You may have read that mushrooms have a nervous system and hence, they can and will feel “pain” if they’re plucked from where they grow. And as a vegan, you may have concerns about where commercial mushrooms are grown because there are many producers that grow mushrooms on compost made of manure (animal byproduct) and wood chips.
Mushrooms tend to cause a little stir (and sometimes doubt and confusion) among vegans because mushrooms are more closely related to animals than to plants on the account that they are fungi (yeast). Most vegans and vegetarians include mushrooms in their diet because mushrooms aren’t animals as how we know or understand them.
However, for strict vegans, there’s a whole lot of difference on whether it’s an animal or a form of animal.
In order for something to feel pain, it has to have a nervous system. And for this nervous system to work, it has to be wired or connected to a brain. Since mushrooms don’t have brains, it’s safe to say that they do not feel pain when they’re plucked.
What exactly are mushrooms anyway?
Even though there are six kingdoms commonly used in taxonomy in which all lives are divided into, mushrooms are in a separate and different kingdom than animals and plants. Taxonomists classify mushroom being more and most closely related to the animal kingdom, as mentioned above, because fungi have and share more genetic code with animals.
This is why it’s often difficult to accurately classify mushrooms because opinions are divided and there’s always room for debate and discussion. Nevertheless, vegetarian authorities and societies around the world don’t classify mushrooms as unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians.
The exact genetic material of mushrooms may or may not be the main concern for you as a vegan, but you may be concerned about how the mushrooms are grown. Many vegans opt for mushrooms that are grown on wood chips and oak shavings rather than on manure compost.
Mushrooms enthusiasts highlight the difference of tastes between mushrooms that are grown on manure compost and those grown on wood chips or shavings. But if you want to ensure that all your food products don’t have any association with animal byproduct, we strongly suggest you go for mushrooms that are grown on the latter type of compost.
If you want to be more certain, you can try and grow the mushrooms yourself. There are many companies selling home-safe mushroom growing kits. Or if you prefer, you can learn more about how to start a small mushroom farm right in your kitchen!
Are mushrooms really that healthy?
A lot of research has has proved that mushrooms have many beneficial qualities and can help to maintaining a healthy body. The lion’s mane mushrooms, for example, have been found to have profound effects on the JNK pathway.
The JNK pathway is where the NGF (neural growth factor) and beta-amyloid proteins are produced in our brain.
The neural growth factor (NGF) is vital to our brain’s health because it promotes neuroplasticity, and a significant reduction of NGF can lead to numerous brain diseases. While the build- up of beta-amyloid can cause Alzheimer’s disease. The JNK pathway keeps a balanced production of the NGF and beta-amyloid to ensure optimum brain health.
How can mushrooms help keep my body healthy?
Mushrooms can also produce vitamin D when they’re exposed to sunlight. In fact, mushrooms are the only fungi, or form of vegetation for that matter, that produce vitamin D! Vitamin D is important for our calcium and phosphate regulation.We need these nutrients because they help to maintain the health of our bones, teeth, and muscles. Most Vitamin D can be found in oily fish and red meat, so for vegans and vegetarians, mushrooms can be a great alternative source.
You may not feel that mushrooms are a form of antioxidants, but they are! We need antioxidants to fight free radicals that are caused by oxidation in our body. Portobello mushrooms have been found to absorb oxygen radicals in a human body at the same rate as red peppers.
Other than that, mushrooms are also loaded with vitamin B2 or riboflavin and also niacin (vitamin B3). We need these vitamins because they’re essential in turning the food we eat into fuel (glucose). Our body will burn the glucose into energy, which we need to power through our days.
Perhaps now you have a better understanding of mushrooms, you can enjoy them and all the good things they have to offer. While we’re on the subject of enjoying mushrooms, let’s take a look some of the many delicious ways you can cook mushrooms.
Here we share two of our favorites mushroom dishes. Why not share with us how you cook your mushroom!
#1 – Three Mushroom Pasta with Garlic Sauce
- Pasta al dente
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Baby Button mushrooms
- Chestnut mushroom
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon corn flour
- 1 cup non-dairy milk (you can use rice milk, almond milk, or quinoa milk)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the oil over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, cook the mushrooms for several minutes or until they have browned on all sides.
- Heat a bit more olive oil and add the flour to make a roux. Add in the garlic and gradually pour in your non-dairy milk. Whisk vigorously to ensure all the ingredients are mixed well.
- Once the sauce starts to boil, you can lower the heat and keep whisking until it starts to thicken. Turn off the heat.
- Mix your mushrooms into the sauce and pour onto the pasta. Serve immediately.
#2 – Spicy Mushroom Stir Fry
- Cumin seeds
- Red chilies, crushed
- Red onion, sliced
- Garlic, sliced
- Baby Bella mushrooms
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped parsley/chives
- A little lime juice
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil over medium heat. Once the pan/wok is hot, add in cumin seeds and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté until aromatic
- Add in red chilies and red onions. Sauté until onions have turned translucent.
- Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms have browned on all sides. Sprinkle some salt to taste.
- Add in lime juice and stir well.
- Add in the chopped cilantro and parsley/chives. Sauté for another minute or two. Turn off heat. Serve immediately.
So what now?
The debate on whether mushroom is a kind of veggie or an animal is no longer important. Instead, it is more valuable to focus on its good effects to our bodies. In this day and age where prevention is preferred than cure, we need to munch on food that will pull us away from dreaded disease such as cancer.
Either you grow your mushroom or buy it from the groceries, it’s never too late to start including it in your diet.
This is Ella Wilson, the founder of TinyPlantation.com. I have a great interest in plants and gardens and I am fascinated with fruits and vegetables. I wish to share my passion with you through this website. Feel free to read my articles and guides and share them with others who might benefit from them. You can reach out to me anytime if you have questions.