Could ‘Whole Cut’ Vegan Seafood Move People Away From Eating Fish?

Pacifico Biolabs is using fermentation to create a more ethical alternative to seafood


3 Minutes Read

Pacifico Biolabs co-founders Washington Logroño and Zac Austin Pacifico Biolabs co-founders Washington Logroño and Zac Austin think vegan seafood can help save the lives of fishes - Media Credit: Viktor Strasse

A startup has raised USD $3.3 million to fund the next stage of its development of “whole cut” vegan seafood.

Pacifico Biolabs, based in Berlin, is using fermentation to create seafood without the fishes*.

Fermentation is a 10,000-year-old natural food processing method. It is already used to make a number of alternative proteins, including a vegan cheese.

To create fermented seafood, Pacifico Biolabs cultivates microorganisms such as mycelium.

As well as sparing the lives of trillions of sentient beings, the process allows for greater control over nutrition, flavor, and texture profiles, making the products highly versatile.

$3.3 million for Pacifico Biolabs’ next step

Venture capital firms FoodLabs and Simon Capital led the raise, joined by Exceptional Ventures and Sprout & About Ventures.

“With the support of our expert investors, this funding will enable us to scale our solution effectively, setting the stage for launching our products across Europe,” co-founder and CEO Zac Austin said in a statement.

In the near term, scaling up will also allow the formula to be honed.

The vegan seafood market is growing rapidly. Other recent seafood innovations have included 3D-printed eel and shrimp.

Sustainable seafood is vegan seafood

A fish farm
Adobe Stock With vegan seafood available, there is no need to farm fish

It is impossible to know the exact number of fishes killed for humans to eat. Estimates put the figure around 2.2 trillion wild fishes and 124 billion farmed fishes.

As well the fishes directly caught and eaten, modern fishing methods result in huge amounts of bycatch. Bottom trawling is a common method that involves dragging huge weighted nets across the seafloor. This results in the indiscriminate catching of a huge variety of marine animals.

The seafood industry also has devastating environmental impacts. Trawling drags up plants and coral populations that are essential for maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems.

Moreover, lost or abandoned fishing gear adds 640,000 tons of waste to our oceans every year. Fishing nets account for 86 percent of large plastics within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Industry certifications, such as the Marine Stewardship Council, falsely reassure consumers without taking account of these harms.

Only plant-based fish and vegan seafood can guarantee the safety of all fishes.

*While the English language often refers to multiple fishes as “fish,” we have chosen to use the term “fishes” in order to emphasize their individuality. 

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