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Is Plant-Based Vegan Fish on the Menu?

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Is Plant-Based Vegan Fish on the Menu?
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There are plenty of plant-based meat products already available such as Impossible Burger, Beyond Burger and Sausage. They are an accepted reality of our new eating habits as we urgently look to reduce our meat consumption, and they will be more and more part of our weekly shop at the grocery store and appear on menus when we dine out.

While vegan friendly hamburger meat, fake meat and veggie burgers are everywhere as are vegan cheeses and other plant-based products, we are generally light on plant-based vegan fish alternatives, until now, that is. A company called Good Catch have engineered a tuna substitute that is an entirely vegan alternative.

Not only are we over-fishing, even stocks of once plentiful fish are depleted, but the oceans are polluted and the fish we consume are, we are told, full of microplastics and mercury. Pregnant women are advised to avoid eating tuna, so there is good reason to think twice before putting it on the dinner table.

Good Catch has developed a tuna alternative. It’s far from the smooth-textured bluefin tuna  sashimi that we all love but it is a very good attempt at replicating the texture and taste of canned tuna, which represents the bulk of the fish sold, although sales of canned tuna have fallen by 43% recently, with company executives blaming Millennials, who don’t own can openers.

Four out of every 10 kilos of meat consumed around the world, are actually pulled from the ocean, whether they be farmed or caught. That represents a massive amount of fish and with populations projected to increase dramatically in the next few decades, there’s going to be increases strain on fish stocks.

Good Catch is based on a recipe of five legumes including lentils, navy beans, chickpea, pea, soy and fava. Spices, seaweed add flavour while algae oil is rich in Omega 3dha, so the fish substitute has comparable nutritional values to the real thing.

Last year New York-based company Ocean Hugger released their faux fish product called Ahimi which is designed to be used wherever real fresh tuna is used. They also invented an aubergine-based eel called Unami, which mimics the slightly tougher texture of eel.

Plant-based meat substitutes are a hugely growing sector and is expected to exceed $6 billion by 2023. This year is set to be the turning point in the adoption of plant-based proteins and had been highlighted as the year’s main trend. Even NBA players are getting in on the action. With an increased demand for plant-based meat substitutes, it represents less of a trend and more of a sea change.

We're still very far from golden brown vegan fish and chips with vegan tartar sauce and lemon juice and sea salt, and the reality for vegans miss the days when they could eat fish is fish sticks but at least there are alternatives. For many years, vegans suffered in restaurants where the only options were steamed vegetables or salads, vegan recipes are part of most chefs' repertoire. The future is very much plant-based and the next generation of chefs will work on vegan fish recipes, vegan batter ingredients or heart of palm calamari, vegan tuna or aubergine eel.

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