Meet your meat: science, mushrooms, and innovation

The availability of plant-based food in global cuisines has increased in recent years. A fair proportion of the global population is now turning towards the environmentally sustainable and healthy alternatives that meatless products can provide. Vegetables, legumes like soy and beans, and mushroom mycoprotein constitute some of the popular meat alternatives that we can find in our supermarket shelves today.

With this article, we begin with our quest to disseminate scientific information about plant-based food products in a way that anyone can comprehend.

Where is your meat coming from? A societal introspective

Many meatless products are making use of wholesome plant and mushroom-based ingredients. These vegetables and fungi contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and dietary fibers that make for a tasty meat alternative at a fraction of the fat and calories that beef can provide. Being able to produce these foods without the use of animal protein has proven to be a convenient, eco-friendly, and health-conscious way to consume the daily calories we need in a previously meat-centric society.

Please read further to learn more about how meatless products are created and whether or not they are suitable for you!

‘Impossible’ patties, ‘Beyond’ burgers and meat substitutes like ‘Chik’n’ and ‘Quorn’, along with other plant-based foods, now likely populate grocery isles in a supermarket near you. The process through which these products are manufactured can provide us with a better understanding of where our food originates from and how it benefits our daily lives. Choosing a healthier lifestyle by removing calories and bad fats from our meals, adding more fiber and minerals, and minimizing the impact on our global food production in terms of animal wellbeing and carbon emissions are just a few of the benefits that a plant-based diet can give.

Several products that previously limited us to the use of animal proteins like milk, cheese, eggs, and lunch meat can now be sourced completely from plants. Recently, manufacturers of these foods have gotten better at mimicking the taste and feel of meat to the extent that you may not be able to tell the difference between them and the real thing!

Artificial meat made with wholesome ingredients

‘Beyond Meat’ burgers, a leading brand of vegan burger patties, has recently come into the public spotlight due to their production of convincing meat-like substitutes. Peas, carrots, brown rice, potatoes, and beans constitute most of their plant-based ingredients. They then add other fruit and vegetable-based products to create their signature meatless patty. Coconut and canola oil is used for a unique type of ‘marbling’ and provides the burger with a juiciness that rivals some properties you might expect from actual meat.

One benefit of the ‘Beyond Meat’ patties is that they are free from soy and gluten. These are two common allergens that previously limited many people from enjoying meat burger substitutes. During the ‘dawn’ of plant-based food products, many meatless burgers were based on soy protein as their main constituent. However, the use of legumes, vegetables and other protein sources can likely add more nutrition to your food. The idea of this healthier burger substitute can provide more fiber and nutrition to suit a variety of consumer needs. This also indicates that there may come a time when we may prepare these types of foods at home, from scratch, using whole foods and customized ingredients.

Science meets cuisine: from mushrooms to meat

Other products take a different approach to meatless product development. ‘Quorn’ brand meatless burgers primarily use protein sourced from a fungus known as Fusarium venenatum. These mycoprotein burgers make for a product high in protein and fiber while being low in saturated fat and cholesterol. According to Quorn’s website, their production of mycoprotein requires 90% less land, water, and carbon emissions than it takes to produce burgers that are primarily based on animal proteins. Shocking number, right?

The unique thing about Quorn’s production of mycoprotein lies in their aerobic fermentation process. This procedure harnesses the fungi’s uncommon ability to convert carbohydrates into protein. After a heat treatment and the manipulation of ribonucleic acid levels, followed by centrifugation and a chilling period, Quorn’s final mycoprotein product is obtained. Then, it is combined with suitable vegetable extracts to make a tasty and healthy mushroom-based meat alternative.


Artificial meat is not only a possibility, but also a delicacy! The production of meatless alternatives around the globe has driven the consumer market to pursue seemingly healthier and more environmentally friendly food options. These plant-centric diets not only benefit humans, animals and the global carbon emission crisis, but they also often use less water and land compared to animal protein products. As these products improve and markets become more comfortable with them, they may become a staple food product that provides pleasant taste and nutrition without the negative impact that beef and pork production may have on our health and the environment. To summarize, our ability to harness protein-rich products without relying on animal protein may herald a revolution in how our society perceives and consumes meat.

For more interesting articles on various plant science topics, keep following this space!

By Greyson Phillips | 15-March-2022

About the author

Greyson is located in the stunning Pacific Northwest and has recently graduated from Washington State University. He has thoroughly enjoyed his time working in plant research with fruit varieties like apples, cherries, and grapes. He hopes to one day have his own orchard so he might make contributions to plant science and work on the development of the ideal apple pie.