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What is Vegetarian Seafood?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 17, 2024
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Vegetarian seafood includes a range of foods designed to imitate different types of fish and other sea creatures using vegetarian ingredients. Vegetarian seafood is often made up of similar ingredients as those that are used in making other imitation meats. These imitation foods are useful in creating appealing vegetarian snacks, or even a whole vegetarian dinner for individuals with special dietary needs. Vegetarians might look for these products to use in modified vegetarian seafood recipes that originally included different types of seafood.

A wide variety of vegetarian seafood is currently on the market. Vegetarian crabmeat is often made of a mix of soy proteins and different types of seaweed or other greens. Vegetarian shrimp may be made of similar materials, but formed into the shape of a shrimp, and given attractive coloring to make them resemble shrimp or prawns.

Vegetarian shoppers can also buy vegetarian fish products made to look like actual fish products. Although some companies sell imitation tuna, vegetarian fish is generally harder to come by because the demand for it is relatively low. Other companies catering to vegetarians offer “vegetarian seafood bits” that will mimic the taste of clams. These are useful for chowders and other seafood dishes.

Many vegetarian seafood products can be bought frozen; some others are canned. Some of these can be found in local supermarkets. Others may be easier to find at specialized Asian food markets, or health food stores.

The rise of vegetarian cuisine shows that many around the world are trying to limit their meat intake as new science shows more and more support for the link between vegetarian diet and overall health and longevity. Fish and seafood are generally not the first meats eliminated from a diet. Usually, those who want to “eat lighter” in terms of meat cut out red meats, and may still eat fish or seafood. These individuals are sometimes called “pescetarians.”

Other food science shows that actual fish contains some unique healthy ingredients for boosting brain power and helping to balance cholesterol. Despite this, some with seafood allergies stay away from eating actual seafood, and may prefer vegetarian seafood options if they crave the taste. Another reason that some people eat vegetarian seafood is if they had been exposed to mercury poisoning. Since a lot of seafood is exposed to a high mercury content, much of the residual mercury may end up in the human body, where it is hazardous. Doctors often recommend limiting intake of certain kinds of seafood to avoid mercury poisoning.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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