What is Vegan Fish?

Allison Boelcke

A vegan diet refers to a way of eating in which a person not only does not consume any meat, but also does not eat any item that is derived from an animal in any way. Food items that are not permitted on a vegan diet include eggs, milk, meat, poultry, and fish. People who enjoy the taste of fish but want to follow a strict vegan diet may choose to eat a vegan alternative to fish instead. Vegan fish is a substitute for fish that resembles the taste, appearance, and texture of actual fish but without the use of any animal products.

Tofu is a popular meat substitute among vegans.
Tofu is a popular meat substitute among vegans.

Asian cuisine is often the most common type of cuisine that regularly incorporates vegan fish into its dishes. Commercially prepared vegan fish usually consists of wheat protein processed with a liquid and thickened with a natural starchy thickener, such as ground whole grains or chopped edible seaweed. The mixture may then be combined with flavoring agents, such as salt, soy sauce, or mirin, a wine made from rice. It can then be formed into shapes that are similar to the size and appearance of fish fillets.

Vegan fish allows vegans to enjoy the taste of fish without harming animals.
Vegan fish allows vegans to enjoy the taste of fish without harming animals.

Vegan fish can also be prepared by home chefs instead of being bought commercially. Homemade versions of the dish may use tofu as its texture base before adding flavoring agents. Tofu is a product made from soy beans that are blended with liquid to form a pliable mass, which is then formed into blocks or sheets. On its own, tofu does not have much of a distinctive flavor, but to make it taste for fish-like, home cooks can add kelp granules to the tofu. Kelp granules are small dried pieces of edible seaweed and can impart a saltwater taste that may remind vegans of fish.

Vegans do not eat any animal byproducts, including milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
Vegans do not eat any animal byproducts, including milk, cheese, and other dairy products.

To further make vegan fish mimic the taste of real fish, it is generally served with condiments and sauces that are present in fish dishes. Japanese fish dishes are often served with a sweet sauce that consists of vegetable broth, soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. Other common condiments that may be served with the dish include freshly squeezed lemon juice, fruit or vegetable-based salsas, or vegan versions of dairy products, such as vegan tartar sauce or sour cream, which are often made with processed tofu.

Vegan fish is often served with a sauce that's made from fermented soy.
Vegan fish is often served with a sauce that's made from fermented soy.

Vegan fish can typically be prepared in the same manner as regular fish. It can usually be substituted in most fish-based recipes without any major issues. The product can withstand most cooking methods, including frying, steaming, broiling, baking, or microwaving.

Making a vegetable-based salsa can help vegan fish mimic the taste of real fish.
Making a vegetable-based salsa can help vegan fish mimic the taste of real fish.

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