Starting July 11, a vegan take on McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich will hit the menu at fast-food chain PLNT Burger. Created by celebrity chef and PLNT Burger owner Spike Mendelsohn, the Save the Bay Fillet features all of the indulgent seafood flavors of the cult-classic fish sandwich but is made without harming animals or the ocean. The sandwich is built around a breaded plant-based fish patty made by vegan brand Good Catch and comes topped with pickles, shredded lettuce, PLNT’s house-made tartar sauce, and is served on a potato bun.

“The Save the Bay Fillet is a really amazing showcase of plant-based innovation now available to the mainstream through great supplier partners like Good Catch Foods,” Mendelsohn said. “It combines all the flavor, texture, and lightness of a crispy fish fillet, and we dress ours up in a classic combination … a perfect summer special.” 

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A vegan Filet-O-Fish for the win

McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish describes its sandwich as being made with “fish sourced from sustainably managed fisheries” and similarly features tartar sauce, along with processed American cheese. After the recently released documentary Seapiracy shed light on the global fishing industry, including the often murky waters of so-called “sustainable” fisheries, Mendelsohn created the vegan Save the Bay Fillet to offer a truly sustainable fish burger option for people looking to end their support of the destructive global fishing industry. 

The chef’s mission is shared by plant-based brand Good Catch, which creates craveable vegan seafood using its proprietary blend of six legumes. Founded by brothers and vegan chefs Chad and Derek Sarno, Good Catch’s product portfolio includes vegan tuna pouches in Mediterranean, Naked in Water, and Oil & Herbs flavors as well as New England Style Plant-Based Crabless Cakes, Thai Style Plant-Based Fishless Cakes, and Classic Style Plant-Based Fishless Burgers. The brand launched its breaded line of vegan fish sticks, crab cakes, and fillets—the latter of which is featured at PLNT Burger—at select retailers in June.  

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“Our Plant-Based Breaded Fish Fillet from our new breaded line has pushed the culinary boundaries to deliver the taste and texture consumers expect from seafood,” Chad Sarno said. “As more buyers have become aware of the environmental impact of seafood, we’re excited to offer PLNT Burger patrons a delicious seafood alternative with the Save the Bay Fillet.”

In April, Good Catch’s parent company Gathered Foods raised $26.35 million—on top of the $36.5 million it raised from celebrity investors, including Paris Hilton, last year—to fund its expansion. The brand is also in a joint venture with Bumble Bee Foods and will leverage the tuna giant’s sales, distribution, and logistics expertise to make Gathered Foods’ vegan seafood products accessible to a wide range of customers at affordable prices.

Spike Mendelsohn’s growing vegan chain 

The Save the Bay Fillet is Mendelsohn’s latest creation at PLNT Burger, which he opened inside of a Whole Foods Market in Silver Springs, MD in 2019. Known for his many appearances on Food Network and Bravo’s Top Chef, Mendelsohn was inspired to get into the plant-based business after meeting Seth Goldman, the former executive chairman of Beyond Meat, who introduced him to the Beyond Burger. While PLNT focuses its offerings on Beyond Burger-filled creations, the menu also features vegan sandwiches made with fried oyster mushrooms that take the place of chicken and creamy soft serve that replaces dairy with oat milk. 

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Since opening his first location, Mendelsohn has been aggressively expanding PLNT Burger inside Whole Foods Markets across several states, with plans to open stand-alone restaurants this year. In May, PLNT (pronounced “planet”) opened its eighth location in Jenkintown, PA and named co-founder Ben Kaplan as CEO. “Since founding PLNT Burger, our vision has been to create the best burgers on the planet and for the planet,” Kaplan said. “By creating delicious food that will satisfy even the most discerning carnivores, we are changing the way people eat their veggies. And we’re helping people reduce their carbon footprint and improve their health one bite at a time.”

Earlier this year, Mendelsohn and Goldman carried their “eat the change” ethos over to a vegan jerky brand, called Eat the Change Mushroom Jerky. Created to provide a sustainable, cruelty-free alternative to beef, the duo’s new mushroom-based jerky is available at a variety of retailers nationwide in five flavors: Sea Salt + Cracked Pepper, Hickory Smokehouse, Maple Mustard, Habanero BBQ, and Teriyaki Ginger.

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