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Mycoprotein: High Quality and Vegetarian

Sustainable Health

Protein is one of the three macro-nutrients we need in our diets and while there’s no shortage of the stuff, the global population is increasing each day, putting massive strain on existing methods of protein production. Additionally there are quite a number of issues surrounding protein production, including ethical, environmental, nutritional and so on. [1]

While it is easy to get our daily dose of nutrition with an Ovo-lacto vegetarian diet, i.e. a diet which includes eggs, milk and plants, and possible to do with a pure vegetarian (specifically, vegan, as the Indian vegetarian diet includes dairy products) diet, albeit with some planning, it would be great for all of us to have access to a protein that bypasses all of the issues surrounding traditional protein production and it’s sustenance.

Since as recently as 1985, we’ve been aware of a wild fungus, Fusarium venenatum, which after being cultivated and processed yields a food grade protein called mycoprotein. [2] This composition of this protein is typically as follows: [3]

Mycoprotein Composition

NutrientAmount per 100g
Energy (kcals)85
Protein (g)11
Carbohydrate (g)3
of which Sugars (g)0.5
Fat (g)2.9
of which saturates (g)0.7
w-3 Linolenic acid (g)0.4
fiber (g)6 2
b-glucan (g)4
Calcium (mg)42.5
Magnesium (mg)45
Zinc (mg)9
Iron (mg)0.5
Potassium (mg)100
Vitamin B1 Thiamin (mg)0.01
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin (mg)0.23
Vitamin B3 Niacin (mg)0.35
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic acid (mg)0.25
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine (mg)0.125
Biotin (mg)0.02
Phosphorus (mg)260
Copper (mg)0.5
Manganese (mg)6
Selenium (ug)20
Chromium (ug)15
Molybdenum (ug)<25
Sodium (mg)5
Salt (g)0.0125

Mycoprotein is said to be low in sugar and saturated fats, while still delivering protein, without all the sustainability and ethical issues related to protein production from livestock and poultry, as well as suitable for vegetarians. It is marketed under the brand, Quorn, and hasn’t yet entered India to the best of my knowledge. This brand chooses to add a little egg to bind the mixture, which will raise concerns among those who do not eat eggs. 

My question to you is, would you as a vegetarian, eat mycoprotein? Ignore the brand for now, and think of the concept – protein from fungus. For me, it’s the same as nutri-nuggets – a shaped and processed plant extract. What about you?

References:

  1. Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5532560/
  2. Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition)
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/referenceworks/9780122270550
  3. Nutritional breakdown of mycoprotein
    https://www.mycoprotein.org/health-nutrition/nutritional-composition
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