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Sustainable Meat: Seafood Made From Plants May Soon Replace Your Cafeteria Food

Jul 22, 2016 03:30 AM EDT
New Wave Foods used red algae to engineer and replicate the taste of the real shrimp.
(Photo : New Wave Foods/Press Release)

A healthier and more sustainable plate will be making its way to your cafeteria soon. New Wave Foods, a San Francisco-based sustainable seafood startup, announced on July 19 that it was able to secure seed investments from Efficient Capacity and New Crop Capital to successfully develop their very own lab-grown "shrimp."

Fake meat may be not as bad as some might think. Plant-based food alternatives had pretty much taken the world by storm. Just last year, researchers at Oregon State University were able to patent red marine algae that tasted like bacon.

But there is so much more to alternative food than red marine algae, like creating shrimp just as nutritious as the ones harvested in the ocean.

Shrimp is one of the healthiest seafood we have, making them one of the most consumed seafood in the planet. But a lot of other marine species depend on shrimp for food which means overfishing can threaten other species, too. New Wave Food said for each pound of shrimp caught, up to 15 pounds of other animals, including endangered dolphins, turtles and sharks, die due to the lack of food.

To address shortage and sustainability, New Wave Foods used red algae to engineer and replicate the taste of the shrimp while improving their nutritional profiles.

The lab-grown shrimp that is packed with protein has already been served in Google's cafeterias.

"The astounding scale of our consumption of sea animals is decimating ocean ecosystems through overfishing, massive death through bycatch, water pollution, carbon emissions, derelict fishing gear, mangrove deforestation, and more," said New Wave Foods co-founder and CEO Dominique Barnes in a press release sent to Nature World News.

"Shrimping is also fraught with human rights abuses and slave labor, so we're pleased to introduce a product that is better for people, the planet, and animals," he added.

New Wave Food promises to bring a truly sustainable shrimp. Barnes tells Digital Trends that their focus now is production as Google is not the only potential client they have on their list.

The market for meat analogs is expected to surpass $5 billion by 2020 and savvy investors are increasingly taking notice. In recent years, millions in venture capital has flowed into plant-based alternatives to animal foods from large food processors and investors, such as Bill Gates and Li Ka-shing, Asia's richest businessman.

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