More and more, innovators in the food industry are turning to the world of plants in an effort to create something delicious and sustainable these days. Their latest foray is showing great strides in the fun and flavorful world of fish.
Yes, you Mr. Tuna
Now we can have our unagi and eat it too, thanks to the creativity of chef James Corwell! Corwell’s desire to stop the decimation of bluefin tuna numbers has inspired the creation of Tomato Sushi, an amazing restaurant that creates tomato and eggplant based sushi so realistic that consumers can hardly tell the difference. Corwell was inspired to create the plant-based pleasure after seeing the immense amounts of bluefin tuna caught in Japan each day.
Instead of being daunted by the revelation, he decided to create something new. “The way I learned to cook with big slabs of meat [and fish] isn’t going to be possible in the future, and that’s nothing to be scared of,” Corwell said in an interview with NPR’s The Salt.
This is almost too pretty to eat … we will though. It looks delicious.
Lauded for being a healthier choice in the quest for lean sources of protein and omega 3s, fish consumption has surged in both developed and developing countries. While being mindful of health is always a good thing, increasing the amount of fish in our diets has caused some unfavorable results for the environment.
Commercial fishing practices have rendered 80 percent of global fish stocks, “fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.” Scientists warn that if these fishing practices are not stopped, we could see a collapse of every wild caught seafood by 2048. That’s only 33 years away.
Fish farms, or aquaculture, may seem like a good solution to the issue, but like that time an exotic prince emailed you for help in exchange for nine million dollars, there’s a catch. Fish like salmon, a popular fish species found in fish farms, need to eat too … and they eat fish. Overfishing of small fish to make fish meal for aquaculture could see the demand outpace supply by 2020. That’s only five years away. Seems overfishing in an effort to eliminate overfishing kinda defeats the purpose!
Something’s gonna have to give.
With the heavy impact that animal-based food production has on the environment in general, many plant-based meat alternatives have come onto the scene. It only makes sense that fish would be next!
Companies have already started taking vegan alternatives to the next level, with some pretty astounding and promising results. Artisanal cheeses made from nuts have started to phase out their rubbery and odd tasting predecessors, while plant-based milks have exploded in popularity – and that’s just the products that are trying to replace the original. The industry has evolved so much that forward thinkers are now looking to replicate the original.
Companies like Hampton Creek discovered a way to make a delicious and sustainable mayo using pea protein instead of eggs and are in the process of creating an egg alternative that can be scrambled and enjoyed just like its less eco-friendly inspiration. Beyond Meat, Muufri and Impossible Foods are throwing their hats into the ring as well, bioengineering items like beef (complete with “blood”) and milk from plant-based sources, in an effort to recreate the unsustainable original.
Plant-based alternatives are really cracking the code on sustainable innovation.
In the fish arena, Tomato Sushi has some compatriots as well. Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar and Izakaya in San Fransisco is the brain-child of sustainable fishing advocate, Casson Trenor, and focuses on making sushi-inspired dishes without fish, and Sophie’s Kitchen offers canned “toona” as well as things like breaded “scallops” and smoked “salmon.” As more and more of these options pop up, the responsible choice for the planet becomes easier and easier. Time to break out the wasabi and ginger!
Lead Image Credit: Tomato Sushi