The Lowdown: plant-based 'seafood'

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Plant-based tuna makes its European debut in London

Related tags: Plant-based, Seafood

A plant-based alternative to raw tuna, which up to now has only been available in the US, is to make its European debut at the Harro Food’s Japan Show at Hyper Japan this weekend.

So it’s tuna, but it’s not really tuna… what??
It’s really not that complicated. In keeping with the growing trend towards making plant-based alternatives to meat available to the consumer, we now have a yellowfin tuna substitute – known as Ahimi® – for any vegans craving some nigiri.

What’s it made from?
It’s made from tomatoes, filtered water, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar, and is said to mimic both the appearance and meaty texture of the fish. The producer, Ocean Hugger Foods, claim it to be ‘the world’s first plant-based alternative to raw tuna’ and say it was created as a response to the near extinction of tuna in our oceans.

Is it really a world first?
Having launched in the US over a year ago it may well be, but it’s certainly not the only fish-alternative to have recently entered the UK food and beverage market. Last month, London-based Hawaiian street food concept Island Poké launched vegan ahi – a plant-based poké bowl featuring marinated watermelon as a substitute to tuna served on a bed of sushi rice and topped with Wakame seaweed, pineapple chilli salsa and spring onion – across the seven sites it operates in the capital.

Can it really be called tuna given that it… well, isn’t?
That’s an interesting question. Back in April, the European Parliament’s agricultural committee ruled that designating plant-based alternatives as ‘meat’ should be banned claiming the names are misleading for consumers. Should such a proposal be passed into law, then producers and operators could be forced to refer to vegan burgers as ‘discs’, sausages as ‘tubes’ and steaks as ‘slabs’. A sashimi alternative would presumably have to follow suit, and adopt an unappetising moniker like ‘substitute sea slices’ or something.

Any other fishy alternatives on the horizon?
Funny you should ask. The California-based Impossible Foods company, which launched its Impossible burger in Burger King restaurants in the US earlier this year, is currently working on a ‘fishless-fish’ project as part of its plan to devise alternatives for every animal-based food on the market by 2035. Meanwhile, Ocean Hugger is working on producing other seafood alternatives including carrot-based salmon and eggplant-based eel.

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