The Next Protein Substitute on the Horizon: Alt-Fish

Brands are creating plant-based "fish" or growing its products from stem cells

Alternative fish
Alt-fish might be the next faux protein on your table. (Getty)
Getty Images/Westend61

What comes after meatless meat? Fishless fish, apparently.

That’s what Impossible Foods is banking on as it breaks into the alternative fish market, joining an already crowded field of brands that are creating plant-based “fish” or growing its products from stem cells. Impossible is utilizing heme once again — the “meaty” ingredient in its alt-meat burger — but just as a flavor portal in mimicking the taste of anchovy broth so far.

“It was being used to make paella,” Pat Brown, Impossible’s chief executive, told The New York Times. “But you could use it to make Caesar dressing or something like that.”

Other companies already developing their versions of these fish foods include Good Catch, which offers fish-free tuna at Whole Foods, and Wild Type, who’s growing salmon in its lab.

Impossible has bold plans to create an alt-version of every animal-based protein currently on the market by 2035, according to the Times. But whether that’s possible or even appealing to consumers is still unknown. Meatless meat is one thing, fish, however, is something fewer people may be willing to play around with. One of the main draws for flexitarians and those willing to try out alt-meat is the health aspect. Meat is a known cancer-causer, but you can’t say the same for fish — a food that’s generally quite healthy.

But there’s an environmental element that may strike a chord as well.

“The commercial fishing industry is strip mining oceans and destroying aquatic ecosystems in a way that makes the plundering of the Amazon rain forest seem like small potatoes,” Bruce Friedrich, who runs the alt-meat and -fish advocacy group Good Food Institute, told the Times. “With respect to the urgency of the environmental impact, fish are second [only] to cows.”

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