A vegan “seafood” brand that stocks realistic alternatives to shrimp, calamari rings, and squid pieces is coming to supermarkets across the UK.
HAPPIEE!, a Singapore-based brand launched by Growthwell Foods in 2022, will sell a variety of frozen products in Tesco and Ocado. The products are said to “deliver the same taste and texture as real seafood.” As well as its vegan “seafood,” a plant-based lamb shawarma will also be available. HAPPIEE! uses soy, potato, or wheat protein to create its alternatives, as well as konjac flour for the fish products.
“We’re excited to offer a product which meets not only the demand of the growing sector but also offers everyone an opportunity to enjoy a plant-based seafood or meat alternative that doesn’t compromise taste or texture,” the company said in a statement.
The “Calamariee,” “Shrimpee,” and “Squidee” products are available to buy online at Ocado now. They will be released in Tesco stores next month.
The rise of vegan seafood
While conventional meat alternatives (like burgers and sausages) have been around for a number of years, plant-based fish has – until recently – been a relatively niche product.
But a growing number of brands are now tapping into the booming vegan “seafood” market. A report published in November 2022 predicted that the market would rise to $1.3 billion by 2031. This would mean a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 42.3 percent.
The report cited “the depletion of natural ocean resources, rise in vegan population, increase in pressure on the global food supply chain, and increase in awareness regarding animal welfare and animal cruelty in farms” as factors driving the growth of the industry.
The problem with eating fish
It’s well-documented that consuming fish comes with considerable ethical and environmental costs. Around half of the fish we eat are raised on farms. Numerous investigations have uncovered extensive welfare issues on these. Fish will generally be forced to swim endlessly in circles in barren tanks in overcrowded conditions, sometimes with tens of thousands of others. Parasites like sea lice will often be prevalent in their enclosures, and fish may be eaten alive by these.
The industrial fishing industry catches a huge number of fish at a time with nets known as “bottom trawlers.” These can be as large as 240 meters wide and 160 meters deep. As well as catching fish to be sold and eaten, the nets will kill vast numbers of unintended species like turtles, dolphins, and sharks (known as “bycatch”). The nets also destroy vital coral reefs, ocean ecosystems, and whatever else lies in their path. Longlines may also be used to catch large numbers of fish. These can sometimes stretch on for miles, with hooks every few feet.
The fishing industry is directly contributing to the climate and nature crises. Having lots of fish in the oceans and healthy marine ecosystems helps sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The oceans are by far the biggest reservoir of carbon on earth, holding around 38,000 gigatonnes. Experts have long stated that our oceans are in danger of becoming severely depleted if we continue to fish the way we do. This would lead to the deterioration or loss of these vital ecosystems around the world.