Meati Mycelium Eats

Boulder-based Meati is making meat from mushroom root.

Photo courtesy of Meati.

A newcomer in the mushrooming field of animal-free meats, Meati carves its niche with mushrooms—but not the caps you’re picturing. Instead, Meati “meats” are made from the intricate web found beneath mushrooms known as mycelium, aka mushroom root.

This Boulder enterprise weaves in traces of oat fiber and chickpea powder, alongside vegetable and fruit extracts, for that perfect hue, crafting cutlets convincingly reminiscent of chicken breast and a “steak” version rivaling its bovine peer. As for nutritional bragging rights? A hearty 15 grams of protein and an impressive 8 grams of fiber in each serving. If you’re wary of plant-based meat alternatives because of “a texture thing,” it’s important to know that mushroom root is super similar to muscle tissue, which allows Meati’s culinary team to form the main ingredient into any shape, texture, and flavor. Meati’s products include the classic cutlet, the crispy cutlet, and carne asada. (You can find recipes for dishes like the Classic Steak Sloppy Qs, shown above, on the Meati website.)

Tyler Huggens is the man behind the natural food movement rooted in mushrooms. An environmentalist, scientist, entrepreneur, and Meati’s CEO, Higgins grew up on a bison ranch in Montana. He founded Meati in 2016 with a mission of making better meat—and today, it’s looking like a mission accomplished.

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“We know Meati is a whole food containing a wide array of nutrients that can be valuable additions to anyone’s diet,” says Justin Whiteley, PhD, Meati Foods cofounder and chief science officer. Earlier this year, Meati opened its industrial-scale production facility in Thorton, dubbed the Mega Ranch—a vertically integrated facility growing, harvesting, processing, and packaging Meati products under one roof, where they are able to grow a teaspoon of spores into hundreds of cows’ equivalent of whole-food protein in just a few days. Good thing, too—Meati products repeatedly sold out within minutes of being released online, leading retailers like Whole Foods and Sprouts to pick up the line earlier this year. The brand has also won the enthusiastic support of icons like Rachel Ray, Derek Jeter, and former White House senior policy advisor for nutrition Sam Kass.

“They only need to read our simple ingredient list and taste Meati to recognize that this is the cut-through option people have been waiting for—something they absolutely see weekly if not daily on their plates,” says Huggins. “Our belief that nature already has the answer to many of today’s challenges allowed us to unlock a new food with Meati at a time when consumers are demanding something different and better.”