I don’t like meat. Specifically red meat. And on my plant based journey I started cutting out red meat, then slowly cut out poultry and white meats, and the last meat that I ever ended up eating was fish.
Fish is something that I enjoyed. It was a great summer food. It had great textures. You can easily put it in tacos (my favorite food). And after becoming vegetarian, I often thought that fish would be one of the first things I would eat if I weren’t vegan anymore.
But after learning about the dangers of overfishing seas, I quickly retracted that statement. I don’t necessarily think that fishing is bad, and if I found myself fishing on a camping trip, I would be more than open to eating the fish we caught (given that we actually catch one, of course!).
However, I still like to indulge on some fish substitutes while living in the city. Let’s check out my top favorites:
Gardein Fishless Filets
Sustainability: Packaged in resealable plastic bag
These are my vegan guilty pleasure. They are breaded, and so when you fry them in a pan, they are crispy and delicious.
The texture is very similar to fish sticks, and the breading almost feels like a beer-batter. I wouldn’t expect them to be like a fish steak, but somehow, they have a slight fishy taste, which makes it a real contender for fish stick substitutes.
These fishless filets are perfect for fish tacos, or just dipping them in homemade tar tar sauce, with some “chips” on the side.
Beleaf Vegan Shrimp
Sustainability: Packaged in vacuum-sealed plastic in a cardboard box
Substitute: Konjac powder, vegetable gum, vegetable root starch
I developed an allergy to shrimp and shellfish at a young age. I never got a definitive diagnosis, but I experimented in college with shrimp, and I still was having an allergic reaction. I have maybe eaten a half a single shrimp since age 10. So while I may not be the shrimp expert, this was a delicious splurge.
It was almost twice as expensive as the Gardein fishless filets, and it was definitely higher quality. Instead of being just a quick fish stick, this brand creates a realistic and high standard for the seafood substitutes. I believe that it didn’t taste as fishy as actual shrimp, but it nailed the texture of the shellfish. My omni roommate even commended the taste and texture.
I easily fried them up in a pan with some taco seasonings to create a shrimp taco, and it was absolutely delicious. I liked that they were just plain and simple seasoning-wise, so I could use them as a base, and then season them however I wanted.
I don’t think I would want to eat them by themselves, but they are great in tacos, and I think they’d add a flavorful ingredient to a creamy pasta.
Sustainability: zero-waste with bulk produce
Substitute: Fresh eggplant
Earlier this year, #nacforadventure partnered with Saving Oceans in Salt Lake to make some fishless fish tacos. It made me realize that sometimes substitutes don’t have to be an exact replica. Sometimes, it’s okay to just use something else, and then rely on the other ingredients to create the feeling of the real deal.
That’s where this eggplant substitute came in. Chopped eggplant has a white flesh, so it’s easy to season like fish tacos, and it gives off the appearance of fish tacos. Adding the fresh pico or mango salsa or the purple cabbage can make you think you’re eating fish tacos, when in reality, there’s no fish at all.
Plus, ending on a sustainable note…. eggplant is the best zero-waste option, as the other options mentioned above are covered in plastic. They are good options every so often, but after going vegan and focusing on sustainable eating, eggplant or other fresh veggies are my go-to ingredients.
What plant-based fish substitutes do you love?
You fulfillment plant eater, and fishless filet lover,