New Kosher Meatless Alternative Finds Magic in Mushrooms


You have a hankering for a nice, juicy cheeseburger but you keep kosher, so it’s not possible.

Actually, it’s “Impossible” — that’s the brand name of a meatless line of faux burger products that came under Orthodox Union kashrut supervision last year, riding the wave of newly popular meatless cuisine among gastronomes.

Now comes a new entry into the kosher field of products that look and taste like meat but are not actually fleishig.

Meatless Nation, a start-up based in Teaneck, N.J., recently unveiled seven products — designed to taste like beef, chicken, sausage or bacon — made of shitake mushrooms, with a combination of spices that give them distinctive flavors.

This meat alternative, zamaze, “represents the next generation of meat substitute products,” according to the firm.

Meatless Nation’s founder, Daniel Berlin, is a food industry veteran who developed the pareve meat while working in Vietnam several years ago and witnessing numerous meals made from the mushrooms. Zamaze, he said, is a made-up word and a play on amazing. “It doesn’t mean anything in any language.”

His work on the line of meatless meat predated the new trend in the non-kosher world.

Berlin’s products are under the supervision of the Kof-K kosher supervising agency (a chasidic hashgacha may be added soon) and is now available at about a dozen kosher restaurants and 40 supermarkets in the New York area.

In addition to the OU-supervised Impossible Burgers, Morningstar Farms has for several decades offered a line of dairy “Grillers” products for the kosher consumer who wants a non-meat burger.

Food maven Elan Kornblum, president of the Great Kosher Restaurants Media Group, approves of the mushroom-based “meat.”

“I tried it” at a food-tasting competition, Kornblum said. “It’s a good substitute” for people who need to avoid genuine meat.

The advantage of zamaze? “There’s no ‘junk’ in it,” Berlin says. “Only natural ingredients. No cholesterol. We’re non-GMO, soy-free.” It’s lower in sodium and calories than genuine meat, he says. “It looks and tastes like real meat. You can throw it in a cholent. People don’t know the difference.”