The image of ‘sustainable seafood’ conjures up a picture of a humble fisherman catching what he needs for the day. In reality, most commercial fishing kills hundreds of thousands of other creatures (whales, sea turtles) as by-catch in huge nets, with dead fish and creatures being thrown back, along with trawlers losing mountains of ‘ghost fishing waste’. Vegan Fish Finger Sandwich (Lazy Cat Kitchen) is made from pressed tofu and nori seaweed (avoid for thyroid issues) and coated in breadcrumbs, served with a homemade vegan tartare sauce.
These are not real fish, so don’t give them to cats! Some contain pet-toxic ingredients like spices. Avoid seaweed for thyroid issues, and recycle plastic packaging with household waste or at supermarket bag recycling bins.
Many companies are now recycling it (a good idea but wash clothing and swimwear in a microfiber catch bag). Keep ‘recycled fishing waste’ items like flops or sunglasses for garden use (they would not biodegrade, if you accidentally dropped them in the sea). For plant-based crab, lobster and scampi recipes, see the post to show compassion to crustaceans.
If you are an angler, take your fishing gear with you and see tips to be a greener boater. Also see compassion to crustaceans & molluscs (crabs, lobsters, scampi, octopuses) and plant-based omega 3 supplements.
Many people and food service companies have boycotted Canadian seafood for years, in protest that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not kept his promise to end the awful seal cull. He may be very beautiful outside, we are still waiting for him to be beautiful inside, and do what he promised. The EU market is now much smaller (partly thanks to Green MP Caroline Lucas when she was an MEP). But seal fur and organs for traditional medicine are still sold elsewhere.
Vegan Fish Cakes (Gaz Oakley) are made with mashed potato and canned jackfruit (a fruit that tastes like meat) along with white miso paste, lemon and chives. Coated in breadcrumbs, serve with lemon wedges, turmeric vegan mayo and pickled radish with red onion.
Where to Buy Vegan Fish
To make things taste of fish, you use things that taste of the sea: so seaweed (not for people with iodine or thyroid issues), sea salt, and salty vegetables like celery or salsify (‘oyster vegetable’). Jackfruit (an Asian fruit) and banana blossom are also sometimes used. These vegan fish options are not all local, simply because we don’t have alternatives. A few are in tins, others have a bit of plastic packaging, so recycle at supermarket bins.
- Bonsan Kofu Fish-Free Fillet is made with kombucha tofu, with a flaky texture, nice with salad or to make vegan fish and chips. Fish-Free Tuna is good.
- Clearspot Organic Tofu Sea Cakes are made with smoked tofu and seaweed. Serve with fries, mushy peas and vegan tartare sauce.
- Many sushi bars now offer vegan options, or make your own vegan sushi & smoked salmon.
- Vfish Vegan Fish Sauce combines 3 different seaweeds with shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce, to produce a sauce with all the ‘fish’ flavour.
- VBites Making Waves Fish-Style Steaks are made with konjac flour and rapeseed oil, with lots of natural flavours, in a breadcrumb coating.
New Brands from Abroad
These brands are European (or sometimes from the US). But we don’t have anything similar here, and they also sell wholesale, to help get vegan fish on the menu:
- Novish (Netherlands) offers fish sticks, fish nuggets and fish burgers.
- GoodCatch foods offers crab cakes and more. Unlike the founders’ other company Wicked Kitchen (also sold in Tesco), this brand is all free from palm oil.
- Save da Sea Foods (Canada) makes smoked salmon made from plants.
- Fish from the Field (Germany) uses linseed oil to replace omega 3 acids, and offers baked fish, crispy fillets and vegan fish cakes.
- The Plant Based Seafood Company (US) offers crab-like cakes, coconut scallops and bay scallops. These plant-based dusted sea scallops are ready in 2 minutes, sent frozen keep dry ice bag away from pets and children.
Vegan Zeastar (Germany) sells tuna, zalmon, shrimpz, kalamariz and is soon to launch a vegan cod. Sold at Ocado or buy wholesale. This company’s aim is to eventually veganize every type of fish there is, and they already have a few products sold in stores across Europe, with amazing reviews. The creator of the brand worked for years to mimic the flavour and texture of fresh sea fish, and also includes omega 3 oils in the products. The range includes:
- Sashimi (a Japanese raw fish similar to sushi) is made with tapioca starch, and slices/holds flavour just like the real thing. Available as No Tuna or No Zalmon! Just defrost and thinly slice, and it’s ready to eat. Once defrosted, keep in the fridge and use within a few days.
- Coated Prawnz have a juicy bite, ideal for a sticky noodle dish, prawn linguine or a 70s-style prawn cocktail.
- Kalamariz is firm and chewy to save beautiful squid (octopuses are one of the most intelligent creatures on earth, and there are campaigns to stop them being eaten alive in some countries)
- Shrimpz helps to stop the devastating harvesting of the ocean floor with each catch. In lemon or chilli flavours. Pan-fry in a little oil to add to fried rice, fajitas (or just fry with Mexican spices and top with tomato salsa).
- Tasty Codd is the latest product. Ideal to replace one of the most popular (and overfished) species of seafood on earth, in Amsterdam vegan cafes are serving it in a batter, similar to Dutch dish Lekkerbek.
Plant-Based alternatives to Tuna
Tuna is a large (can reach over 6 feet) carnivorous fish, there are 8 species. All are nomadic and often change location, and are over-fished in many areas including Japan and Australia (90% have disappeared in the last 100 years). They are actually classified as endangered, yet still one of the most widely-eaten fish. Despite their size, tuna are very fast swimmers and (if not eaten by humans, orcas or sharks) can swim the entire Atlantic in around 30 days.
Vegan Tuna Mayo (The Veg Space) is a nice base recipe that you could use for a sandwich or salad. This is made with chickpeas and nori seaweed, and adds a little beetroot juice, to give the pink colour.
The main purse seine method catches around 66% of all tuna, which creates a massive net that circles the fish hunching together, therefore catches everything else in the area too. The method then ‘closes up like a drawstring purse: here’s an image from Marine Conservation Society. Although it only makes up 1% of global catch, the bluefin tuna is now critically endangered. So if you do eat fish, just look for brands that guarantee using methods that don’t have by-catch.
You can make ‘vegan tuna’ with a simple 4-ingredient recipe by Maribeth Abrams. Just mash up a can of drained chickpeas and add a few dollops of vegan mayo, chopped salty celery, salt and pepper (if you don’t have thyroid issues, you can add a little kelp powder, to make it more authentic in taste).
For a tuna mayo sandwich, know that plant-based mayos taste exactly the same, so you’ll never miss the dairy version. It’s also free from raw eggs (a food safety issue) and can be added plain or with added herbs and spices. Serve on good bread, for a tasty filling lunch or snack. Most tuna mayo sandwiches add other ingredients to taste like onion, celery, pickles and relish.
Good Catch makes vegan tuna melts, developed by the two vegan brother chefs behind Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen range. This is made from six proteins including peas, chickpeas and navy beans, and features a marine algae oil for an authentic sea taste. Recycle any plastic packaging with household waste or in grocery bag recycling bins. Good Catch Food Service offers vegan tuna pasta flakes for restaurants and hotels. The 2lb bags are stored frozen to keep up to 4 days in the fridge, for a freshly cooked tuna flavour. You can use it for a deli-style tuna salad and wraps, a Niçoise salad or serve hot with pasta, tacos, casseroles, soups, stews or for classic tuna melts:
- Naked in Water can be used in place of conventional tuna in sandwiches, tuna melts, sushi rolls and casseroles. Packed in water.
- Mediterranean adds in garlic, herbs, sweet pepper and a kick of spice, for a taste of Southern Europe. Perfect on a party platter, you can also use this to top your salads or crackers, or use inside pita sandwiches.
- Oil & Herbs is ideal as a protein boost for salad. Or mix it into pasta or use for an antipasto platter.
Sophie’s Kitchen Sea Salt Toona is a protein-packed alternative with a pea protein base. Sold in a tin, it’s perfect in a classic toona melt, salad or in vegan sushi. Also available in black pepper, this has the same look, smell and taste as tuna, plus an authentic shreddable texture.
- Loma Linda Tuna is sold in a tin, packed in spring water. Also as vegan tuna mayo, sweet chilli and lemon pepper.
- Marigold Vegan Tunah is another brand that is made from soya, sold in a zero waste tin. Served hot or cold, this is good with sundried tomatoes, green beans and new potatoes for a Niçoise Salad. Or serve with salads or sandwiches, or mix into rice and pasta dishes.
Junka Vegan Tuna Spread is a California brand, sold in original, spicy or lemon dill flavours. Made with wheat protein and flavourings like lemon, mustard, black pepper, paprika and sea-tasting algal oil, it’s perishable, so keep it in the fridge. Started as an educational non-profit.
Bonsan Organic Kofu Fishfree Tofuna (UK) is sold in stores, online or with many other vegan tuna alternatives at Vegan Kind Wholesale). Made from sustainably sourced kombucha-cultured tofu, use it in salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes.
- Badger’s Tunah Mayo is fresh in a tub. It’s made with sweet onion and vegan mayo. Free from cholesterol and palm oil, this is made with different types of seaweed for that fishy taste.
- Vegan Zeastar Sashi No Tuna is available to order online or from food service. Just defrost and thinly slice, and it’s ready to go. Once defrosted, it keeps in the fridge. Use it up within 3 days. It’s good in a ‘tuna’ poke bowl or lunchtime bento box with edamame beans, sticky rice and a sesame ginger dressing.
- Tunato is a new vegan tuna from Spain, made from tomatoes. Sold for the food service industry, it contains organically produced kombu seaweed, garlic and salt, along with whole cane brown sugar and soy sauce.
- Ocean Hugger Foods (US) offers chef-created tuna from tomatoes. High in protein and omega 3s but with zero cholesterol, the product was launched on news that 43% of tuna is over-fished, making it one of the least sustainable options out there. Developed by professional chefs, this is made of just 5 ingredients (tomatoes, gluten-free soy sauce, sugar, water and sesame oil). Also available to food service, the company also makes Unami (eel made from eggplants!)
Plant-Based Fish Fingers
Fish fingers are a real childhood staple, and one of the cheapest fish products on sale in supermarkets. They are popular in the UK, made from whitefish (usually cod) that is battered and coated in breadcrumbs, then eaten with ketchup, cocktail sauce or tartar sauce. Recycle plastic packaging with household waste or at supermarket bag recycling bins.
The image of ‘sustainable seafood’ conjures up a picture of a humble fisherman catching what he needs for the day. In reality, most commercial fishing kills hundreds of thousands of other creatures (whales, sea turtles) as by-catch in huge nets, with dead fish and creatures being thrown back, along with trawlers losing mountains of ‘ghost fishing waste’.
- Moving Mountains Plant-Based Fish Fingers are made with plant protein, with a flaky texture, wrapped in breadcrumbs. Serve with chips and peas, in a sandwich or with ketchup.
- VBites Fish Fingers are coated in crispy breadcrumbs. Serve with chunky chips and mush peas for a true cultural classic seaside dish.
- We don’t normally recommend supermarket own brands. But Aldi fishless fingers are palm-oil-free and cheap, so a good buy for families on a budget.
- Irish company Strong Roots sells worldwide its range of ready-meals including The Veg Finger. Made with cauliflower, parsnip and onion, it has lots of tasty spices too. Use to make a Veg Finger Sambo (comfort food, without the nets).
- Veganz (Germany) makes vegan sea-style sticks. These are juicy inside and have a crunchy breaded outside coating. Now enjoy your favourite dish from childhood, without having to cast a line.
- Vivera Fish-Style Sticks are sold in all good grocery stores. Made in The Netherlands from seitan wheat-meat, these are one of the most authentic breaded fish alternative out there.
Plant-Based Alternatives to Salmon
Vegan salmon is now very popular, as increasing numbers of people are concerned with fish welfare, by-catch, over-fishing and pollution. The most popular alternative surprisingly is carrots, which are often used to make the dish using other flavourings to make it fishy.
Salmon are fascinating creatures. Able to live in all kinds of water, they make the long journey home to where they were born and (if not eaten by a bear) give birth to new salmon. How they do this is a mystery, either through magnetic navigation or their strong sense of smell (they can smell one drop of scent in an area the size of 10 Olympic swimming pools). They are hugely threatened due to over-fishing, loss of habitat and climate change.
- Vegan Salmon Bagel (Green Evi) is an easy and affordable starter recipe. Salty and savoury, use this on toast, bagel or crackers, or add to salads, soups, pasta and rice.
- Try this Vegan Tofu Salmon Fillet (Carlo Cao).
- You can make your own vegan salmon from Vegan Smoked ‘Salmon’ Cheese Rolls (Full of Plants) are filled with vegan cultured cream cheese. Fresh and creamy with a subtly smoky flavour of the sea, your guests would never know this dish is vegan. Also try a recipe for vegan smoked salmon by a Spanish blogger.
- Carrot ‘Salmon’ & Cream Cheese Bagel (So Vegan) is a simple snack that keeps in the fridge for a couple of days, and can easily be doubled up or made gluten-free using different bread and liquid smoke.
- These Pan-Seared ‘Salmon Fillets’ (It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken) are made from tofu. Serve with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes, along with a salad or garlic green beans.
- Smoked Salmon with Capers & Dill (Avant Garde Vegan) is marinated 24 hours beforehand, in a broth of miso, paprika, sea salt, lemon, maple syrup and nori (avoid for thyroid issues). The ‘salmon’ is served with a vegan cream cheese made from lemon and cashew nuts, with cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast. Garnish with fresh dill and served on toasted rye bread.
- F-ish is a new plant-based alternative to salmon, sold in a glass jar with metal lid. In original or Lemon Dill, this is made from carrots, rapeseed oil, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke and sea salt. Keep in the fridge.
- Veganz Salmon-Style Slices (Germany) are made from seaweed (avoid for thyroid issues) and taste authentic, due to the unique beechwood smoking process. Recycle plastic packaging with household waste or at supermarket bag recycling bins.
Odontella Smoked Vegan Salmon are made with micro algae to create the world’s first vegetable marine salmon. Eat fresh, or pan-fry and garnish on pasta, pizza, salads, verrines, tapas or vegan sushi.
Plant-Based Alternatives to Caviar
Caviar is a luxury food from Russia, which is made from roe (fish eggs). Varying in colour and flavour, many are from endangered species, even though they are regarded as a luxury expensive food. Mostly from the Caspian Sea, campaigners ask people not to buy it, as sturgeon are almost extinct in some areas, due to the trade.
All species of sturgeon are protected under CITES (Conventional on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), and international trade in many types of caviar is not allowed, despite most markets being in the US and Europe. Why not try some plant-based versions instead?
Cavi-Art is another seaweed brand to replace lumpfish, cod and salmon roe. It also produces Tosago caivar (a substitute to masago and tobiko, for sushi and poke bowl) and seaweed pearls to pop on the tongue.
Vegan Caviar Luxury is made in Europe, also from seaweed. The company sells a vegan alternative to salmon roe (with the taste of soy sauce and ikura) and a vegan alernative tobiko (the taste of black truffle). This range was developed by a medical doctor whose family moved to Europe from the far east of Russia.
Vegetarian Caviar Club makes vegan caviar made from seaweed. Store in the fridge and eat within 30 days. Do not freeze. Avoid seaweed for thyroid/iodine issues.
- Black is perfect on linguine
- Wasabi is good on vegan sushi
- Red is a versatile vegan caviar
- Also in a truffle version