Mushrooms of all shapes, sizes, and varieties have been a staple food for thousands of years, not only because they are typically abundant and delicious but also because they’re packed with health benefits. 

Every ancient civilization has used mushrooms for food and in traditional medicine. Of the edible mushrooms, it’s estimated that about half of them are considered functional mushrooms, which means they have advantageous health benefits.

With a diet rich in mushrooms, you too can support your health and create mouth-watering meals, just like this one.

a pan of food

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe With Mushrooms


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 cup corn
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon sp pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon flour

Ingredients for Potato Topping:

4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon vegan butter
1/2 cup soy milk or nut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste

a plate of food


1. Preheat oven to 425°

2. In a medium-large pot, over medium heat, combine oil, garlic, and onions. Cook for about one minute, until the onions begin to soften. Add the celery and carrots, and continue cooking until the onions are translucent and soft.

3. Add mushrooms, corn, parsley, tomato paste, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper and mix well. Pour a half cup of the vegetable stock in, and allow it to rise back to a simmer, add another half cup. Continue adding a half cup of vegetable stock and waiting for a simmer until you’ve used up all of the vegetable stock. 

4. Add flour and mix thoroughly, continue stirring until the filling thickens. Then remove from heat, and pour into a pie dish.

5. Place your potatoes in a large pot and cover with lightly salted water. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling. Continue cooking until potatoes are soft and tender. Remove from heat and drain out the water.

6. Mash the potatoes with butter and milk, adding salt and pepper to taste.

7. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top of your vegetable filling and smooth with a spatula.

8. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow the pie to cool for about five minutes to further set before slicing and serving.

Nutritional Benefits of Mushrooms

While you’re waiting for your shepherd’s pie to cook, consider all the nutrition packed into these little fungus nuggets.

a group of mushrooms

While mushrooms are often considered a plant-based food, they actually fall into the classification of fungus. This means they do share some characteristics with plant foods, but they also share some with animal foods.

Some nutrients you’ll find in a mushroom include B vitamins, selenium, potassium, copper, and vitamin D. While you’re usually told to opt for brightly colored vegetables and fruits to get more nutrients and antioxidants, mushrooms are the exception as they are loaded with both.

Mushrooms contain an indigestible carbohydrate called chitin. This carb is found in shrimp and crab shells but not in plants. Because your body can’t digest this substance, it adds bulk to your meals, making you feel fuller longer and helping move waste through your body more efficiently.

Sometimes what’s most important is what food does not have. In the case of the mushroom, it does not have a lot of calories, has virtually no fat, no cholesterol, and they’re very low in sodium.

Mushrooms Support Immune Health

Beyond adding essential nutrients to your diet, mushrooms can also support healthy immune system function. They help to promote healthy immune responses and support healthy immune cell activity. 

Mushrooms contain a protein called lectin, which supports healthy cell growth and cellular aging. By helping to identify unwanted cells in the body, lectin promotes the activation of immune cells and their ability to defend against common problems. 

An article published in Molecules looked deeper into the functional food classification of mushrooms and found that they also contain powerful cleansing compounds that help promote antioxidant capacity in the body to reduce typical oxidative stress.

a basket of mushrooms and mushrooms

Mushrooms are Good for the Planet

While mushrooms are great for the human body, they also have some benefits for our planet as well. They can do more than you realize, including:

♦ Cleaning up oil spills
♦ Absorbing farm pollution
♦ Fighting off smallpox and the flu
♦ Combating unwanted insect infestations
♦ Creating a rich environment for farm and forest growth
♦ Serving as a sustainable fuel source

It seems that we’re discovering more benefits to the mushroom on an almost daily basis, even though this fungus has been among us for thousands of years.

The Bottom Line

With so many health benefits coming from mushrooms, it’s easy to see why incorporating them into more meals is good for you. 

And, it’s pretty easy to add mushrooms to savory meals you cook at home, like this vegan shepherd’s pie recipe. They add a pleasing texture and a nice mild flavor that’s very versatile. They’re also a fantastic substitute for meat if you’re vegetarian or vegan or if you’re just looking for a new meatless Monday meal.

If you’re interested in supporting your overall health, eating more mushrooms is a good place to start. In doing so, you can do your part to help our planet thrive, too.