After five years of research, SF-based Perfect Day released cow-free ice cream this year. Photo: Perfect Day Foods

The arms race to create lab-grown meats began in earnest years ago, but when it comes to milk alternatives, it’s been all about plants for quite some time — oat, soy, almond, coconut, etc. — none of which can possibly replicate the real thing.

Today, the Times has an eye-opening profile of the emerging lab-grown milk industry, which is working overtime to create dairy, minus the cows. The process involves programming yeast to grow casein and whey proteins, the elements that make milk so quintessentially milky. From there you get cruelty-free ice cream, cheese, and so much more.

Among the companies highlighted in the article, San Francisco-based Perfect Day is at the head of the pack, having already produced ice cream using lab-grown dairy after five years of development. The ice cream quickly sold out.

Of course, the dairy industry is already preparing to push the Food and Drug Administration to regulate these products as they’ve done with lab-grown beef, plant-based meat, and plant-based milks, but we’d say that given the already pronounced excitement around industry leaders Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, the writing is on the wall.