Earth Day is as good a time as any to reflect on the ways in which we can incorporate more sustainable habits into our lives and consider what else we can do to help the planet. You probably already know about Meatless Mondays, plant-based burgers like Beyond Burger and the many plant-based milk options that are available. But what about seafood? Are there good plant-based food options our there? The answer is YES! In fact, there has never been a better time to try plant-based seafood including tuna, sushi, crab cakes, and much more.
But before we get to that, have you seen Seaspiracy on Netflix yet? It will definitely change how you think about the fish on your plate and the supposed “sustainability” of seafood. The film was made by the team behind the award-winning 2014 film Cowspiracy (backed by Leonardo DiCaprio), and has made Netflix’s Top 10 most watched list.
Something Smells Fishy (and Unsustainable)
Seaspiracy uncovers all kinds of corruption in the ocean world, including the violence of whaling for sport, dolphins being killed to fish for tuna, slave labor used in shrimping, and more. It’s a big wake up call for everyone who thinks that consuming a pescatarian diet is sustainable and that eating fish is better for the planet (never mind our little scaly friends). It’s anything but. The bottom line is that the fishing industry is not sustainable, and the only way to truly preserve ocean wildlife is to consume less or cut out seafood completely.
When you eat fish, it’s not only the fish that suffer and die. The fishing industry kills other sea life that might get in the way of catching the desired fish — this is called “bycatch”. In the U.S. alone, more than 300,000 whales and dolphins are killed each year as bycatch, 30,000 sharks are killed every hour, and 250,000 sea turtles are injured or killed (GreenMatters).
And if you’re someone who eschews plastic straws because of plastic pollution, here’s something else to consider: Most plastic pollution in the ocean is caused by fishers, not single-use plastic straws. According to National Geographic, 46% of plastic in the North Pacific ocean is discarded fishing nets, and most of the remainder is other fishing gear.
A Better Option: Plant-Based Seafood
So what can you do? Experiment with plant-based seafood, of course! According to market research by the Plant-Based Foods Association, the plant-based meat industry saw an 18% increase in sales last year and plant-based seafood producers expect the same popularity for fish-less products.
There are plenty of plant-based seafood replacements that taste just as good and have the same vital nutrients you get from seafood. These vegan seafood options are typically made with ingredients like seaweed, soy, yeast, legumes and various vegetable oils and starches. But you wouldn’t know it by their taste, which can be remarkably similar to what comes from the ocean.
Some innovative brands include:
- Good Catch – Known for their delicious vegan tuna, plant-based fishcakes, and more, the company is currently soaring after scoring a $26 million investment.
- Ocean Hugger Foods – This company is changing everything you know about sushi with tomato-based “raw tuna” and more.
- All Vegetarian Shrimp — Since 1994, All Vegetarian has created high-quality vegan products with a mission to encourage a healthy, meat-free lifestyle. You can find them at VEDGEco (a Grassfed Media client).
- New Wave Foods – You won’t miss the distinct chew of shrimp with this algae-based shrimp substitute.
- Gardein – A vegan veteran known for plant-based meats and nuggets, they also have fried fish and crab cakes in the freezer aisle of your local grocery store.
For more examples, check out the 10 Vegan Seafood Options for After You Watch ‘Seaspiracy’ from VegNews. Next time you’re craving a tuna sandwich, give Good Catch or one of the other tuna alternatives a try. Piled high on crusty, chewy bread with tomatoes, lettuce and vegan mayo, we bet you won’t miss poor old Charlie the Tuna.