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Are Cordyceps Vegan? Our Detailed And Fact-Backed Answer
Aug 14, 23
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Author: Sony Sherpa

Are Cordyceps Vegan? Our Detailed And Fact-Backed Answer

  • by Sony Sherpa

    Medically reviewed by

    Sony Sherpa

    Dr. Sony Sherpa is a board-certified Clinical Doctor and dedicated advocate for holistic medicine, specializing in functional mushrooms. Her blend of medical expertise and passion for alternative wellness lends authenticity to her role as a contributor for Natures Rise.

  • |
  • 7 min read
Are Cordyceps Vegan? Our Detailed And Fact-Backed Answer

In recent years, the benefits of Cordyceps mushrooms have received increased attention in the fast-paced Western world. Cordyceps has been shown to help with energy and immunological function. When people realize that this strange mushroom grows out of the bodies of various insects, it attracts a lot of attention. One of the questions we often get: are Cordyceps vegan?

Cordyceps of this kind is not vegetarian or vegan. On the other hand, Cordyceps are not just vegetarian but vegan when grown solely with plants and no animals or animal products are used. Cordyceps are vegan-friendly food when grown on an organic, vegan substrate of rice and other nutrients.

Unraveling The Cordyceps Mystery

Unraveling The Cordyceps Mystery

Cordyceps is a time-honored superfood that dates back at least 5,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cordyceps has been used for over 1,000 years in China and is considered a national treasure and tonic. Their medicinal uses were mentioned in ancient Chinese medical literature, and traditional holistic doctors have used them for decades to treat dozens of disorders without chemical pharmaceuticals.

This beautiful orange mushroom grows from the undergrowth of leaves or moss—Cordyceps fruits from an insect's body beneath the ground. Cordyceps colonizes an insect's body, gradually taking over its nervous system and spreading its mycelium throughout its interiors until one fateful day when it is ready to fruit its mushroom and disseminate spores to other unassuming insects. Surprisingly, certain Cordyceps species are also adapted to infect specific insect species.

Is Cordyceps vegan?

Veganism prohibits the consumption of anything derived from animals. Cordyceps is a fungus. Hence it is generally considered vegan. However, there are some things to consider.

The source of Cordyceps

Cordyceps can be obtained by two methods:

Wild Cordyceps are obtained from their native habitat, where they grow on insects. Harvesting wild Cordyceps necessitates the death of the host insect, rendering it non-vegan.

Cultivated Cordyceps: Cultivated Cordyceps are cultivated without insects in controlled surroundings. This process avoids the use of animals, making it a vegan choice.

Supplements containing Cordyceps

Cordyceps is often taken as a dietary supplement. When selecting a Cordyceps supplement, looking at the ingredients and manufacturing process is critical. Look for supplements that indicate unequivocally that they are vegan and contain no animal-derived ingredients.

Cordyceps As A Vegan Superfood

Cordyceps As A Vegan Superfood

Cordyceps mushroom is a vegan superfood due to its nutritional value and multiple health benefits. The mushroom contains several antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins, contributing to its therapeutic properties. 

Nutritional profile of Cordyceps as Superfood

The following chemicals have been discovered in the nutrition profile of Cordyceps mushroom:

  • Cordycepic acid
  • Cordycepin
  • Dipicolinic acid
  • Adenosine
  • N-acetylgalactosamine
  • Acid deoxyribonuclease
  • Protease
  • Ergosterol and ergosteryl esters
  • Hypoxanthine
  • Superoxide dismutase
  • Bioxanthracenes
  • Lectin

Health benefits of Cordyceps

Some of the potential health benefits and applications of Cordyceps that make it a superfood include:

  • Increases cellular ATP(1) (adenosine triphosphate) levels, which improves athletic ability or performance.
  • Its ability to suppress tumor cell metastasis makes it a potentially valuable co-therapeutic treatment for some malignancies(2).
  • Regulates blood sugar levels.
  • Relieves inflammation(3).
  • Cordyceps increases libido.
  • It improves your immunity and boosts your heart health. 

Cordyceps Products: Vegan Certification And Labels

Cordyceps Products: Vegan Certification And Labels

Always check the ingredients generally printed on the back of the container to confirm that Cordyceps goods are Vegan friendly. The simplest method is to check for labels, emblems, or certifications that declare "Suitable for Vegans."

Cordyceps Cs-4, for example, comprises an extract of the fungus Cordyceps Sinensis, which is known to improve athletic performance and provide health benefits. These are typically suitable for vegetarians and come in veggie capsules.

The mushrooms for vegan Cordyceps capsules are produced on a vegan and organic medium, unlike the "real" Chinese caterpillar mushroom, which derives its name from where it grows. The resulting CS-4 extract has the same nutritional profile and biochemical structure as the wild caterpillar fungus - down to the last molecule. Vegans and vegetarians can reap the benefits of this medicinal mushroom by using Cordyceps CS-4 extract.

Another way of ensuring that the Cordyceps mushroom is vegan-friendly is to look for products containing Cordyceps militaris. These are lab-grown mushrooms that do not involve the use of caterpillars.

Vegan Recipes With Cordyceps

Vegan Recipes With Cordyceps

Eating and cooking with Cordyceps militaris mushrooms is fun and healthy. You can either incorporate the whole mushroom or the powder.

Cordyceps with Shallots, Linguine, and Watercress

In an 8-inch sauté pan, gently saute 1 big julienned onion with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, turning occasionally, until the shallot is wilted and tender. Reduce by half with 1/4 cup dry white wine.

Wilt the Cordyceps militaris in the pan, then remove from the heat. Meanwhile, cook the linguine or spaghetti until al dente in a saucepan of salted water.

Drain the pasta and mix it in the pan with the mushrooms.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, then toss in a handful of watercress and chives. Warm the pan but avoid overcooking the cress and mushrooms, and divide the pasta between two warmed bowls.

Cordyceps Smoothie

Blend the following items in your blender:

  • 1 teaspoon Cordyceps mushroom powder (vegan)
  • 1 cup almond milk or any other nut milk of your choice
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into bits
  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Blend until smooth, adding more milk if required, and serve.

FAQs About Are Cordyceps Vegan

How Does Cordyceps Mushroom Taste?

Cordyceps have a savory, umami flavor and an earthy, nutty flavor akin to chestnut mushrooms. Most people prefer utilizing supplement powder because they are extremely rare in the wild and are usually farmed and extracted for its excellent health benefits.

Can I Grow Cordyceps Mushroom At Home?

Yes, you can, and if you're determined to produce cordyceps at home, several alternate mushroom production methods aren't as horrible as nature. The supplies and equipment needed to cultivate cordyceps at home are not difficult to come by and can generally be found at a hardware or supermarket store.

Are There Any Potential Side Effects Or Interactions To Consider When Using Cordyceps?

Cordyceps is generally considered safe for most people when used in recommended doses. However, some people may encounter minor side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, or stomach distress.

Key Takeaways

Are Cordyceps vegan? According to veganism, wild-harvested Cordyceps that involve the death of insects are not vegan.  On the other hand, lab-grown Cordyceps, which do not use insects, are often considered vegan-friendly.

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  1. Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs, (1) 
  2. The Anticancer Properties of Cordycepin and Their Underlying Mechanisms, (2)
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Properties of the Medicinal Mushroom Cordyceps militaris Might Be Related to Its Linear (1→3)-β-D-Glucan, (3)

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