Chicago Start-up to Produce Vegan Protein from Yellowstone Microbes

By Tyler, Global Vegans

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The future of ‘meat’ is here.

Introducing Fy Protein, a completely vegan protein produced using volcanic microbes from geothermal springs found in the USA’s Yellowstone National Park. According to the Chicago-based start-up behind it, Nature’s Fynd, Fy Protein looks like meat, tastes like meat and offers many of the same nutrients as meat - without requiring the exploitation or slaughter of a single animal.

Early reports suggest that Fy Protein has the potential to revolutionise the meat alternative industry with its land and water-saving production process and nutritional value. Unlike many other meatless meat products, fibre-rich Fy Protein is high in many essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B12.

The USA is a global leader of fake meat production, with brands such as Before the Butcher and Beyond Meat rising in popularity amongst vegetarians and vegans. The increase in demand for plant-based meat products has grown so much that the industry is set to be worth $27.9 billion by 2025.

Yet, unlike many other alternative meat products, Fy Protein is produced using extremophiles, a fungal strain known to survive in geothermal springs and other extreme environments.

The extremophiles are stored in growth chambers and fed a combination of glycerine and starches. Under a unique liquid surface fermentation method, the microbes grow and expand, developing a texture similar to muscle fibre. Following this, the fungi protein is steamed and shaped or turned into a powdered or liquid format.

When grown in a controlled environment, the microbes used by Nature’s Fynd become a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. Our bodies cannot produce essential amino acids naturally, but they have a range of muscle-building and immunity-boosting health benefits that we all need.

Sourcing plant foods with all nine essential amino acids can be challenging for people who don’t eat meat, eggs or dairy, but with complete proteins like Fy Protein preparing to hit the shelves, this could soon change.

Fy Protein may also be a winning meat alternative for people who prefer to avoid ultra-processed fake meats from brands like Quorn and Impossible Foods. Its unique fermentation process means there’s no genetic engineering involved, and it’s also free from pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and antibiotics.

Nature’s Fynd nuggets and burgers are sure to be popular amongst plant-based eaters when they are released later this year, but Fy Protein can also be used as a dairy alternative. A natural source of calcium, we’re excited to see how it might be used to create vegan yoghurt, mousse and ice cream.

This vegan protein source is not only cruelty-free and highly versatile; it’s also a much more environmentally-friendly protein than many others available. The fermentation process used to grow the volcanic microbes means that Fy Protein requires significantly fewer natural resources than its competitors. If we compare carbon footprints, it will even trump current vegan favourites such as pea protein.

When compared to the land cost of farming animals, there’s no argument that Fy Protein is a much more ecologically-sound protein source. According to Nature’s Fynd, it uses 99% less land and 87% less water than traditional agriculture.

To produce Fy Protein, Nature’s Fynd requires just one 35,000 square foot facility to feed and ferment the microbes. This means there’s no need to deplete the planet’s natural resources to keep the world well-fed.

What’s more, under controlled fermentation processes, the microbes used to create Fy Protein will keep multiplying. As a result, Nature’s Fynd will be able to produce huge quantities of fungi protein quickly and efficiently.

The start-up’s CEO, Thomas Jonas, told Food Navigator USA: “There is this growing realization that microbes are pretty damn efficient. They make great protein and they do it really fast, you don’t have to plant a seed and harvest it six months later, and you can completely control the environment.”

Karuna Rawal, CMO for Nature’s Fynd, also told Cowboy State Daily that the company will never need to collect another microbe sample due to the fermentation process the company relies upon. This is good news for Yellowstone National Park, which won’t be subjected to damaging extraction techniques or become a base for mass-produced fungi protein.

At Global Vegans, we’re excited to imagine a world where cruelty-free and planet-friendly foods line supermarket shelves instead of pigs, cows and chickens. Could vegan meat alternatives like Fy Protein be the answer?

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