7 Best Vegan Seafood Brands
The ocean is so vast and teeming with life that it seems indestructible, but this natural wonder is being pushed to the brink. Pollution, plastics, climate change, and deep-sea drilling all contribute to the destruction of our oceans, but one of the greatest threats to ocean life is overfishing.
Commercial fishing disrupts the fragile balance of the marine ecosystem by destroying ocean habitats, depreciating the water quality, being a major source of plastic pollution, and incidentally catching non-targeted species (bycatch). In addition to the ecological damage, the increasing demand for seafood has resulted in many commercial fishing expeditions employing questionable labour practices and exposing workers to hazardous conditions that often put their health at risk.
Plant-based seafood alternatives play a crucial role in preserving the environment and mitigating the effects of commercial fishing. And that’s why Meatless Monday is thrilled to bring attention to innovative brands pushing the envelope of what can be created out of simple plant-based ingredients like seaweed, peas, lentils, tomatoes, and soy.
A vegan diet involves cutting out animal products like meat, fish, dairy and eggs.
According to the latest research by the Vegan Society, conducted in 2018, there are around 600,000 vegans in Great Britain.
It's estimated that this is up from 150,000 in 2006 and that there are twice as many women as men who are vegan.
Around 360,000 people also describe themselves as lifestyle vegans, who commit to only using or buying cosmetics and clothes free from animal products, for example.
Specifically, have you tried out any of the vegan seafood available today? For some reason, this is an often-overlooked part of the plant-based alternatives market.
Seafood has such a specific taste, smell, and texture, you might be skeptical about testing out a substitute. Let us reassure you it’s worth taking the plunge. Being that our fragile oceans are suffering the consequences of overfishing and pollution, there’s never been a better time to try it.
From caviar to crab cakes, plant-based seafood is easier to find online and in supermarkets than ever before. The vegan seafood market is also taking off as brands work to meet the growing demand for plant-based products. But with so much to choose from, what are the best vegan seafood options out there? And first of all, what, exactly, is vegan seafood made from?
The Problem With Seafood
Ideally, seafood is literally life. They are monitored in a number of ways to ensure a healthy supply and diversity of ocean life. Because seafood is already sustainable, farmers and seafood processors are working to make their operations more ecologically friendly and responsible.
Seafood isn’t just a matter of choice. They are monitored in a number of ways to ensure a healthy supply and diversity of ocean life. Because seafood is already sustainable, farmers and seafood processors are working to make their operations more ecologically friendly and responsible. But in recent times, it may not be the case for everyone.
Last December 2015, an international ban on the commercial trade in monk seal pups, milkfish, and large swaths of endangered squid was put into place by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This brought much-needed attention to the way fisheries are managed around the globe.
Just last year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) highlighted these concerns in a report entitled “A Roadmap for the Future of Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture”. Among other issues, the report cited the impact overfishing is having on sea life. Overfishing is causing the loss of an estimated 40% of world fish stocks.
Even among foodies, seafood connoisseurs, and mainstream consumers, not many people think twice about consuming seafood. It’s arguably one of the most popular meats in the world. In fact, we eat some 80 percent more of it than other meats, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
The problem is that farmed seafood has a toxic effect on the environment. Crucially, this is no small issue. Farmed seafood has a toxic effect on the environment. The blue-green algal blooms caused by polluted water harm sea life, decrease food diversity and affect the fish stock. Fish are also kept in confined pens so they can’t swim as freely as wild ones. That means they’re restricted in how far they can dive and spread their feces, which contaminates the surrounding area.
What Is Vegan Seafood?
If it was easy to find a vegan alternative to what we normally associate with seafood, chances are good that we would have already done so. Instead, vegan seafood covers any food that contains seafood in the ingredient list. Now think about all of the options that you’d be considering, the field gets pretty crowded. When it comes to seafood in general, there are far more types and varieties than you might think.
To make it more manageable, we’re breaking things down into a few types of fish to help guide you:
- Blackfish: This fish is the result of cross-breeding:
- grey as the result of sharks and whitefish.
- Red is the result of haddock and silver is the result of pollock.
- This fish is the result of cross-breeding:
- grey as the result of sharks and whitefish.
When we say ‘vegan seafood,’ we don’t mean seafood that has a Vegan-friendly seal on the package. Rather, we’re talking about seafood that is made with plants—i.e. fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other creatures that have a hard time reproducing on their own.
As much as we would like to think otherwise, that doesn’t mean it has to be as harsh on the earth. After all, many of these creatures provide so much valuable life to the sea, right? However, because the life cycle of each and every one of them is different, all the life they produce is not equal. On top of that, many of these animals are crucial components of the food chain. Without them, our oceans would be devastated.
Economic Analysis On The Vegan Seafood Market
Here’s some background into the current market of vegan seafood: According to the Chicago Tribune, while “vegan” is still a fairly new word, the marketing of vegan seafood has risen steadily since it first appeared in 2011. The Chicago Tribune explains that the movement, especially when it comes to seafood, is rapidly evolving.
After years of small-scale adoption, the national restaurant chain, Whole Foods, started selling sustainable vegan seafood in stores like they do other products, such as meat and dairy. A few short months later, Whole Foods launched its own line of vegan seafood in two popular supermarkets. In 2010, the USA Vegan Seafood Association (USAVSA) was formed to promote the industry.
In 2016, the seafood and seafood preparation category generated $6.9 billion in sales according to statistics. For perspective, that’s a larger market than some of the most popular supermarket brands. But, as the market grew, so did the number of choices for vegetarians and vegans who wanted to broaden their culinary horizons. As the market continues to grow, more and more companies are coming out with vegan seafood options.
Types Of Vegan Seafood
You’re probably used to thinking of seafood as a cold cut, which isn’t much of an option if you want to enjoy it at a summer barbecue. Fortunately, the meat alternatives are becoming more and more appetizing. Plant-based shrimp and crab are great alternatives to the real deal since their texture and taste are nearly indistinguishable from seafood.
It’s hard to go wrong with classic lobster, but non-vegans are pleasantly surprised with their delicious and chewy Asian flavours, as well as these innovative vegan items:
- Edamame (which is really just soybeans cooked with garlic and onions),
- Shoyu tofu Maui,
- Nanny’s, or Daiya cheeses.
Other vegan items such as vegan cheese, dairy, cheese alternatives have grown to become one of the most popular plant-based foods today. Cheese alternatives have proven to be especially popular with plant-based eaters as they don’t have the lactose or casein ingredients.
These two dairy proteins are found in most dairy products. There are a variety of vegan cheeses out there, and some are made with nuts and veggies while others are made with only plants. Daiya’s cashew-based cheese is available in 24-ounce tubs, making them an easy go-to snack.
Why You Should Eat Vegan Seafood
In today’s modern age, where people do anything and everything to lose weight, conventional dietary advice generally makes us rethink what to eat and why. But new evidence is adding to a growing body of knowledge that eating animal products has detrimental impacts on our bodies, planet, and waterways.
This is prompting consumers to seek out food choices that are better for them, the environment, and our health. In fact, recent research suggests that making small adjustments can reap big rewards. So, why aren’t more of us embracing a more plant-based diet? Animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This pollution makes it harder for the planet to combat climate change, exacerbating the effects of global warming.
PETA’s vegan fish recipes are packed with vitamins A, B12, and D, and are packed with protein and omega-3s. Photo by Kat Akerman. Seafood is generally a very healthy source of protein. You can get plenty of calories from it (up to 350 for a 3.5-ounce serving) while still being good about portion control.
And, contrary to what you might think, eating vegan seafood does not mean you are missing out on delicious fatty ocean foods like crab or fish filets. There are plenty of plant-based seafood options to choose from, and some can even be enjoyed straight from the can or package. Just like regular seafood, these seafood options are rich in healthy nutrients like vitamins and minerals. The nutritional value of seafood is often misrepresented in the press.
If you are at a restaurant, it may seem like there’s not much you can eat. The most common seafood on the menu might be tuna or salmon, and it’s often a shock to realize you can’t order them as an entree. Your best option is typically crab cakes or seafood salad. But since there are so many vegan seafood options, the best seafood can always be found. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your favourite meals. Instead, ask for the most vegan alternative or create your own from a combination of ingredients.
How To Choose The Right Vegan Seafood Products
Pick something you like,” says Sarma Melngailis, the CEO and founder of Hampton Creek. Instead of overwhelming you with dozens of different brands, she encourages you to focus on products that have something to offer. For example, if you’re not a huge fan of shrimp, but don’t like to order the vegetables in your sushi rolls, try a vegan shrimp substitute like VBites.
If you love cooking fish, consider going with tilapia, which is one of Hampton Creek’s top picks. After you narrow down your options, it’s time to consider what you want to eat. You might be pleasantly surprised by how many of the seafood options are crispy, fried, or covered in sauces. Some options are steamed and cooked in plain water or a simple broth.
Whether you’re vegetarian or vegan, it’s good to know your options. While many seafood replacements are easily comparable, some are quite different. Here are the two main types of seafood substitutes: Shellfish Substitutes: Raw tofu Lime juice or vinegar; Cooked vegan “crab” cakes: Crab cakes made from baked tofu or raw tofu. One of the most well-known vegan seafood alternatives is raw tofu. It’s perfect for salads or stir-fries, but this vegan crab cake is also easy to make at home.
The 7 Best Vegan Seafood Brands
Here are some of the best vegan seafood brands on the market right now. The bottom line: choose products that are similar to the seafood you're already familiar with.
- Pure Earth (Pure Earth Market): The word pure is not just synonymous with purity, but also sustainability. The Pure Earth brand is committed to the health of the planet. The brand prides itself on being entirely vegan, without the use of fish in the packaging or the water in the company’s non-carbon neutral, biodegradable, PVC-free water bottles.
- TreeHouse Foods: TreeHouse Foods is a food processor specializing in plant-based foods. From black beans and chickpeas to sauerkraut and dulse, this plant-based foods producer has your plant-based products covered. We’re fans of its chik’n strips and Isoko Soba Noodle products.
- Morningstar Farms: Another popular brand, Morningstar Farms is popular for being plant-based, but also vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.
- Kaya Foods: Perfectly Boneless Tofu Snapper – U.S. Kaya Foods, founded in 2012, is an organic, fair-trade, vegan seafood company based in the United States. Their vegan tuna is produced in the same manner as conventional tuna and is ready in three different sizes to accommodate different budgets and appetites. While their Tofu Snapper is suitable for vegetarians, it also works well as a recipe for vegan sushi, pasta, or patties. It’s all totally customizable. Choose the fish, pick your desired flavour, and top it with a choice of options including lemon zest, rice wine vinegar, cucumber, jalapeño, and chilli-garlic sauce.
- SeaGreenZoots: Lucille Balls – US SeaGreenZoots is a plant-based fish substitute made from sweet potato and green peas, and best served raw.
- Tofurky, the original vegan meat substitute brand, is just one of several vegan seafood brands, including True Drinks, Kite Hill, and Ocean Hugger Foods.
- Petunia's Choice First off, your first and best choice are Petunia's Choice. These humanely raised, antibiotic-free, and GMO-free vegan shrimp and crab are naturally pink because they're made from dulse (a seaweed). This makes them better for everyone. Many animals are dark pink because of marinades, whereas Petunia's Choice shrimp and crab are far from risky in any way. Check out Petunia's website for more information on how they raise their seafood and what they mean by “humanely raised.” Shrimp and crab are available in three sizes and are perfect for tossing in a salad or slaw.
How To Cook Vegan Seafood
There is always an option to make your own seafood and it’s not something difficult to achieve. It’s time to say goodbye to that sad little tuna sandwich you’ve been living off of since you were in kindergarten. Vegan fish fingers are now a viable option! Making vegan seafood recipes isn’t complicated, nor is the prep. All you need are:
Green smoothies — You need to start the day off with a little wholesome green goodness in order to keep your head clear for easy meat-free recipes. – You need to start the day off with a little wholesome green goodness in order to keep your head clear for easy meat-free recipes.
One thing to note is that seafood is generally best when prepared properly. If you’re unfamiliar with it or want to learn a few tips, here are some easy options to get you started. First, make sure the seafood is fresh. If it’s stored at room temperature for too long, it’ll go bad and taste different from the natural product.
If it’s been exposed to the air for a long time, you should throw it out. More than anything, it’s best to read all the way through the recipe to make sure you’re getting the same nutrients you’re getting with the regular version.
Benefits Of Vegan Seafood
There are so many reasons to try vegan seafood, but here are a few of the big ones:
Nearly all seafood (and sometimes plants) are not technically meat products. That doesn’t mean you’re okay eating animal flesh. It does mean you don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying the delicious flavours and textures of one of your favourite foods.
Pescatarians, which includes vegetarians who eat fish but limit it to one or two servings per week, have a great list of reasons to eat seafood. For example, many pescatarians are health-conscious and want to eat foods that are as good for them as they are for the planet. You can eat vegan seafood even if you have certain allergies.
Harmless to the environment. Unfortunately, one of the major reasons why we eat vegan seafood is that it’s not cruel to the environment. Rather than catching a whole animal, it’s best to have these plants as alternatives.
Consumers looking for seafood alternatives often find it hard to find products that are plant-based, vegan, and of high quality. Perhaps the biggest benefit of vegan seafood is that it avoids these potential pitfalls: Salmonella. One of the most common food-borne illnesses is salmonella.
This foodborne illness, which is most common in raw meat and eggs, can occur in the form of Shigella, E. coli, campylobacter, listeria, and many others. It is easily spread by meat products, raw eggs, and contaminated water. Research conducted at Monash University and University of New South Wales found that 89 percent of seafood samples sampled at Australian supermarkets contained bacterial contamination.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen an explosion in the availability of healthy, delicious, and sustainable plant-based alternatives to animal products, while providing consumers with more and more opportunities to find out more about how food gets to their plates. As technology and science continue to accelerate, we’re excited to see how plant-based seafood will continue to evolve and take shape as a source of healthful, affordable alternatives.
With the advancement in the design of sustainable seafood products, vegan options are becoming more and more mainstream, which makes finding replacements for animal products easier and more affordable. More options lead to more opportunities for a healthy lifestyle.
This lifestyle doesn’t only benefit the welfare of our own bodies but also for the betterment of our environment, especially in the animal world. Meatless eating is trending more and more every day, and vegan seafood is no exception. The best way to start is to compare all the options available and make your choice based on taste and price.
I trust you enjoyed reading the article about the 7 Best Vegan Seafood Brands. Please stay tuned. There are more blog posts to come very shortly.
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Ideas? Thoughts? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Would you please leave me your questions, experience, and remarks about the 7 Best Vegan Seafood Brands in the comments section below? You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@LivingTheVeganLifestyle.org.