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If you’re a vegetarian (or a normal person just trying to eat healthier and incorporate more plants into your eating) than you may have come across the meat-substitute/soy-substitute called MYCOPROTEIN. Given some of the serious drawbacks associated with soy often found in “veggie burgers”, etc. it’s nice to know there’s another alternative out there… But, what the heck is it, anyway?

Most often found under the brand name ‘Quorn‘, Mycoprotein is, basically, fungus… Really it’s mold (feel free to read the MUCH longer version of that definition over here on Wikipedia). It’s not, actually, mushrooms like the ones pictured above; that’s what I thought it was at first. But, on the surface, that’s not as gross as it sounds. After all, mushrooms are fungi, and they’re jam-packed full of nutrients and good taste.

Your next question might be, “Wait… mold has protein?” Well, yes, some of it does have a significant amount. Mycoprotein uses a microfungi known as “fusarium venenatum“. Since it’s plant-based, it does not have the cholesterol / fat concerns of meat and also contains cholesterol-lowering fiber content as well as containing all nine essential amino acids, designating it as a source of first class protein.

So, are there any downsides to mycoprotein? Um, yes. Most people eat it, like it, and enjoy it (myself included). However, some consumers have had severe allergic reactions. The reality, unfortunately, is that – plant-based or not – mycoprotein is a highly processed food. It’s made in vats using chemicals to accelerate the process (yes, you did read that correctly). Is it a good alternative to soy? Considering that the majority of soy-based products on the market are also highly-processed, GMO foods wrapped up in clever marketing? Yes. But, the reality is, you’re better off with the tried and true (fermented) organic tempeh, tofu, and other minimally processed, highly nutritious plant foods.

So, what’s a well-intended person to do? Eat other whole, minimally-processed, plant-based sources of protein. The less processed it is, the better. Beans, nuts, quinoa, fermented soy. Check out the link below to learn the difference between “good soy” and “bad soy.”

This post isn’t a be-all or end-all on the subject of mycoprotein. But hopefully I’ve done some of the legwork for you in making smarter decisions about your health and nutrition. Have you had mycoprotein? What are you thoughts and experiences? Leave a comment below with your thoughts – thanks!

LINK: The Truth About Non Fermented Soy vs Fermented Soy Protein – FitDay

Image by Red Junasun, Flickr. Used with Permission under Creative Commons License.

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