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Thread: can mushrooms REALLY be vegan?

  1. #1

    can mushrooms REALLY be vegan?

    i actully came across this question yesterday while looking up some stuff on the internet.i found out that mushrooms are usually grown on beds of straw and manure. now, i do know that most conventional produce farms use manure too fertilize there crops, but i also know that these veggies can be grown veganicaly too. but im wondering if mushrooms can ever really be grown veganicaly. i ask this sense mushrooms usually need something dead or rotting too grown on, thus possibly making them not truly vegan. is there a way too mass produce mushrooms without the use of animal by products? what are your opinions?
    ''UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not.''

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  2. #2
    Plant-Based Person
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    Mushrooms need something dead and rotting but I'm pretty sure other plants will fit this bill. Giant mushrooms, well fungi, 20ft tall, where once the largest land organism and pre-date both trees and vertabrate land animals. So it would seem to me that modern day mushrooms could be grown veganically, if farms wanted to.

    Good question though.

    Wow:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...nt-fungus.html

    Here's a fossil of a Prototaxite:
    Last edited by Mahk; 09-13-2011 at 01:51 PM.

  3. #3
    Protist-Based Person The.Protist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahk View Post
    Mushrooms need something dead and rotting
    Incorrect. Although many mushrooms are saprophytes, many have relationships with living plants. In fact, many plants would die without fungal helpers on their roots. Truffles, chanterelles, and most morels are common mushers that need a living tree to survive.

    There are few edible mushrooms that grow on animals. The magic kind is the only 'edible' one that naturally grows on poo.

    If you want to avoid the poo, there are two great options:
    1. Grow your own. There are many kits online or at farmer's markets. They are super easy, as in my gramma has done it.
    2. Pick your own. It's easier than you think. Look for a local foraging group or mycological club and learn by doing. Currently in my neck of the woods the chanterelles are just leaving but the maitake and sulphur shelf are starting to pop up.


    Though you may want to avoid oyster mushrooms and other carnivorous species.
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  4. #4
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    I didn't mean recently dead and/or rotting, as in "still smelly". I meant run of the mill "soil", which as I understand it is largely decomposed plant life (and a little bit animal in modern times), some of which is one year old and some of which is millions of years old. Without this component wouldn't the earth be covered with only rocks, minerals, and sand?
    Last edited by Mahk; 09-14-2011 at 07:01 PM.

  5. #5
    Plant-Based Person panthera's Avatar
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    Wow, you have maitake and chanterelles popping up where you live? Or are they more common than I think?

  6. #6
    Protist-Based Person The.Protist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by panthera View Post
    Wow, you have maitake and chanterelles popping up where you live? Or are they more common than I think?
    More common than you think. Check out this group, they are fairly active in Chicagoland.
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  7. #7
    half a block from Normal Emiloid's Avatar
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    I love mushrooms, and from what I know, it seems that only certain domestic mushrooms are grown in a manure substrate. Criminis, white "button", portobellos... if you're worried about avoiding anything grown with the help of animal-based fertilizer, you could stay away from those. Oyster mushrooms and shiitakes are tree-based mushrooms, and they are usually grown in straw, sawdust, or tree stumps when grown commercially (or in a home kit). Personally, I don't worry about whether food is grown veganically, but I don't fault anyone for trying to be more educated and do what they can to avoid foods grown with animal-based fertilizers

    Foraging is definitely a fun hobby, but you have to be cautious. Like The.Protist suggested, joining a local club is a good idea. I also recommend David Arora's book Mushrooms Demystified, which has an excellent identification key. I wouldn't rely on most regular field guides if you're trying to ID edible mushrooms. Most mushrooms are not deadly, but plenty will make you very sick!
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  8. #8
    Technically, the first and foremost surface fungi need are plant roots. I expect, as long as there's a mycorrhizal relationship going on, mushrooms will come.

    Oh, and the plant doesn't always have to be dead for the mushroom to fruit, though it really depends on the relationship and species in question. I wish I knew more about fungi....

  9. #9
    half a block from Normal Emiloid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The.Protist View Post
    I read this before, and forgot to comment on it directly. I think it's really interesting... I mean, I'm a mushroom-person/fungiphile and I had never heard that oyster mushrooms could be considered carnivorous. Thanks for the link and info!

    Personally, I must say I don't have a problem with oyster mushrooms being somewhat carnivorous. It sounds like they mainly eat the rotting wood of trees, but if a nematode gets nearby the fungus will kill it and absorb the nutrients. Of course, if anyone wants to avoid eating oyster mushrooms that have done this, a kit or commercially-grown oyster mushrooms are the safest bet. They're usually grown on straw or wood chips in those cases, so they wouldn't have the chance to eat much, if anything, from the animal kingdom.
    wocka wocka wocka

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Emiloid View Post
    It sounds like they mainly eat the rotting wood of trees, but if a nematode gets nearby the fungus will kill it and absorb the nutrients. Of course, if anyone wants to avoid eating oyster mushrooms that have done this, a kit or commercially-grown oyster mushrooms are the safest bet. They're usually grown on straw or wood chips in those cases, so they wouldn't have the chance to eat much, if anything, from the animal kingdom.
    Wow, I never imagined that eating a plant or fungus who had, in essence, eaten an animal, would ever be a problem for a vegan, but I guess I have much to learn. All the vegans I've known, including me, it's never surfaced in conversation.

  11. #11
    Protist-Based Person The.Protist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emiloid View Post
    I read this before, and forgot to comment on it directly. I think it's really interesting... I mean, I'm a mushroom-person/fungiphile and I had never heard that oyster mushrooms could be considered carnivorous. Thanks for the link and info!
    Personally, I must say I don't have a problem with oyster mushrooms being somewhat carnivorous. It sounds like they mainly eat the rotting wood of trees, but if a nematode gets nearby the fungus will kill it and absorb the nutrients. Of course, if anyone wants to avoid eating oyster mushrooms that have done this, a kit or commercially-grown oyster mushrooms are the safest bet. They're usually grown on straw or wood chips in those cases, so they wouldn't have the chance to eat much, if anything, from the animal kingdom.
    Oysters grow on living wood too. And nematodes are everywhere, so I'm not sure how many you save with a kit. Personally I'm not too worried.

    Quote Originally Posted by amequohi View Post
    Wow, I never imagined that eating a plant or fungus who had, in essence, eaten an animal, would ever be a problem for a vegan, but I guess I have much to learn. All the vegans I've known, including me, it's never surfaced in conversation.
    It's one of those questions that high omnivores ask at parties, mainly. Like if you can breastfeed a vegan baby. I hate to use the if-it's-in-nature-it-must-be-good argument, but I think if the prey animals died no worse off then they would have in the wild, it's kindof a push ethically. Though I can see some theoretical but small health implications. and if eating coconut sticky rice stuffed pitcher plants caught on in a big way, i'm sure they'd find a way to feed them chicken slurry or something.
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by amequohi View Post
    Wow, I never imagined that eating a plant or fungus who had, in essence, eaten an animal, would ever be a problem for a vegan, but I guess I have much to learn. All the vegans I've known, including me, it's never surfaced in conversation.

    Ordinary garden peas, including dry split peas, are carnivorous plants. They trap insects and cause them to die a slow death. Pea plants have very high nitrogen requirements, and animal tissue is high in nitrogen. When they are mature, they can support nitrogen fixing bacteria in root nodules. But when the pea seeds are first sprouting, what they do is secrete a sticky substances which traps soil insects that come in contact with the peas; the insects die, slowly, as a result of being incapacitated by the pea seed; they decay, as usual, due to soil micro-organisms, and in this manner, supply the developing pea plant with nitrogen. Of course when human farmers are supplying them with nitrogen from other sources, they don't really need the insects - but they still secrete the sticky substance that kills them - they still kill insects.

    Soil, by the way, is about 40% nematodes by weight. You heard me, 40 percent. The better the soil is, the higher its nematode content. They eat the dead organic matter that makes for good tilth. They are at the borderline of visibility verses microscopic. Since they are invertebrates, they are poisoned by rotenone. If you spray rotenone on the soil, they jump up, trying to escape. If you have good light, you can see them at this time. They look like tiny tranlucent fibers popping out of the soil, dancing a centimeter above the soil. There is no way to garden without killing millions of nematodes. Whenever you disturb the soil, earthworms too, are killed - by the thousands in even small gardens.

    Green plants make the nutrients that humans need, from chemical in the soil, that result from the action of micro-organisms. Their genes supervise the construction of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Fungi, like animals, depend on green plants for these nutrients. Their chemical processes are more like those of animals. Thus is seems that eating a fungi is, chemically speaking, more like eating an animal. When we eat them, we get the nutrients second-hand. I prefer to go to the source. Also, I prefer not to eat them because I don't like they way I feel while digesting them. I wouldn't say they are non-vegan. But I think it is simpler and better to eat green plants.
    Last edited by nomenclator; 07-30-2013 at 10:23 AM.
    Materials of animal origin — I don't have the stomach for them.

  13. #13
    Some commercially grown mushrooms, such as shitaki, are reportedly grown in a compost consisting mostly of rotting wood chips. I would consider these vegan. Others, such as ordinary button mushrooms, are commonly grown on a compost made of straw mixed with chicken feces.

    Personally, since these and most commercial mushrooms are saparohphytes, from a health standpoint, I prefer to avoid them. Instead of synthesizing nutrients for energy and materials, as green plants do, they depend on the green plants, the same way mammals, and we, do. Thus from a human nutritional standpoint, they are an extra, intermediary step, for carbohydrates, as opposed being a source. And of course we know many mushrooms have toxic metabolites, eating them can make us sick, even cause permanent damage. I think it is best to avoid them, except perhaps in a very small amount, as a flavoring agent.

    The first time I remember eating mushrooms, I was about 7 years old. They had such a wonderful woodsy flavor and it was a wonderful sensation chewing them. My mom had cooked them. I was delighted by them. I ate a moderate portion for my size, a plateful. Not 2 platefuls, not a huge plateful, just a plateful. I felt generally ill and got violently nauseous after a little while. No-one else had any reaction. Later I learned to eat them in smaller amounts. But now I avoid them altogether. I'm not sure, but I tend to think they increase the frequency of my attacks of facial pain. I have these attacks under control, by eating lots of good fruits and vegetables and learning what to avoid or eat in only small amounts. But I don't like to take any chances eating mushrooms. They aren't necessary, so I don't take any chances. I'll take chances on nuts that i'm allergic too, eating small amounts - because they are good, primary sources of fats and proteins.

    It is true that mushrooms do synthesize some micronutrients, are a direct plant source of them, for example the vitamin D produced by shitake mushrooms. But I'd rather synthesize my own vitamin D.
    Materials of animal origin — I don't have the stomach for them.

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