Life Cykel – the Aussie startup saving the world with mushrooms
Ryan and Julian from Life Cykel are two Australian guys passionate about the possibility of using mushrooms to save the world. They discovered the enormous potential of providing a healing, plant-based and sustainable protein through mushrooms, and have built such a cool closed-loop business, where they collect coffee grounds from cafés and restaurants, grow mushrooms on them, and then return the edible end product. We were curious to hear more about the uses of mushrooms for healing, how mushrooms are important for the future of our planet, and how these guys came up with the fantastic idea!
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
– I’m Julian, and I am running Life Cykel together with my partner Ryan. We are both from Australia. I have a background in physiotherapy and worked in Premier League as a physiotherapist. I have always been interested in health, but it didn’t grab me from a passion point of view at that time. After returning to Australia I started working with health consulting in the mining industry together with Ryan, and we began brainstorming on the disconnect between fresh food, health and the possibilities of sustainably feeding 9 billion people.
After a while, we figured out that mushroom farming ticked all the boxes. Firstly, it can be grown from a human waste product – coffee. This can be done even in cities and urban areas. It has a low water use, low electricity use, and can feed communities, towns, cities with a sustainable form of protein.
Tell us more about Life Cykel
– So, we are growing the mushrooms indoors! In Byron Bay, they grow in a greenhouse. but for the most part, we grow them in shipping containers. We use coffee grounds that we collect from cafés and corporate partners because they are super nutrient rich but acidic and often end in landfills. When coffee grounds in landfill are in an anaerobic environment, they create a greenhouse gas in the form of methane. Methane has 20 times the global warming capacity of carbon dioxide!
The health potentials of mushrooms are so big. 75% of pharmaceuticals today actually contain mushrooms due to their healing benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
What are the uses of mushrooms?
– The uses are so widespread. Within clothing, you can use mushrooms to make leather for handbags, purses, boots and so on. They can be used for biomaterials such as desks, building materials, isolation and furniture due to properties such as being strong, durable, not flammable, it can float, and its biodegradable. More commonly, mushrooms can be used for human health and immunity – we can eat and drink the mushrooms for enormous health benefits. Lion’s mane, for example, tastes like lobster when it’s cooked and can be used as a plant-based protein. Hen of the woods tastes like chicken.
Mushrooms can also break down hydro chemicals. For example in Richmond River in Byron Bay, we are working with the university to remediate the water and remove the E-coli, using the mushroom to eat it up.
How did you come up with the idea?
– It started with food and understanding the implications for our planet and human health. Some of the information on mushrooms has been written for 100 years, and we needed technology to catch up. The cost of tech has come down, which enabled us to do this, using nature as inspiration. We also found ourselves experiencing dissatisfaction for a lot of the innovation out there – Instagram, Facebook, and similar companies made billions of dollars for Silicon Valley but what does it do for humanity?
What are your hopes and dreams for the company?
– To continue to innovate, solve real issues with tangible, practical solutions that can be used everywhere. We want to transition from chopping down forests to building them, feeding populations with mushrooms, decreasing our footprint throughout the process. Mushrooms are also important in moving away from antibiotics. We need to think preventative medicine and not reactive – connecting the east and the west.
What are your top three tips for a more sustainable life?
- Give mushrooms a chance – consume them more. Trade in fish and chicken!
- Have mushroom coffee (chaga). stay away from dairy and almond milk – those are not sustainable.
- Become someone who enjoys experiences over materialistic possession. Vote with your wallet by not consuming!
What is your favorite meal?
– Oyster mushroom risotto or oyster mushroom red curry with zucchini, capsicum, eggplant.
Where can we get the products?
– Because of biosecurity we currently only ship the mushroom boxes abroad. You can find them all on our homepage.
The products we currently sell are:
- The Oyster Mushroom Box – a box to which you can add water to grow mushrooms on your own kitchen bench. They are a superfood containing protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium and vitamin B1, B2, B5, B6, and B7.
- Magick Mushroom Coffee – a smoother tasting coffee with the health benefits of increased antioxidants, immunity and oxygen utilization. The mushrooms used are Chaga (the highest source of antioxidants per gram in the world) and Cordyceps (known to increase the body’s oxygen uptake).
- Magick Lion’s Mane Latte – A soft malt caramel flavor tasting medicinal drink with the Lion’s Mane Mushroom, shown to give you better mental clarity and promote nerve cell growth.
- Magick Reishi Cacao – spiced chocolate with Reishi Mushroom that has been used throughout Asia to promote calmness and longevity.
- Magick Protein – vanilla and coconut flavored vegan protein with Reishi and hemp seeds. One of the most ethical proteins there are!