Why are Mushrooms the ultimate meat alternative
Due to its vitamin content, amino acid (protein) profile, not to mention its awesome flavour and texture mushrooms are the ultimate meat replacement. Then of course there are their health properties.
We often speak with people new to a plant-based diet, and sometimes worried parents of new vegans, about mushrooms as a nutritional replacement for meat.
When it comes to nutrition we are big believers in functional foods rather than loading up with pills and supplements. Or, heavily processed foods like fortified breakfast cereals. Here’s the thing about mushrooms, when it comes down to the so-called “superfoods” like kale, broccoli and Tumeric, mushrooms simply leave them in the dust. Here’s why…
In a word, it’s all about UMAMI. Mushrooms add a flavour known as umami that tends to be very satisfying, which makes them ideal to add in pasta sauce for example to maintain a rich flavour and texture while reducing or eliminating the meat they contain. In dishes that contain large amounts of meat, replace a quarter to a half of the meat with mushrooms to make a dish lower in calories and still delicious.
We often describe gourmet mushrooms as being playful in the kitchen due to the different cooking treatments you can give them to change their texture.
- The Pink Oyster mushroom can be fried to become crispy (some people refer to this a vegan bacon as it’s probably the closest you’ll get). I often tell people to channel tacos for this, at they are a perfect combination. If you cook the pinks more as a stirfry, noodle dish or soap, they will become a chewier, fleshy (or meaty) texture. Perfect where you may want to enjoy some mastication to move flavours around your palate.
- Grey Oysters, I often describe as the chicken of mushrooms, in that any dish that requires chicken you can replace with them. They are beyond awesome in any Italian dish like pasta or risotto. Any Asian dish (with the Chinese often using them whole in a soup like Tom Yum). With thicker Greys, I like to use a fork to shred them then put them on a baking tray drizzled with some oil and my secret herbs and spices to make small burgers for sliders (think pulled pork).
The nutritional value of mushrooms is closer to meat than a plant, so contain many things that are hard to get or completely missing from a vegan diet.
The nutrients in 4 dried shiitake (15 grams) are ((Source):
- Calories: 44
- Carbs: 11 grams
- Fibre: 2 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Riboflavin: 11% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Niacin: 11% of the DV
- Copper: 39% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 33% of the DV
- Selenium: 10% of the DV
- Manganese: 9% of the DV
- Zinc: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
- Folate: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin D: 6% of the DV
- In addition, shiitake contain many of the same amino acids as meat (Source).
Mushrooms do not constitute a massive source of protein however, the protein present in mushrooms contains all nine essential amino acids (EAAs). Where plant-based proteins are missing many EEA’s. Mushrooms also have a high branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) composition, which is usually only found in animal-based protein sources.
In fact, mushroom proteins rival the quality of what is seen in animal-derived protein sources, including protein powders, and are nearly equivalent to the protein quality found in meat. Read more about this in our article on mushroom protein.
- Vitamin D is massively important and can be hard to get in the winter months. Long term deficiency can lead to problems as far-ranging as weak and brittle bones through to lower immune system response. This vitamin’s so important it gets its own section
Vitamin B group
Depending on the variety mushrooms are a great source of the Vitamin B group. Another important vitamin that has its own section.
- riboflavin, or B-2
- folate, or B-9
- thiamine, or B-1
- pantothenic acid, or B-5
- niacin, or B-3
- B12 (but relatively low)
Depending on the variety mushrooms also have several minerals that may be difficult to obtain from a vegan diet — such as selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus.
In addition to the nutritional benefits of mushrooms, many of them have other properties that improve a person’s overall health. For instance in boosting the immune system, to fighting cancer.
Mushrooms & their health benefits
Buy a grow kit
Why trust us?
- Tracked delivery: We use NZ Post tracked service, to ship our mini-farms throughout NZ. In fact, they are growing the length of the country, from Stewart Island to Great Barrier Island.
- We are committed to you having an awesome experience with us: We may be a small humble farm but we offer outstanding customer support. If you have questions, we encourage customers to give us a call or better, use the live chat feature on our website.
- We step you through the process. Even though growing a mini-farm is easy, you will receive emails that are timed to the key stages of your grow.
- We’re dedicated to providing the best information. See our comprehensive knowledge base filled with information about growing mushrooms.
- Our awesome reviews. See our Facebook page for comments and reviews by our many 100’s of customers
Why buy from us?
You will be supporting a business that’s trying to do the right thing. With your support we are aiming to be 100% self-sustainable, using regenerative and permaculture values and principles.
- We are committed to being a small locally-focused business. We sell exclusively at local farmer’s markets in our area.
- We are committed to having a low carbon footprint. We use our mushroom waste to heat our grow rooms using compost powered central heating. We also use biomass to produce our own natural gas for things like sterilization in our lab.
- We are committed to reducing our environmental impact. Where we can. we recycle our own plastic so it does not leave our property. We use recycled material wherever possible and don’t over-package. We even use a rubber stamp and recycled paper for business cards. Don’t be surprised if your mini-farm arrives in a box salvaged from Pac ‘n Sav.
Meat Alternative – further reading
- The protein content of mushrooms v’s meat https://www.livestrong.com/article/556190-protein-content-in-mushrooms-vs-meat/
- Role of mushrooms as a functional food https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304094531_Role_of_edible_mushrooms_as_functional_foods-A_review
- A great article profiling different mushrooms as specific meat replacement The Best Mushroom Substitutes for Every Kind of Meat
- 8 Mushroom substitutes you should know https://warmchef.com/8-mushroom-substitutes-that-you-should-know/