Mushrooms have been a culinary delight for decades now. Known for their thick, versatile texture, umami-bursting flavor, and rich nutritional profile, mushrooms are celebrated in the food industry all over the world. In recent years, mushrooms have gotten press for their meat-like qualities and ability to emulate burgers, steaks, and even seafood dishes like scallops.

Well, it appears that mushrooms aren’t only good for making plant-based dishes but also for replacing other products typically made from animals, namely leather. Yup, that’s right. The startup, Mycoworks, is making a leather from mushroom mycelium and people are saying it feels like real leather. The company keeps cows completely out of the picture and instead uses the natural fibers that can be created with mycelium. They believe that their product is not only sustainable but also more cost-effective than conventional leather.

All signs point to this being true. After all, making leather from a cow, similar to raising cow for meat, is resource-intensive, environmentally-destructive, and frankly, hazardous. While it may seem that leather is simply a byproduct of the meat industry, this is hardly the case. Leather is actually just one of the many facets of the meat industry. In fact, one feeds the other. Leather is such a desirable product that cows on farms are not just raised for meat, they are raised for meat and leather, equally. Leather is created to yield a higher profit for farmers.

Mycoworks is trying to put an end to this vicious cycle with their product and give cows the much-deserved retirement they deserve. Just as it is imperative for people to lower their meat consumption to give the world a fighting chance at survival, it is important that we find alternatives to all of the aspects of this destructive industry. Looks like when it comes to the pursuit of a cruelty-free and more sustainable world, wearing mushrooms may just be as important as eating them. Who would’ve thought?

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