Technology company Ecovative recently unveiled vegan bacon engineered from mushrooms at a recent Biofabricate Summit in Brooklyn, NY. Founded in 2006 by college friends Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, Ecovative specializes in creating materials using its proprietary technology that relies on mycelium—a fast-growing mushroom root system. The company previously used its biofabrication platform to produce packaging for IKEA and vegan leather for biotechnology brand Bolt Threads, but has made its first foray into the food industry with its bacon prototype. “The dream is to be able to do the equivalent of a steak,” Bayer told Forbes. “When you talk to the folks who do plant-based burgers, the goal is to do a bacon cheeseburger.” The company modified the structure of its mycelium, added flavoring, and cooked it producing a result that Bayer—who grew up on a pig farm—said tasted and sizzled like bacon. “The holy grail in meat is structure. We made the bacon prototype to convince ourselves. Is this crazy? Is this a bad idea?” Bayer said. “It was an unbelievable idea.” In October, Ecovative announced that it plans to pivot its structural technology to assist in the growth of cell-based meat and create “meatier” versions of plant-based meat. While slaughter-free meat products will not be commercially available for some time, cell-based meat technology is rapidly developing. Last week, Israeli company Aleph Foods unveiled its slaughter-free steak, and California startup JUST partnered with Japanese cattle ranchers to create slaughter-free versions of wagyu beef.
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