We’re starting to learn why animal agriculture is unsustainable, and as a result, the marketplace is embracing plant-based meat alternatives. But seafood? Don’t the oceans have plenty to spare? It turns out that the fish and seafood industry is causing a lot of harm, which is why entrepreneurs are creating plant-based seafood alternatives that are almost too good to be true.
Industrial fisheries use large commercial machinery to sift through the ocean floor causing numerous sea animals, including whales, dolphins, turtles, and many more to get trapped and killed in nets – known as ‘bycatch’. As a result of aquaculture, the factory farming of fish, a host of health and environmental hazards have occured in the earth’s oceans.
This is only part of the problem. According to a report by Nature Communications in 2016, overfishing has become extremely catastrophic to the ocean’s wildlife. The report found that more fish have been caught globally between 1950 and 2010, leading to a sharp decline in the number of fish in the sea.
Slave labor, which is particularly common in the shrimp industry, poses a great deal of ethical problems in addition to animal cruelty. Yes, even sea creatures can fall victim to animal cruelty. According to scientific evidence, fish and crustaceans are sentient and feel both physical and emotional pain.
Thankfully, brands are stepping up to end animal cruelty amongst sea creatures by creating plant-based alternatives to popular seafood items, such as squid, shrimp, and more. Here are some plant-based seafood brands that you can find in your local supermarket if you are in the mood for a delicious seafood dinner minus the cruelty!
Gardein has officially changed the game, not only when it comes to vegan meats, but now vegan fish. If you’re seeking a fish filet substitute that looks and tastes exactly like the real thing, try Gardein’s Golden Fishless Filet.
According to Cadry from Cadry’s Kitchen, the fishless filets “aren’t too fishy in taste, and the batter has a terrific flavor.” They can be baked or fried and are ready in as little as ten minutes. When paired with a side of tartar sauce, this is sure to fool omnivores after their first bite. This product even contains DHA and EPA just like real fish! Here are a few Golden Fishless Filet recipes by Gardein.
You can find their fishless filets in the frozen or refrigerated section of your local health store or supermarket. Click here to find a store that sells Gardein products near you.
New Wave Foods
In the fall of 2015, Dominique Barnes and Michelle Wolf co-founded New Wave Foods and have been working in the Bay Area to perfect their first product – algae and plant-based shrimp. The company launched its vegan shrimp in July 2018 in restaurants throughout New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Long Island, and Connecticut.
The plant-based shrimp is made from plant proteins as well as the same algae that shrimp eat, which gives crustaceans their color and flavor. After many trials and errors, Barnes and Wolf were about to come up with a shrimp substitute that has a similar taste, color, and even nutritional value as real shrimp! According to Ariel Schwartz, a Tech Insider from Business Insider, the “lab-made shrimp had that springiness and mixture of crunch and chew that you’d expect from the real thing.”
Next year, the company plans on launching their product in retail stores, but for now, they are only available in restaurants. A list of locations that sell New Wave Food’s vegan shrimp can be found here. Be on the lookout this year for Gardein’s release of more vegan seafood products such as plant-based crab meats, lobster, tuna, salmon, and more.
Ocean Hugger Foods
Created by Certified Master Chef James Corwell, Ocean Hugger Foods offers healthy, sustainable, and mouth watering plant-based alternatives to popular seafood dishes for sushi.
The brand currently offers a few fish alternatives such as Ahimi, a plant-based raw Ahi minus the tuna. Their mouthwatering Ahimi is made from Roma tomatoes, soy sauce, water, sugar, and sesame oil that is sure to make “picky eaters, vegetarians and vegans rejoice,” according to the Huffington Post. Katherine Baker from Spoon University describes the taste as “very neutral, with subtle sweet, savory, and umami notes” with a texture that’s “soft, yet hearty and meaty mouthfeel with a bite.”
In November 2017, Ocean Hugger Foods launched their products with their first customer — Whole Foods. As of now, they are currently in the works of creating Sakimi ‘salmon’ made with carrots and Unami ‘eel’ made of eggplants. You can find their product in Whole Foods and various restaurants near you here.
In the spring of 2015, Brooklyn native Zach Grossman created Tofuna Fysh, a vegan alternative to tuna fish. In the beginning, he financed his business through a KickStarter account. Since then, the brand’s popularity has increased and products are now being sold in several Oregon retail outlets as well as in the new Brooklyn Farmers Market.
Tofuna Fysh currently sells two products: veggie salad and Fysh Sauce. Their veggie salad, which is made from jackfruit and seaweed, comes in three flavors: classic, spicy ceviche, and chickpea and dill. Grossman says, “speckles of orange, purple, and green vegetables give the product a distinctive confetti-like appearance” and “contends that the sweet and savory” taste makes this product a delightful seafood alternative. It’s an excellent source of protein and is perfect for sandwiches tacos, sushi, and more.
Tofuna Fysh also offers fish-less Fysh oil capsules for those looking for a vegan friendly source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Their website offers a variety of recipes along with information on locations that acquire Tofuna Fysh products.
Loma Linda Foods
Founded in 1905, Loma Linda Foods is presently an active brand of vegetarian and vegan food products produced by Atlantic Natural Foods Company of Nashville, Carolina.
In addition to a wide selection of plant-based meat products, the brand has also started to dabble in the creation of plant-based seafood alternatives. As of now, their new seafood alternative line offers three flavors (lemon pepper, sesame ginger, sriracha, and Thai sweet chili) of TUNO, a plant-based tuna alternative made with soy, yeast, and sunflower oil that is said to taste like the real thing. Julie Nealon from Raise Vegan agrees with the company as she says the product has a “light, flaky texture of seafood and is packed with nutritious omega 3s.”
Sophie’s Kitchen is a U.S. based company that creates gourmet, vegan seafood with the mission to “make plant-based seafood accessible and delicious to everyone,” according to the company’s website.
Sophie’s Kitchen has an extremely wide and diverse selection of vegan seafood alternatives such as crab cakes, fish fillets, shrimp, scallops, salmon, seafood jambalaya, and more. Those at The Celiathlete claim that the “taste is sometimes even better” than regular seafood and the “texture is spot on.”
The brand’s website says that lobster mac n cheese, glazed salmon bacon, and smoked salmon pastrami will be coming out soon, so be on the lookout. Click here to find a location that carries products by Sophie’s Kitchen near you.
Good Catch is a Pennsylvania-based company founded in 2016 by Chris Kerr and Eric Schnell. Inspired by their love for the sea and its creatures, the brand’s goal is to “make plant-based foods for everyone, from vegan to omnivore and everything in between.”
The brand creates a variety of plant-based tuna that come in exciting flavors such as original, Mediterranean, and oil and herbs. Vegan chef Sarno told Forbes that “Good Catch’s founders spent the first year focusing on recreating the texture of tuna using plant-based proteins and ingredients” to be sure that the product was just right. The brand is still working on new products intended to be released this year. Be on the lookout in the Fall for the brand’s new products, such as crab cakes and other frozen entrees and appetizers.
Here you can search for a Thrive Market, Whole Foods, and FreshDirect that sells Good Catch products near you.
Skyler Isabella Gomez is a 2019 SUNY New Paltz graduate with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Black Studies. Her passions include learning about the ethical and environmental benefits of veganism to create a better world for generations to come.