Impossible Foods, maker of the beefless Impossible Burger, is taking the meat out of another animal product: fish.
Through research, the company found that heme protein (the same type found in their “meat” formula) can be used to reproduce the flavor of fish, so eventually, the fishless fish alternatives to, well, eating fish could taste just as good as the real deal. Except the “faux fish” won’t cause the health problems many believe are linked to eating fish nor will it have any negative environmental impacts.
The company hopes to offer alternatives for every animal-based food product by 2035, The Times reports.
Other food-tech businesses are in on the meatless craze, too, with alternatives to hot dogs, scrambled eggs and chicken nuggets already on the market.
Impossible isn’t the only one with a line in alt-fish food. A faux tuna is currently available at Whole Foods from plant-based company Good Catch, and San Francisco’s Wild Type is working on a fish-free salmon.
Lab Grown Dairy Is Here
The search for sustainable, healthy alternatives to meat currently has two paths: the meat-mimicking veggie burger and lab-grown proteins. But in the land of dairy, there’s only plant-based alternatives like cashew “butter” and almond milk.
Perfect Day, a Bay Area-based startup, has spent the last five years developing technology to make protein that is genetically identical to dairy protein through fermentation. The founders, bioengineers who happen to be vegan, both saw the need for animal-free dairy products that tasted better than alternatives on the market with plastic-like textures or cardboard-like flavors.
The easiest way to understand Perfect Day’s protein is to look at Impossible Foods, one of the leading companies in the alternative meat space. Impossible’s products are based on its plant-based version of heme, which is what makes meat taste like meat. Perfect Day singled out the protein that give dairy its taste and nutrition, then used a fermentation process to recreate it with fungi. The company says it is superior to other non-dairy proteins and requires significantly less resources and will eventually be cheaper to produce than cow dairy.
The company engineered yeast with DNA to make it produce casein and whey, the same proteins found in dairy. It’s lactose-free and avoids the environmental footprint of raising cows, from the land used for grazing or growing cattle feed to the greenhouse gas footprint from cow belches and manure. But it has the same nutrition as dairy protein and the same taste. Combined with plant-based fats and sugar, it’s possible to make ice cream that is indistinguishable from the real thing. “We’re able to use this protein to make products that totally scratch the itch in terms of having the experience, the mouthfeel, the flavor, and creaminess of dairy, but again, none of the animal downside,” says Pandya.