There are many plant-based meat companies that sell products that mimic ground beef or sausages, rather than the texture of a whole cut. But now a new startup focused on mushrooms wants to change that. Meati Foods, backed by famous restaurateurs like Grant Achatz and David Barber, is using mycelium, the vegetative root of a fungi to make jerky, chicken breast, beefsteaks and deli meat.
Meati Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Tyler Huggins: “We’ve been eating mycelium ever since we’ve been eating mushrooms. The advantage of mycelium is it’s very adaptable.“
Using mycelium for alternative meat is a relatively new practice but it shows promise, said Caroline Bushnell of Good Food Institute, an organization that advocates for plant-based and cell-based foods.
Properly replicating the texture of animal tissue is the biggest obstacle for fake meat companies, Bushnell said. That’s partly why market leaders like Beyond, Impossible and Nestle first tackled burgers and other ground meat products.
However, Meati harvests a fast-growing strain of mycelium from grasslands around the world. Then, it places pieces of the fungi in big metal tanks. The company adds sugar to the tanks and lets the substance cultivate for 18 hours in a process similar to brewing beer. The outcome: easily-moldable chunks that mimic the texture of real meat, packed with protein, zinc, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals.