Is There a Vegan Alternative to Leather?

The biotech company MycoWorks has created a material made with mushroom mycelium that looks and feels like leather.
The biotech company MycoWorks has created a material made with mushroom mycelium that looks and feels like leather.

Over the past few years, it's become easier for vegans to find a variety of tasty food options, and now a biotech company hopes to help them keep up with the latest fashions, too. California-based MycoWorks has come up with a way to use fungi – that's mushrooms to me and you – to develop eco-friendly, vegan "leather."

The magic comes from mushroom mycelium, which is an underground structure of tiny root-like threads. MycoWorks grows cells from the mycelium so that it can engineer them into a densely woven material patented under the name Fine Mycelium. The company claims the material not only looks like leather, but has the same durability, performance, and strength.

Because the mycelium is grown, it can be shaped into whatever pattern or size is required, thus eliminating any waste, MycoWorks says. Several name-brand companies have already incorporated Fine Mycelium into their product lines, including Adidas and Hermès.

"It's the first time that a company is able to produce a vegetal product which is matching or even exceeding the quality and durability and aesthetics of a natural one," said Patrick Thomas, former Hermès CEO and a MycoWorks board of directors member. "It's a super achievement."

Vegan vitals:

  • It is estimated that every person who becomes vegan saves the lives of 30 animals every year.

  • Some predictions warn that at the current rate of consumption, the world's oceans could be empty of fish by the year 2048 .

  • By avoiding meat, vegans save 45 pounds of grain per day, since most grain goes to feeding cattle and other animals used for food.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • The biotech company MycoWorks has created a material made with mushroom mycelium that looks and feels like leather.
      By: Marco Verch Professional Photographer
      The biotech company MycoWorks has created a material made with mushroom mycelium that looks and feels like leather.