Why This Entrepreneur Went From Farming Pigs to Making Vegan Bacon

Entrepreneur Eben Bayer grew up on a small family farm in Vermont where he helped raise and kill chickens and pigs. Now, his passion for solving the world’s biggest problems has turned him toward disrupting animal agriculture, with a hyper focus on Replacing pork bacon with a vegan version made from mycelium—the fast-growing root systems of mushrooms.

Bayer is best known for his company Ecovative, which employs the magic of mycelium to create sustainable solutions to problems such as plastic packaging, leather production, and building materials. Ecovative’s products have been widely used by major clients such as IKEA. Last year, the company began working with PVH Corp.—the parent company of fashion brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger—to replace both plastic-based vegan leather and animal-derived leather with its environmentally and animal-friendly mycelium leather.

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Bayer was inspired to start Ecovative during his time at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where late professor Burt Swersey pushed him to identify the most pressing issues in the world and then develop technology to solve them. However, the entrepreneur’s upbringing kept him from thinking about mycelium as a solution for the environmentally destructive animal agriculture industry … until now.

“I had a blindspot around food. I

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