Mushrooms Are the Easiest Way to Eat Less Meat

You don’t have to give up meat entirely to give these vegan-ish dishes a try.

February 24, 2020

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A plant-based burger, as seen on The Kitchen, Season 22.

Photo by: Scott Gries

Scott Gries

If you’re trying to eat less meat this year, mushrooms may be the answer to upping the amount of veggies in your diet. More and more, these fungi are acting as a go-to substitute for meat, even in some of the most iconic meat-centric dishes. While their rich, earthy taste doesn’t 100% mimic meat per se, they’re closer in texture and flavor to animal products than your average stalk of celery.

Plus, mushrooms are pretty sustainable. Enough so that in 2014, the James Beard Foundation created the annual “Blended Burger Project™,” a competition that invites chefs to whip up the best “blended” – part mushroom, part meat – burgers they can, for a cash prize and the opportunity to cook at the James Beard House in New York City.

The foundation cites a 2018 study from the World Research Institute that reports that Americans eat 10 billion burgers a year. If just 30% of the beef in every burger was replaced with mushroom, it would “save as many emissions as taking 2.3 million cars off the road,” “conserve as much water as 2.6 million Americans use at home each year,” and “reduce agricultural land demand by an area larger than Maryland.” Because of the relatively low water, energy and land needed to produce mushrooms, there’s even more incentive, beyond improving your health, to go for these fungi over meat.

So, what’s stopping you? Take the first step toward a more plant-based diet and give these recipes a try. They’re so good, we have a feeling they might even become a staple in your 2020 diet.

Skip the pancetta and toss this pasta with mushrooms instead. Gabriela Rodiles’ Mushroom Carbonara is everything you love about carbonara – simple, satisfying and beyond quick-cooking – minus the meat. Get the recipe on the new Food Network Kitchen app.

Food Network Kitchen’s Mushroom Bacon

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Mushrooms can even sub in for bacon, too! You don’t have to miss out on bacon-topped breakfast sandwiches, burgers or savory salads thanks to perfectly crisped, caramelized portobello mushrooms.

FNK MUSHROOM BUNS Food Network Kitchen Food Network Whole Milk, Active Dry Yeast, Sugar, Unsalted Butter, Eggs, Allpurpose Flour, Garlic Clove, Shallot, Thyme, Cremini or White Button Mushrooms, Shiitake Mushrooms, Dry White Wine, Heavy Cream, Parmesan Cheese, Parsley

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Pepperoni rolls without the pepperoni? Seems impossible – until you try Mushroom Buns. Mushrooms, vegetables, shallots and herbs are cooked down to create a concentrated paste, known in French as duxelles, to pack these familiar swirls with rich flavor.

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