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The next big thing: plant-based FISH

Just a few years ago, plant-based meat was a niche market for die-hard vegans. Now alternative proteins can be found at every grocery store across the country, and they are regularly consumed by meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.

 

But this plant-based revolution is not over yet. There is a growing class of food innovations fighting for the remaining empty shelf in the exploding market – seafood. Five years ago, plant-based fish would have seemed like a crazy idea, because seafood was already considered a healthy alternative to animal-based proteins.  Although it is still only a $12 million market (while the traditional seafood industry is worth billions of dollars), in 2020, sales of plant-based seafood grew 23% in the U.S. The sector is changing rapidly. Investment in U.S. plant-based seafood was at record $70 million in the first half of 2021, as much as in the past two years combined.

 

The growing interest in alternative fish is fueled by concerns about overfishing, heavy-metal consumption, and microplastics. Seafood is typically procured in one of two ways: industrial fishing or fish farming. Neither of these is a sustainable means of food production, as they both entail serious environmental and ethical consequences. Therefore, more and more people decide to make a switch. The potential market could be beyond anything we can imagine right now: vegans, flexitarians, pregnant women avoiding high-mercury swordfish, consumers with a shellfish allergy, etc.

 

What is plant-based seafood made of? And what about the taste? When it comes to plant-based seafood, there is an option available for everyone. Some are made from pea protein or a mixture of different plant-derived proteins. Others are made from trehalose, a type of sugar derived from plants, and water. A primary ingredient in many brands of plant-based seafood is seaweed, as it can contribute to the authenticity of the flavor.

Because seafood is rich in vitamins and minerals, which already makes it a healthy protein alternative to meat, vegan startups have to ensure the same nutrients end up in their plant-based replicas. So many use algae and canola oil because they contain the omega-3 fatty acids, just like conventional fish.

 

“Since we know how consumer expectations and preferences for plant-based meat alternatives have evolved, we can make certain predictions about the future of the plant-based fish market,” says Ross Glick, founder and CEO of Vegan Warrior Project that helps restaurants bring in additional revenue by connecting them to its network of plant-based delivery concepts. “It is not enough to be just plant-based – the products also need to deliver on texture and succulence, nutrition, and above all, fantastic taste.”

 

Producers of fish-based and plant-based seafood options are tasked with achieving authentic, clean seafood taste that features the unique mouthfeel and body associated with fresh fish, while also managing sodium levels.

Without question, today’s more sophisticated and discerning consumers will be seeking vegan seafood products that check all the right boxes.

Keeping all that in mind, Vegan Warrior Project is pioneering a plant-based sushi initiative, introducing a breakthrough vegan idea by partnering with Michael Sinensky and Erika London from Simplevenue, successful entrepreneurs who founded a number of prominent clubs and restaurants in New York and Miami. Sinensky’s impressive resume currently includes Hudson Terrace, Village Pourhouse, SideBAR, Vintage Irving, and Dino’s. With Michael and Erika’s experience in the restaurant, entertainment and event planning industry, they will surely turn your vegan dining into a spectacular show. Stay tuned! Something amazing is coming to NYC!

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