Can vegans eat fish?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can vegans eat fish?” and will discuss other alternatives of fish that vegans can eat.

Can vegans eat fish?

No, vegans cannot eat fish. Veganism is a way of life that excludes all animal products from one’s diet. To put it simply, veganism is a way of life that excludes all animal products to reduce animal abuse. Although veganism is becoming more popular, individuals who eat a plant-based diet don’t always adhere to the term “veganism.”

As an animal product, fish is off-limits to vegans, although many make allowances to create a balanced diet. While they no longer adhere to the strict rules of veganism at this point, they may still reap the advantages of a “vegan plus fish” diet as defined by themselves.

In a survey study about eating habits among vegetarians and pescatarians, approximately 41% of pescatarians admitted to not consider fish to be a type of meat and 78% of self-identified vegetarians mentioned to sometimes consume fish or seafood (1). 

Alternative fish products for vegans

Don’t worry if you’re a vegan. You can eat a variety of fish other than tuna:

·         Algae and mushrooms

These two components may be used to create a fish stock substitute made entirely of plants. Algae is a great fish replacement because of its salty, delicious taste. As an alternative to fish, use soy sauce and miso paste. Vegan caviar may be made from algae as well. Common fish alternatives are made with tofu and seitan (wheat gluten) to which soy sauce, miso paste or algae are added to provide the sea-like taste (2).

·         Alternatives made with tofu as a base

Vegans can’t live without tofu. To make it, soya beans are soaked, compressed, then combined with a coagulant. It has a taste that is bland and neutral, so it takes on the tastes of the other ingredients it is cooked with, including the sauce. Use vegan fish broth, crushed algae, and toasted breadcrumbs to make it a delicious meal. As an alternative to traditional fish fingers, this dish is delectable. 

Tofu contains a good amount of protein, calcium, and iron and is usually available in block form either unseasoned or mild-tasting gel form. Used in marinades, sauces, and other food dressings (3).

·         Seikan and Jackfruit

Gluten-based seitan, like tofu, is a neutral protein. It may be marinated and seasoned to taste. It’s perfect for making fish filets and burgers out of plant-based ingredients. Wheat gluten, also called seitan, is obtained during the isolation of starch from wheat flour and is used for its binding, dough-forming and leavening ability. Its cohesive and chewy quality gives the meat-like texture to the products prepared with wheat gluten (2).

While cooking it, jackfruit also takes on the taste of the other ingredients it is cooked with, and as such, it makes excellent fish substitutes. Jackfruit is rich in protein on a dry-weight basis and makes the savory dishes a good meat substitute, ultimately impacting human dietary habits (3).

·         Carrot marinated with spices

The manner you cook the carrots is critical to the outcome of this recipe. Cut them into thin strips and immerse them in an oil-vinegar-algae-liquid-smoke solution for a few hours. The carrot strips soak up all of the flavors and taste much like salmon once they’ve been cooked. In vegan and vegetarian recipes, mushrooms are sometimes used as substitutes for seafood, peeled and marinated tomatoes and carrots have been proposed as marinated tuna, and salmon, respectively. Although these are clever imitations that emulate sensory properties, they should be improved to achieve an adequate nutritional profile (2).

·         Tomatoes

Tomatoes may be made to taste like tuna by removing the skin, pitting, fileting, and marinating them in the appropriate seasonings. Tomato puree and tomato paste are also used in many vegan alternatives for meat and fish (3).

·         Sushi 

To create vegan sushi, combine cucumber, avo, and bell pepper.

Vegan food products are another option for protein.

Several excellent meat substitutes are available to increase your protein intake in every vegan meal if you wish to follow a diet free of animal products. Vegans consume a lot of tofu since it’s the most widely available plant-based protein. It has a wide range of uses, is loaded in protein, and is a good source of minerals. In addition to stir-frying and steaming or grilling, tofu also tastes great when it’s dipped in batter and deep-fried, like in this delectable tofu tempura.

Plant-based proteins are the most common ingredients used to prepare meat alternatives. Soy, wheat gluten and mushrooms are the main ingredients used. Soy is used for its high nutritional quality to prepare protein rich products, such as tofu, obtained from coagulating and pressing soy curds into a compact block. Soy flour is the least processed soy product and is used both in the preparation of soy texturized vegetable protein and soy protein concentrate (70% protein) and isolate (90% protein). Soy meat alternatives, such as texturized vegetable protein, are usually prepared by an extrusion process, which allows for different shapes and sizes of the product (2). Soybeans and other legumes such as lentils and black beans, like chickpeas, may be used in salads or baked to make vegetarian burgers. They are excellent sources of protein and fiber.

These high-protein, brain-protective-fat nuts and seeds include walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Eat them raw, or mix soaked cashews to create a tasty vegan cheese sauce. With its salty flavor and chewy texture, fermented tempeh is a great alternative to bacon, whole wheat-based seitan tastes and feels much like meat.

Ailments and Conditions

Foods like fish, which are high in mercury and PCBs, may be nutritious, but they should be consumed in moderation (polychlorinated biphenyls). PCBs, according to the EPA, may cause cancer in humans. Long-term exposure to these pollutants may inhibit hormonal action, alter the regulatory function of immune, nervous, and endocrine systems, impair brain development, and cause some forms of cancer (4).

Pregnant women who eat a lot of fish may give birth to infants who suffer birth abnormalities, according to research. In animal fat, PCBs, or polychlorobiphenyls,  accumulate and become more toxic as they go up the food chain (5).

 Fish is a popular protein choice due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in it. PCBs provide such a significant risk that it’s probably better to stay away from them. Even on a vegan diet, you can obtain enough omega-3 fatty acids.

An Alternative to Fish Oil and Seafood to Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fatty acids such as omega-3s are important for good health and are thus included in many people’s diets. Many people believe that the only way to obtain omega-3 fatty acids is to eat fish, although vegans may also get them from other sources.

I’d rather take a daily vitamin. There are many vegan products available, meaning no real fish was harmed in the production process. EPA and DHA are the accessible forms of omega-3 fatty acids that vegans cannot obtain from fish oil or seafood, so make sure it’s in your supplement.

The main ingredient in these supplements is algae. You can obtain omega-3 fatty acids from your diet, however, vegan foods lack bioavailability, making it more difficult to do so. Microalgae are sustainable sources of protein while others are sources of omega-3 and could contribute to the dietary intake of EPA and DHA. Microalgae are microscopic algae rich in protein, carbohydrates, lipids and other bioactive compounds. Microalgae-derived proteins have complete essential amino acids profiles and their protein content is higher than that of conventional sources, such as meat, poultry and dairy products. In addition, they are a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Therefore, microalgae and its derived compounds have been recently used as dietary supplements and sources (2).

Other FAQs about Vegans that you may be interested in.

Can you eat fish on a vegan diet?

d’vegan menu

Do vegans actually make a difference?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can vegans eat fish?” and discussed other alternatives of fish that vegans can eat.

References

  1. Rosenfeld, Daniel L., and A. Janet Tomiyama. How proximal are pescatarians to vegetarians? An investigation of dietary identity, motivation, and attitudes toward animals. J Health Psychol, 2021, 26, 713-727.
  2. Alcorta, Alexandra, et al. Foods for plant-based diets: Challenges and innovations. Foods, 2021, 10, 293.
  3. Singh, M., Trivedi, N., Enamala, M.K. et al. Plant-based meat analogue (PBMA) as a sustainable food: a concise review. Eur Food Res Technol, 2021, 247, 2499–2526.
  4. Rheinberger, Christoph M., and James K. Hammitt. Risk trade-offs in fish consumption: a public health perspective. Environ sci technol, 2012, 46, 12337-12346.
  5. Taylor CM, Emmett PM, Emond AM, Golding J. A review of guidance on fish consumption in pregnancy: is it fit for purpose?. Public Health Nutr. 2018, 21, 2149-2159.