Country Tour". VegNews.com. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  37. ^ Schlott, Rikki (30 August 2021). "California Court Rules Vegan Creamery Has First Amendment Right To Call Products 'Butter' and 'Cheese'". reason.com. Reason. Retrieved 18 February 2023.
  38. ^ "Miyoko's Creamery Announces Executive Transition". Business Wire. 16 February 2023. Retrieved 2023-02-17.
  39. ^ "Mintz Reps Vegan Food Company Miyoko's in Trade Secrets Suit". Law.com. Retrieved 2023-02-17.
  40. ^ Hamstra, Mark (2023-03-02). "Schinner Plans Countersuit in Miyoko's Creamery Dispute". Specialty Food Association. Retrieved 2023-03-02.
  41. ^ a b Watson, Elaine (2023-05-18). "Brief: Miyoko's and namesake founder bury the hatchet, withdraw legal claims". agfundernews.com. Retrieved 2023-05-18.
  42. ^ Schumer, Lizz (2019-09-27). "15 Best Vegan Cookbooks to Go Meatless for Any Meal". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  43. ^ Makhijani, Pooja (2022-10-14). "The 16 Best Vegan Cookbooks for 2023". Food & Wine. Retrieved 2023-06-06.
  44. ^ Makhijani, Pooja (2023-11-02). "The 18 Best Vegan Cookbooks for Every Type of Meal". Food & Wine. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  45. ^ Briskin, Will (2022-02-02). "The best new cookbooks to start 2022". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2023-03-03.
  46. ^ Pointing, Charlotte (January 10, 2024). "The Top 100 Vegan Cookbooks of All Time (50-74)". VegNews. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
  47. ^ Hamer, Caitlin (22 April 2022). "Rescued Animals Get a Second Chance at Rancho Compasión". Marin Living. Retrieved 2023-05-31.
  48. ^ Charles, Jacoba (2017-01-19). "Vegan chef builds animal sanctuary in Nicasio hills". The Point Reyes Light. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  49. ^ Garcia, Kelsey (2018-10-11). "For International Day of the Girl, Meet 28 Women Changing the World Right This Second".
  50. ^ Axworthy, Nicole (2021-08-03). "Vegan Cheese Queen Miyoko Schinner Is Making Wine Country Vegan Friendly with New Campaign". VegNews. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  51. ^ DelGizzi, Michelina (2015-01-23). "The Latest (Vegan) Cheese Sensation". Culture Cheese Magazine. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
  52. ^ Kot, Anna (2023-06-02). "21 Plant-Based Chefs You Need To Know". Tasting Table. Retrieved 2023-12-28.
  53. ^ Pointing, Charlotte (July 27, 2023). "37 Creative Chefs Crafting the Future of Vegan Food". VegNews. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
  54. ^ "Female Founders 100 for 2022". Inc. (magazine). Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  55. ^ "Food & Wine Game Changers". Food & Wine. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  56. ^ "Miyoko Schinner". Forbes. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  57. ^ "Person of the Year: Miyoko Schinner". nosh.com. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  58. ^ 2019 Leadership Award Winners
  60. ^ Miyoko’s Kitchen Wins 2015 Veggie Award™ Product of the Year
  61. ^ Schinner, Miyoko (2024-01-03). "January 3, 2024 LinkedIn Post". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2024-01-03.
  62. ^ Ruskus, Baily (2023-04-27). "EP. 87: Speaking Your Truth & Holding Your Ground with Miyoko Schinner (Podcast/Interview)". chefbai.kitchen. Retrieved 2023-05-02.

Cooking shows