“I Tried a New Vegan Chicken Made from Mushrooms and Here’s What I Thought”
Dinner is served, and it's made of ... fungus? Well, if you’re being technical, it's actually made of fermented mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, and it's being sold as a brand new kind of vegan chicken alternative from the direct-to-consumer brand Meati.
This spring, the Boulder, Colorado-based alt-meat company launched Meati Chicken Cutlet and the Meati Crispy Cutlet available for shipping nationally from the company's website. So when they offered me the chance to taste it, I was more than a little curious.
As someone who hasn’t eaten actual chicken for the better part of a decade, I can admit that the craving for chicken does strike from time to time, but now the texture of chicken weirds me out. It doesn't help that I know too much about the poultry industry and how birds are raised. Still, I definitely miss the old days when I would occasionally enjoy a good breaded chicken nugget or cutlet and as a plant-based eater who tries all the vegan chicken alternatives whenever possible, I have yet to meet a plant-based substitute that satisfies.
Until now. Meati’s Crispy Cutlet couldn’t be easier to prepare — and more delectable. I simply took it out of the freezer (you can also bake it directly from the refrigerator about 10 minutes quickly if you defrost it in advance), followed the instructions for cooking in the oven if frozen, plopped it atop pre-made Sesame soba noodle bowl with yuba, edamame, and pickled carrots that I had in my fridge from Sunbasket, and voilà, a gourmet meal with hardly any effort.
The exterior was delightfully breaded and crispy, and the interior was more richly flavored than what I remember of a supermarket chicken and shredded just like the real deal. It was a bit chewy and fibrous, so for those who like the texture of chicken, it’s a pretty stellar replica. In addition to the Crispy Cutlet, they also make a classic cutlet option that essentially removes the breading or “crispy” component.
What’s more, it’s pretty good for you, to boot. Per a statement distributed to media, fermented mycelium boasts 25 grams of protein and more than a third of daily fiber needs per serving. The brand also states that it uses a fraction of the ingredients, water, and land involved in the creation of other animal-free meats, making it a particularly scalable and sustainable alternative.
And you know they don’t compromise on taste either when they’ve managed to get the acclaimed chef and Momofuku founder David Chang to serve as the brand’s ambassador.
“We know Meati has the potential to diversify the protein category with whole-food alternatives that deliver high-quality nutrition which have widespread support as evidenced by the early enthusiasm from our pre-order offering,” said Tyler Huggins, CEO and co-founder of Meati, in a company press release on March 21st, 2022. “Today’s national debut has been years in the making, and we’re eager for people at home to try Meati and feel the difference our whole-cut, whole-food nutrition delivers.”
Riffing on Huggins, Scott Tassani, President of Meati added: “It’s such an exciting time of growth here at Meati as we officially enter the market and build breakthrough launch plans with key commercial partners across channels,” he said “We’re looking forward to what’s to come in near-term collaborations, as we pilot our offerings and set our sights on new market expansion later this year.”
Where to Buy Meati Products
For now, the brand's in-demand products are sold-out online, but you can enter your email address to be alerted when it’s back in stock. If you’re in Colorado, you can check them out at SALT Bistro and Birdcall, Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got some vegan waffles to whip up to go with my leftover crispy cutlet.
For more great plant-based recommendations, visit The Beet's product reviews.