Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown told the New York Times that so far, the company has primarily been working on perfecting the biochemistry of a fishy flavor. To do so, the team is using heme, the same "iron-rich molecule" that they used to create the beef flavor of the Impossible Burger. It doesn't seem like Impossible has successfully created a fishless fish yet, but the research and development team has successfully created an anchovy-flavored broth. So now that they've achieved the fishy flavor, recreating a fishy texture will be the next step.
“The only way we can succeed,” Brown told the New York Times, “is to make fish from plants that is more delicious than the fish that’s strip mined from the ocean.”
While some people believe that eating fish is a more sustainable, healthier, and less cruel alternative to eating meat from land animals, unfortunately, that's not really the case. A study published in the journal Science earlier this year found that the world's fish population has gone down by 4.1 percent since 1930, primarily as a result of overfishing. Wild-caught fish are often marketed as sustainable and good for the oceans, but unfortunately, commercial fishing has a slew of negative effects on the environment.
For example, trawling (dragging a large net through the ocean) can destroy coral reefs, and it also results in a ton of bycatch. Bycatch is when sea animals who fishermen don't intend to use — such as dolphins, sea turtles, porpoises, and other fish — are incidentally caught in the nets. According to the WWF, those animals are often out of the water too long to survive, and their dead or dying bodies are typically thrown back into the ocean. Not to mention, fishing nets account for a whopping 46 percent of trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — with most of the remaining 54 percent coming from other various fishing gear, according to National Geographic.
Brown is well aware of the fishing industry's unsustainable nature, and that's why he chose fish as Impossible's second product. “With respect to the urgency of the environmental impact, fish are second to cows, followed by other animals,” Brown told the New York Times. “That’s how I view it, and that factors into how we think about priority.”
Impossible Foods does not have a release date for the upcoming fishless product, but fans have a lot to look forward to from the plant-based company.
"We have no news to announce on the production of plant-based fish at this time, but it is absolutely the mission of Impossible Foods to make all meat, fish and dairy products that consumers love directly from plants as soon as possible," a spokesperson for Impossible Foods tells Green Matters in an email. "Impossible Foods is currently ramping production of our Impossible Burger, and will be focused on new products in the coming years."
In the meantime, there are plenty of other brands making vegan fish alternatives that will fulfill any cravings you may have for fish, including Sophie's Kitchen, Gardein, Tofuna Fysh, Good Catch, and New Wave Foods. Additionally, startup Wild Type recently debuted lab-grown salmon, made from the stem cells of a real salmon.