Vegan alternatives to fish

I’ve found vegan alternatives to most types of meat. We’ve got seitan bacon, veggie burgers and dogs, ground round, chickenless nuggets, Tofurky, deli slices, and “ribs.”

Until recently, I didn’t know of a fish alternative. Sure, I’ve made delicious mock tuna salad, but prepackaged vegan fish? I came up empty-handed.

But then I found a brand called Sophie’s Kitchen at my local Whole Foods. Admittedly, I never was a big seafood (or as I prefer to call it, sealife) eater. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give a few of their products a try. I chose fish sticks, calamari, and crab cakes.

Sophie's Kitchen

Sophie’s Kitchen uses elephant yam root (also called konjac) as the primary ingredient in their products. It’s low-calorie and full of fiber.

I liked the crab cakes the best. They were full of flavor and worked well as one of the items on the dinner plate, along with vegetable fried rice and a little salad. I’ve never had real crab cakes, but my husband has, and he liked these just as much (if not better).

Next up, I tried the fish sticks. They had a mild fishy taste, and I think they made a fine fish stick substitute. They’re easy to prepare and are a fun finger food for kids. Plus, now I can make fish and chips! Trader Joe’s has great fries for the oven.

Finally, I sampled the calamari. I don’t know what calamari is supposed to taste like, and I realize that makes me a horrible reviewer. First impressions: I was surprised that these were “hearty” and a bit chewy. I expected something more like a thin onion ring that falls apart quickly. I liked the breaded coating a lot!

vegan calamari

I’m not sure I’d get the calamari again. I can’t really miss something I’ve never tried. That’s actually why I didn’t buy their shrimp or prawns. But for someone with a hankering for some shrimp, I’d recommend trying it–especially if you make dishes like stir-fries or jambalaya and miss the shrimp. I liked the other two products more, mainly because I can integrate them into my regular cooking.

Harvesting squid, shrimp and some types of cod from the oceans is done with trawling, a process that basically rakes up all life forms the sea floor, killing everything, and creating dead zones. For every one pound of shrimp eaten, 10 pounds of bycatch (species people weren’t trying to catch) are killed.

Farmed fish doesn’t have the bycatch issues but is usually raised in chemically treated water, treated with pesticides, and full of antibiotics. It takes two pounds of wild fish to feed one pound of farmed shrimp.

With that in mind, you can try Sophie’s Kitchen product with a clear conscience.

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