Female Disruptors: How Dissaya Theerakaosol of Shroomeats Is Shaking Up How We Think Of Vegetarian Meat
Patience is something we learn over time. When you start a business you have so much fire and inspiration you want to be successful overnight, at least me. But things take time and with every day working towards your goal, it teaches you patience and to “not give up” because you know you are on your way there. You can rest or fall down, but always get back up.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dissaya Theerakaosol.
Dissaya is an aspiring natural food innovator with an eye towards sustainability. She thought about her previous life running her environmentally friendly tourism company, planning numerous trips that showcased climate change and distress on our planet. She produced itineraries that went under the sea, to working farms around the world, and to local villages where freshwater was often scarce. Then she needed to consider all that was important to her if she was going to cultivate a food company. Over the next several months, Dissaya got to work in the kitchen, trying new recipes that incorporated shiitake mushrooms and other healthy ingredients. She ultimately created a savory and delicious mushroom ball and patty that could be included in most of the meals she and Jariya, her mother, ate together.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In Thailand where I grew up, there is an abundance of diverse ingredients and foods that inspire so much creativity. In my home at a young age I often cooked for my vegetarian mother and worried about her nutrition. This led to many culinary experiments with shiitake mushrooms because of their many known health benefits, umami taste, and hearty texture. However I didn’t start my career with food. Following in my father’s footsteps, my educational background is in architecture with a minor in global sustainability and I began my career as an interior designer after high school. Later on, I shifted into tourism by starting my own company where I saw nature and the environment change drastically over the years. I realized that consumerism has a huge impact on the planet.
Shroomeats started from the combination of my passion for the environment and those countless experiments with shiitake mushrooms in my kitchen for my mom. I want to provide a versatile plant-based option for those who want to get their health right by adding diversity to the meat alternative market.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
A lot of meat alternatives out there are mimicking meat and are made of countless questionable ingredients in order to make them “seem” like meat. Shroomeats products are made with only 6 non-gmo ingredients because we want to keep it natural, simple, and whole. We take advantage of the natural characteristics of mushrooms to achieve an outstanding hearty texture that has a great mouth feel. It also has a good amount of protein that can serve as a foundation for a variety of dishes.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
When you start a business based on passion, it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed. I am lucky to have amazing friends who listen to my crazy ideas and help me shape them in more realistic ways. The more you ask, the more you will know. I reached out to many friends and family who run businesses to get their perspectives. One person that stands out is Karine, one of my old bosses. She once said, “It’s easy or it’s hard”, meaning if it really comes from your passion, you will do everything possible to make it happen and it will just flow naturally.
Another teacher — make mistakes! You won’t do the same thing again and you’ll be smarter next time.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Patience / Never give up / “May The Force be with YOU”
Patience is something we learn over time. When you start a business you have so much fire and inspiration you want to be successful overnight, at least me. But things take time and with every day working towards your goal, it teaches you patience and to “not give up” because you know you are on your way there. You can rest or fall down, but always get back up. I also believe in The Force (thanks, Star Wars!) because it is your own power to achieve something. You may be encouraged by people around you who support you, but it’s not as strong as your own.
How are you going to shake things up next?
We have supplied eleven grocery stores in LA for about a year, and recently our products have become available for online purchase nationwide. We want people across the US to take these amazing products into their kitchen, cook them, eat them, and feel great about themselves afterwards. In addition, we have new products lined up to launch soon and we are also aiming to expand our distribution to parts of Asia. We want people across the globe to be able to enjoy Shroomeats in their kitchens soon.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
My most favorite book of all time is “Cradle to Cradle” by William McDonough. It portrays the cycle of human development and activities along with our consumerism. It shows that nothing ever disappears, meaning every action has an effect on at least one person or one thing. But we never ask where food comes from and where waste goes. We can’t survive without food, yet we have been disconnected from the process of cultivating or hunting for sustenance. Having been fed by the mass production of crops and animal farming for so long, we have forgotten to look at the impact it has on our lands and waters. This book sparked my purpose for living. It showed me a much bigger picture of life and what global development really is. We can make impactful changes through our food supply. This industry will always grow, but I know we can make it grow in a positive direction if we choose.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
“Pay it forward!” When you receive something nice from others, whether it’s words, gifts, help, or just a good thought, send it out ten times more. Always be kind and give when you can to others, even if you don’t receive it. Kindness makes our society a much better place and I believe that is the root of happiness. When you are able to give without expecting anything in return, it’s like you recharge your soul and believe me, it always feels good to do something nice for someone. If we can strategically do this in our own community, it builds a strong foundation of a sharing culture, looking after one another and creating a sense of community as human beings.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Every small step is one step closer” is keeping me determined on my entrepreneurial journey. The ultimate goal might seem so far away, but even a small step can take me a little closer to my success. When you start a business or a project it takes time and it’s going to feel far away. But have a clear goal, whatever you do that gets you closer to it, every move counts.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook : Shroomeats
Instagram : Shroomeats
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!