Fish alternatives: 10 vegan substitutes to fish, caviar, and other seafood
August 23, 2023
Every year, billions of fish are killed in order to become food for humans. In addition to the serious ecological consequences, fish consumption also poses various health risks. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of healthy plant-based fish alternatives which not only taste good but also benefit the environment. Here are our top 10 alternatives to fish and seafood.
Algae – the taste of the ocean
Reminiscent of the smell of the sea, the typical savoury and salty flavour of algae can add a special touch to a meal, making it a good fish substitute. Whether seaweed, nori, or wakame, algae makes fish superfluous – in soups, salads, and rice dishes. Plant-based fish fingers and burgers also benefit from algae’s marine flavour. Not only does it appeal to our taste buds, algae also offers added health benefits, including valuable minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Due to its high iodine content, algae should be consumed in moderation (iodine content, as well as the maximum daily allowance, are usually indicated on the packaging). Algae is available at organic markets, health food stores, and certain supermarkets. Asian stores often feature a particularly wide selection.
Algae and seaweed (which is actually a kind of algae) have long been key components of many regional coastal diets, particularly in Asia. In recent years, sushi, seaweed, and algae have become popular and increasingly mainstream food items. ProVeg presents a selection of the different types of algae, along with their health benefits.
1. Vegan fish stock and fish sauce made from algae and mushrooms
A plant-based alternative to fish stock can be prepared from dried mushrooms and algae, while soya sauce, miso paste, algae, and other finely balanced ingredients make for a delicious vegan fish sauce. These two recipes can be used as the basis for Asian soups and marinades, for example. Try our recipe for vegan fish stock or plant-based fish sauce!
2. Tasty, tofu-based alternative to fish fingers and fish fillets
Tofu is made from soaked soya beans, which are ground, cooked, and mixed with a coagulant. After the soya milk has coagulated and clotted, the resulting soya mass is pressed into blocks of tofu, with 100 grams of tofu providing around 12 grams of protein. Due to its relatively neutral taste, solid tofu is particularly good at absorbing spices and marinades such as vegan fish broth. Coupled with ground algae and crispy breading, tofu can be transformed into a delicious alternative to fish fingers and can also be used to make animal-free fish burgers or fillets. Grocery stores have long been offering numerous variations of tofu, which means that it’s easy to make plant-based fish fingers at home.
3. Vegan fish fillets and fish cakes – featuring seitan and jackfruit
By replacing fish with seitan, you not only help the overfished seas, but also yourself, since substituting fish with plant-based alternatives means sidestepping dioxins, microplastics, and other harmful pollutants. Seitan consists of gluten, which can be harvested from wheat, spelt, and other cereals. Like tofu, seitan is quite neutral in taste and can be seasoned and marinated in various ways – using vegan fish broth, for example. Seitan is a good basis for plant-based fish fillets and fish burgers.
Due to its fibrous consistency, jackfruit is another ideal fish alternative. Depending on the seasoning, it can be used to prepare vegan fish cakes or fish fillets. Making delicious vegan fish burgers is super easy – just try this recipe for vegan fish cakes made from jackfruit.
Both seitan powder and jackfruit can be bought at Asian stores, organic markets, and health food shops. Some mainstream supermarkets have also started selling seitan.
4. Tasty salmon alternative: marinated carrots
At first glance, carrots might seem to have little in common with fish, but, as always, preparation is key. If carrots are cut into thin strips and soaked for several hours in a mixture of oil, vinegar, algae, and liquid smoke, they absorb the marinade and come to strongly resemble salmon in both taste and consistency. Try this nifty recipe for vitamin-A-rich carrot salmon.
5. Plant-based tuna alternative made from tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and various B vitamins. When tomatoes are skinned, pitted, filleted, and marinated in the right spices, they take on the qualities of tuna in both taste and look. Tomato tuna can enhance sushi, sandwiches, salads, and many other dishes. Soya slices can also be used as a basis for vegan tuna. Discover the ideal lunch-time snack: vegan tuna sandwiches!
6. Depleted fish stocks? Try vegan sushi
Vegan sushi can be made very easily with delicious vegetable fillings. Cucumber, avocado, and bell pepper are all popular choices, while algae leaves provide the typical sushi taste. If you’d like to make these sushi alternatives at home, you can begin with our recipes above for carrot-based salmon and tomato tuna.
7. Vegan caviar – completely animal-free
Caviar (fish eggs) is not vegan. However, a tasty alternative to caviar can be made with algae. Like the conventional version, it is suitable for decorating other food and festive buffets. Vegan caviar is also starting to appear in restaurants, as it is much cheaper than its animal-based counterpart. You can buy plant-based caviar from vegan supermarkets and online shops.
8. Vegan alternatives to calamari
Plant-based squid dishes are made with a base of curdlan gel and glucomannan. Curdlan is a carbohydrate formed by bacteria, while glucomannan, which is extracted from the roots of the konjac plant, is a starch-like substance used as a thickening agent. Like the original, this vegan fish substitute goes very well with Mediterranean rice and pasta dishes. Breaded and fried, plant-based calamari is perfect for rounding off a finger-food buffet and is available in online shops and vegan supermarkets.
9. Vegan king prawns and scampi are widely available online
Prawns are often used in paellas or other Mediterranean dishes, while scampi goes well with fried veggies or the classic spaghetti dish with garlic scampi sauce. The vegan equivalent of these seafood dishes are made primarily from yam root. Plant-based scampi and king prawns can be found in online shops and vegan grocery stores.
10. Vegan alternative to herring salad
Beetroots, fried aubergine, apples, nori, and gherkins give veggie herring salad an exquisite flavour, while soya yoghurt provides the creamy consistency. You can eat this salad on a slice of bread or by itself. Using this recipe, you’ll never miss herring again!
ProVeg supports the increasing availability of vegan fish alternatives
More and more consumers are questioning the consumption of fish and the impact of our diet on animals, the environment, and our health. This is reflected in the growing demand for fish-free alternatives. As well as highlighting healthy products, ProVeg also helps to make them more accessible to the general public. We support and advise innovative companies that want to enrich the plant-based sector with their products.