A recent report found a third of all UK commercial fish stocks are now in danger.Around 90% of tuna and cod in our seas has already been caught (the latter is now facing extinction if something does not change). Fish farms are not the answer – they’re cruel as fish can’t swim around and spread disease.
The most common choices for fish shop customers are cod and haddock. But with over 10,000 chip shops in the UK (and cod endangered due to over-fishing), alternatives are needed. Most chip shop fish is sourced from Iceland and Norway, with over 10% coming from one trawler (Kirkella). Yet when asked, just a third of MPs knew that most fish sold is from waters beyond the UK and EU. Read more on vegan fish & chips!
Moving Mountains is a popular brand of ‘fish fillet’ free from palm oil and mostly in sustainable packaging (recycle any plastic at supermarket bag bins). Founded by a vegetarian who was told by his doctor that he had to give up dairy to get well, he now runs a hugely successful food brand that’s sold wholesale to shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels.
Read up on food safety for people & pets (avoid seaweed for thyroid/iodine issues, and many foods are unsafe near animal friends).
Although most items replace meat, the company makes good fish fillets (nice with chips and peas) and no-fish fingers (as good as the Captain’s!) Lovely in a sandwich or dunked in ketchup. You can use this plant-based fish to make vegan sushi (mix with cucumber, pepper, spring onion and vegan mayo, then layer with cooked rice).
It’s a big multi-national company but to be fair, Quorn does offer some good palm-oil-free fish alternatives. Try a Fishless & chips sandwich (bake their fishless fingers and chips in the oven, then mix up cabbage, carrots, herbs, mustard and garlic with vegan mayo to make your own coleslaw, then serve in a bun).
Sea & Believe is an Irish company producing ‘plant-based cod’ and goujons from seaweed. This company is even retraining fishermen in Ireland to become seaweed farmers, to provide hundreds of jobs in rural communities. Seaweed also only needs energy needed to pump seawater, compared to farmed salmon which needs 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of farmed salmon.
plant-based alternatives to tuna
Tuna is one of the more popular seafoods, but there are huge issues with over-fishing which causes by-catch (dolphins, seals, whales, sea turtles and sharks get caught in nets) and ghost fishing waste (discarded hooks and nets trap marine creatures and seabirds). Almost half of all Pacific garbage is made up of discarded fishing nets, with up to 5 million fish caught every minute. Each Scottish salmon farm produces as much waste as a town of 10,000 to 20,000 people each year. Try this vegan tuna salad (Crowded Kitchen).
It’s good to start with plant-based tuna, as recipes are simple and tasty. Very over-fished, tuna are large fish that can live over a decade (one fisherman off New England’s coast tagged one in 2004 that was found in a Mediterranean fish trap 14 years later, proving they can swim the entire Atlantic ocean). This Vegan Tuna Mayo is made from chickpeas and nori seaweed.
Fishpeas sells ‘canned fish’ for vegans including white fillet in oil, wheat pollock, tuna flakes and spread. Sold in tins, these are made with pea protein and come from Latvia. Most supermarkets now sell tins of vegan tuna. Choose from own brands (like Sainsbury’s Chuna’) or major brands (John West now offers vegan tuna).
Bettafish is a German company offering vegan tuna made from peas and sustainably-harvested seaweed (from a Norwegian algae farm) with users saying it’s tastes like the real thing. It also offers ready-made tuna products like pizza and sandwiches (sold in Aldi on mainland Europe, why not here?)
Jinka is a tasty plant-based tuna that’s rich in protein, which began as a sandwich snack for a local non-profit children’s camp. In original, lemon dill or spicy, the company also makes plant-based calamari and crab poppers.
plant-based alternatives to smoked salmon
This carrot & ‘cream cheese’ bagel (So Vegan) makes just the tasty snack you need. You can prep the ‘carrot salmon’ ahead of time to marinate for up to 2 days, and leftover ‘cream cheese’ keeps for a few days in the fridge, in an airtight container.
This vegan smoked salmon (Veggie Desserts) is made from marinated carrots! You don’t need to eat it for omega 3 fatty acids (which are destroyed when fish is cooked anyway, easy to get from other foods).
Vegan salmon with lemon dill sauce (Nora Cooks) is a surprising mix of tofu soaked in a marinade of beets and umami, for a ‘fresh from the sea flavour’ that also is the right colour!
These vegan salmon fillets (Carlo Cao) are a bit more ambitious, by a talented Swiss-Italian chef. Serve with a squeeze of lemon, roasted veggies for a delicious meal.
Zalmon is expensive, but a nice treat. Made with carrots, rapeseed oil and liquid smoke, it’s sold in a glass jar and ideal with vegan cheese and crackers.
One reason to eat less salmon, is to leave some for native wildlife and birds. Up until recently, seals were shot dead in Scotland to ‘protect fish stocks’, which is not only unkind but traumatised shore walkers (including children) who would see dead shot seals. The UK government is presently considering banning the fishing of sandeels (the small silvery fish you see in puffin photos) to protect their food, at a time when they struggle to find food).
If you eat fish, look for the blue eco label from Marine Stewardship Council which certifies where fish is from and how it’s caught. Their 2022 report found 76% of Iceland’s own-brand seafood was certified by them (that means 24% own-brand and other brands aren’t). If they came out top, what are others doing? Some people prefer to boycott Canadian seafood, until the baby seal cull ends.
plant-based alternatives to sushi
Sushi is one of the world’s most popular fast foods, but there’s no need to eat real fish. This Easy Vegan Sushi (The Veg Space) offers four shapes and varieties, using the staple ingredients of rice, rice vinegar, ginger and nori sheets. Then just assemble with your veggie fillings (cucumber, broccoli, carrots, peppers).
Vegan Sushi (ElaVegan) is a slightly more elaborate recipe, which you can use with your favourite veggies, and even fill with your favourite dairy-free cream cheese.
Konscious makes sushi made from whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits (in four flavours, plus plant-based salmon and poke bowls). Made by chefs, these meals are flash-frozen and ready to thaw at home. Moving Mountains sell fishless fillets, which you can use to make vegan sushi (mix with cucumber, pepper, spring onion and vegan mayo, then layer with cooked rice).
plant-based alternatives to shrimp & prawns
Prawns and shrimp (smaller and found in cooler waters) are similar creatures, small crustaceans that spend most of their lives on the seabed, llooking for food. Although eaten worldwide, shrimp trawling causes havoc worldwide, using bottom trawling that threatens both mangrove forests and seagrass beds, along with a huge issue of by-catch (also catching other species like sea turtles that feed on seagrass). So why not try some plant-based versions instead?
This recipe for vegan shrimp (Olives for Dinner) uses King Oyster mushrooms, sliced into scallop-style shapes, and soaked in warm water, before preparing and cooking, and serving with ‘bang-bang sauce!
Scallops are living bivalves, who ‘clap’ their shells together to escape predators. These vegan scallops (Loving it Vegan) also use King Oyster mushrooms, cooked in a lemon/garlic parsley sauce with vegan butter.
The Plant-Based Seafood Company offers ‘mindblown’ scallops, crab cakes and shrimp (below), made with konjac root and algae protein. Endorsed by top chefs. This female-owned company is doing all it can to reverse the 50% destruction of our coral reefs in the last 50 years. 38% of mangrove deforestation worldwide is caused by shrimp farming. Recycle packaging at supermarket bag bins.
Happiee offers breaded shrimpiee, squidee rings and breaded calamariee! Sold plain or breaded, these are ideal for stir-fries, curries, ramen, paella and pasta. Sold at Ocado, again made with konjac (and tapioca starch) with a lightly seasoned delicate taste and firm texture.