We’re pretty sure most of our subscribers have tried a meat substitute at some stage in their lives. Be it more long-standing options like Quorn chicken nuggets and Linda McCartney sausage rolls, or the modern wave of ‘bleeding’ burgers being led by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, the options are expanding.
In the last few years, vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian lifestyles have been gaining traction, with recent studies revealing that the number of meat-free meals consumed in Britain rose a whopping 87% between 2015 and 2017.
But less attention has been paid to the development of fish alternatives. With an ever-present concern of over-fishing in oceans, plant-based versions of tuna and salmon are seen by some as the eco-friendly answer. As a result, a number of start-ups have entered the arena, and their research is now beginning to bear fruit.
Flying free-from fish
Impossible Foods, which was boosted last year by funding from one Bill Gates, is one company that is mulling over an attempt to swim upstream and break into the relatively untouched market of plant-based fish.
The company’s burger is already in restaurants all over the United and States. Last month, it debuted in Hong Kong.
While the ‘beef’ patty has been the exclusive focus of commercial efforts thus far, members of the management team have nodded to other avenues of research. In fact, CFO David Lee said in April: “Impossible Foods’ platform enables us to understand and reverse-engineer all animal products – meat, dairy, and fish.”
Good Catch Foods has more concrete plans. Its fish-free tuna, which will be released at the end of 2018, has been two years in the making and is composed of a combination of six plant-based proteins: chickpea, fava, soy, lentil, navy and pea.
The humble pea makes up the majority of the protein, with Good Catch Foods using algae oil to recreate the briny taste and smell of fish.
With between 13g and 17g of protein per serving, Good Catch Foods can compete with real tuna. It is also set to release frozen crab cakes and fish patties within the next six months.
Seafood substitutes already on shelves
Quorn: Fishless Fingers, £2.50 per 200g, from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose
High in protein and fibre, Quorn’s rendition is made from its patented Mycoprotein, created from a fungus called fusarium.
VBites: Fishless Steaks, £2.99 per 200g, from Holland & Barrett
Covered in breadcrumbs and primed as an alternative for a fish and chips dinner, VBites’ fishless steaks contain fewer calories and more protein than your average catch.
Cavi-art: Seaweed Caviar, £2.29 per 100g, from Holland & Barrett
For those looking to spruce up a canape, this low-fat yet nutritious caviar alternative is made from seaweed and a lot less pricey than the real thing.
Arche: Organic No Fish Sauce, £3.60 per 155ml, from Thevegankind.com
Described as vegan maritime sauce, Arche have created a viable alternative for enhancing the likes of tofu and vegetables for a non-fish dinner.
VBites: Fish-Free Smoked Salmon, £1,99 per 100g, from Vbites.com
Smoked salmon has been given a makeover by the guys at VBites, who claim that their version is the only truly sustainably sourced salmon, as it’s both vegan and made from plants.
Seafood, without the catch
Terramino Foods are developing a fungi-based salmon burger that they intend to unleash come 2019.
They brew koji fungi – also used to make sake, miso soup and soy sauce – and harvest it as it develops. Similar to Good Catch Foods, Terramino then uses algae to enhance the flavourless fungi with a characteristically fishy savour. The algae also provides omega-3 fatty acids, a fish trademark.
According to Terramino, its ‘salmon’ burger has less fat than real salmon and is also a strong protein source.
Elsewhere, New Wave Foods recently released a plant-based shrimp that utilises both undersea plant proteins and – you guessed it – algae. CEO Dominique Barnes compared the process of making the ‘shrimp’ to making bread, with algae “being the flour.”
Ocean Hugger Foods, meanwhile, is focussed on developing the first vegan raw tuna. Its patented Ahimi Tuna is a tomato-based substitute. Recently, it struck a deal with US food service company Aramark to make vegan poke bowls.
Turns out there are plenty of non-fish in the sea.