Do Vegans Eat Fish? All You Wanted To Know

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A plate full of fish and salmon placed on the table with lots of various vgean items like tofu, avocado, broccoli and more

Do Vegans Eat Fish | seafood nutrient supplementation | vegan alternatives

There is some debate within the vegan community about whether or not fish and other seafood varieties should be included in a vegan diet. This is because fish are often considered to be lower on the food chain and, therefore, less sentient than mammals or birds. 

And yet, commercial fishing practices are often cruel and environmentally damaging. Thus, some vegans feel that eating fish is incompatible with their ethical beliefs.

Here we try to answer the question whether vegans can eat fish or not.

vegans don’t eat fish

Veganism is a lifestyle that seeks to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, or any other purpose. For many people, this means abstaining from all animal products, [1]University of Pennsylvania: More Than Just A Diet: An Inquiry Into Veganism including dairy, eggs, and honey. 

Nevertheless, let us analyze the arguments both for and against consuming seafood as a vegan.

The arguments for eating seafood as a vegan

A small section of vegans argue that it is acceptable to eat seafood on a vegan diet. This is based on the belief that fish are less sentient or less capable of feeling pain than mammals or birds. 

Some studies [2]ScienceDaily: Do fish feel pain? Not as humans do, study suggests do suggest that fish do not experience pain the same way as humans do. As a result, some vegans believe that it is morally acceptable to eat seafood but not other animal products.

The arguments against eating seafood as a vegan

Alternatively, some argue that sea animals also exhibit signs of sentience. Neurobiologists have observed that fish have nervous systems and are capable of experiencing pain [3]National Library of Medicine: Evolution of nociception and pain: evidence from fish models. Therefore, it goes against the core ethics of veganism to  consume seafood.

Furthermore, commercial fishing practices are often very cruel and environmentally damaging. As a result, some environmentalists argue that the best way to protect fish populations is to stop eating them altogether.

How to supplement seafood nutrients on a vegan diet?

Despite the many debates about eating fish on a vegan diet, it is clear that the consumption of fish goes against the core principles of veganism. But seafood is a rich source of nutrients. How does a vegan make up for the loss of seafood-based nutrients?

While it may seem counterintuitive, there are a number of plant-based foods that can provide all the same nutrients as fish and other seafood. Here’s a look at some of the best vegan-friendly foods for getting these essential nutrients.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are often lauded for their cardiovascular benefits [4]The Lancet: Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. They’re also important for brain health and development. 

Thankfully, there are a number of plant-based sources of omega-3s. These include flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and certified vegan omega-3 supplements.

Iodine

Iodine is a trace mineral that’s important for thyroid function. It has also been known to cancer-preventing (anticarcinogenic) [5]Natural Medicine Journal: Iodine and Cancer properties. The body does not produce iodine on its own, so it’s important to get it from dietary sources.

Good vegan sources of iodine include seaweed (such as kelp) and iodized salt. You can also find iodine in some vegan vitamins and minerals supplements.

Tasty and healthy vegan alternatives to fish

Seafood is often delicious and packed with protein and healthy fats, making it a difficult food category to give up. Thankfully, there are plenty of healthy and tasty vegan alternatives to fish that will allow you to stick to your diet without feeling deprived.

We have listed common seafood items and their alternatives below:

1. Salmon

Salmon is a popular type of fish that is often consumed for its nutritional value. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health. 

Vegan alternatives to salmon include marinated carrots, tofu, and seitan. These plant-based protein sources can be cooked in a variety of ways and provide the same heart-healthy benefits as salmon. Kelp powder can be used to add a seafood flavor to any dish.

2. Shrimp

Shrimp is another popular seafood item that is often used in stir-fries, pasta dishes, and salads. While shrimp are low in calories, they are high in cholesterol. 

Vegan shrimp substitutes include tofu, mushrooms, konjac, and seitan. These alternatives provide the same texture and flavor as shrimp while being lower in cholesterol and calories.

3. Lobster

Lobster is a luxurious seafood item that is often served steamed or boiled. While lobster is a good source of protein, it is also high in cholesterol and sodium. 

Vegan lobster substitutes include jackfruit, hearts of palm, yam flour, artichokes, and oyster mushrooms. Jackfruit has a similar texture to lobster meat when it is cooked properly. Artichokes and oyster mushrooms also have a similar texture and taste to lobster meat when they are seasoned properly.

4. Crab Meat

Crabmeat is a popular ingredient in crab cakes, sushi rolls, and pasta dishes. Crabmeat is low in calories but high in sodium and cholesterol. 

Vegan crabmeat substitutes include hearts of palm, portobello mushrooms, and kelp powder. Hearts of palm have a similar texture to crabmeat when they are shredded or chopped into small pieces. Portobello mushrooms also have a similar texture to crabmeat when they are cooked properly. 

5. Oyster

Oysters and other shellfish are rich in zinc, which is important for a healthy immune system. Oysters are also a good source of iron and protein. 

Vegan oyster substitutes include mushrooms, tofu, and artichokes. Mushrooms have a similar texture to oysters when they are cooked properly. Tofu and artichokes also have a similar texture and taste to oysters when they are seasoned properly.

6. Clams

Clams are often used in chowders, soups, and pasta dishes. They are a good source of protein and iron. 

Vegan clam substitutes include mushrooms, tofu, and artichokes. Most mushrooms have a similar texture to clams when they are cooked properly. Tofu and artichokes can mimic the texture and taste of clams when seasoned properly.

7. Scallops

Scallops are a type of shellfish that is often used in recipes for risotto, pasta, and sushi. Scallops are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Vegan scallop substitutes include mushrooms, tofu, and artichokes. Tofu and artichokes also have a similar texture and taste to scallops when they are seasoned properly.

8. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a popular ingredient in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Fish sauce is made from fermented fish. This condiment is usually high in sodium. 

Vegan fish sauce substitutes include soy sauce, tamari, and miso paste. Again, the flavors supplied by the addition of kelp powder might come in handy for anyone trying to make vegan fish sauce. Use these substitutes to add rich umami flavor to your dishes.

9. Caviar

Caviar is a type of seafood that is often considered a delicacy. It is made from fish eggs and is high in cholesterol and sodium. Just 100 gms of caviar contains [6]U.S. Department of Agriculture: Fish, caviar, black and red, granular 1500 mg of sodium and 588 mg of cholesterol.

Vegan caviar substitutes include eggplant caviar, tofu caviar, and seaweed caviar. Other vegan caviar options include tonburi, chia seeds, and agar-agar-based caviar. These options are not only vegan-friendly but also extremely healthy. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to eat seafood as a vegan is a personal one. After all, there are arguments to support both sides of the issue. 

If you are considering following a vegan diet, do some research to find out which version suits you and what foods you can eat while following it. Your beliefs, opinions, and your nutritional requirements are your best guides here.

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