Maker of meatless burger testing waters for plant-based fish

As impossible as it might sound, vegans might soon have a fish option.

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The company that created the Impossible Whopper and Impossible Supreme pizza is testing the waters for a fishless fish.Impossible Foods has focused much of its work on the biochemistry of fish flavor, the New York Times reported.

The company again is using heme, the protein found in plants that gives the Impossible Burger its flavor.

In June, Impossible Foods’ research team created “an anchovy-flavored broth made from plants,” Pat Brown, the company’s chief executive, told the Times.

“It was being used to make paella,” Brown said. “But you could use it to make Caesar dressing or something like that."

Much of the Impossible Burger’s success has been from consumers who want to cut back on eating meat, citing cancer risks. But those risks don’t really apply to fish.

Supporters of plant-based foods say the need goes beyond just healthier meal options. They see them as an environmental imperative. According to the World Economic Forum, the world's fish stocks are 90% exploited, overexploited or depleted, mostly from overfishing.

“The commercial fishing industry is strip mining oceans and destroying aquatic ecosystems in a way that makes the plundering of the Amazon rainforest seem like small potatoes,” Bruce Friedrich, who runs the Good Food Institute, an organization that advocates alternatives to meat and fish, told the Times.

Brown admitted to the Times that “consumers aren’t crying out for plant-based fish.” But he predicted that would change if Impossible creates a product with the taste and texture of the real thing.

“The only way we can succeed,” he said, “is to make fish from plants that is more delicious than the fish that’s strip mined from the ocean."

"Until they tasted beef-free beef," he added, customers "weren't crying out for plant-based burgers, either."