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Opinion 8 facts about marine animals that will make you a vegan seafood enthusiast

Liv's author bio image

Author: Liv Published: November 22, 2023

Research continues to reveal the hidden depths of sea animals and the rich inner lives they’re hiding just beneath the surface. Imagine if we could still enjoy all the same seafood flavours we love – without any of the fishy business that harms these incredible animals … Luckily, we can! 💙🐟

These days, it’s all too easy to pack your fridge with delicious, plant-based versions of all the seafood classics. There are countless vegan recipes and store-bought substitutes available to help you recreate everything from crispy crab cakes to smoked salmon and shrimp – even lobster rolls and calamari.

Scroll for some amazing trivia gems that might even inspire you to leave sea animals in the sea and try some ocean-friendly alternatives instead.

1. Salmon have incredible memories

Many marine animals have amazing long-term memories, but salmon are particularly impressive. Even after several years of navigating complex ocean currents, they’re able to remember the exact smell of the stream where they were born – and follow their noses all the way home! 

And to think, we can’t even remember why we walked into the kitchen …

Plant-based salmon alternatives:

Oh yeah, that’s why 😉 There are several amazing vegan salmon products to choose from in online specialty stores – including Vish salmon sashimi, UpRoot Food smoked not salmon, and Zeastar vegan salmon sashimi

Or, with a few nifty culinary hacks, you can whip up delectable plant-based salmon out of easy-to-find ingredients like tomatoes, tofu, and carrots. The magic is in the marinade  

Get your fillet fill of these incredible vegan salmon recipes:  

2. Tuna are intrepid explorers

Studies have shown that tuna have amazing navigational abilities – they travel across entire oceans in their lifetime, crossing from one side of the world to the other! Tuna, with their remarkable internal compasses, are probably better travelled than any of us, and yet ‘the ocean’ no doubt still tops their list of places they’d like to stay 📍

Thankfully, there are several ways we can help take ‘dinner table’ off their itinerary.

Plant-based tuna alternatives: 

Plant-based meats are so mainstream that you can even find vegan tuna at Coles these days! Look in the refrigerated vegetarian section for Future Farm tvna – it’s incredibly close to the real thing in terms of flavour and texture, so best seasoned the same way. We recommend adding fresh herbs, capers, and a dollop of vegan mayo.

You can also shop online for products like Vish tuna-free sashimi, Zeastar vegan no-tuna sashimi, or Lamyong vegan whole fish. We can also recommend Lamyong spicy chilli vegan tuna if you like a bit of heat.

And if you’re keen to make your own plant-based tuna from scratch, there are tonnes of recipes online to help you do exactly that. The best ones use fibre-packed ingredients like chickpeas and jackfruit – so they’re healthy as well as delicious. 

Scale up your plant-based tuna game with these mouthwatering recipes: 

3. Lobsters are one of the longest-living species on Earth

These tough-shelled animals are hardy in more ways than one. They’re known for their longevity, with some lobsters living for more than a century 🥳 … In the wild, at least. Sadly, the typical lobster killed for food is only around 5-10 years old, a mere fraction of their natural lifespan. 

Keen to help lobsters live the long and snap-happy lives they deserve? We’ve got solutions for that … 

Plant-based lobster alternatives

Why stick with lobster when you can get Lamyong vegan lobster sticks online instead? They’re super satisfying and ready to use in any of your favourite seafood dishes.

You can also easily make your own faux lobster meat at home! Most recipes use king oyster mushrooms or hearts of palm to recreate that decadent, tender texture, but there are heaps of other ideas online too. 

To get you started, here are our top favourite plant-based lobster recipes:

4. Crabs are chatty and communicative

Many species of crabs interact with each other socially by using a combination of visual, chemical, and auditory cues. Some crabs even have specialised ridges on their claws and arms, and use the same leg-rubbing techniques that insects use to communicate!

We bet they’d make some noise for these crab-friendly options …

Plant-based crab alternatives:

When it comes to replicating crab-based recipes, there are plenty of options. You can buy Lamyong vegan crab meat online and use it as a direct swap, or get creative with ingredients like artichokes, chickpeas, tofu, and hearts of palm. 

These plant-based foods have the advantage of being more accessible and affordable than actual crab meat, and make pretty convincing substitutes.

Try these simple vegan crab recipes – guaranteed to have everyone scuttling back for seconds:

A serving plate of pan-fried vegan crab cakes on a bed of spinach served with lemon wedges.

5. Octopuses & squid are playful and intelligent

Octopuses love to interact with toys and play tug of war with sticks … Sound familiar? Research into the brain capacity and behaviour of octopuses and squid has led some experts to conclude that they’re just as smart as dogs. Some have even forged lifelong friendships with humans 🐙💕

Queue up My Octopus Teacher on Netflix for heart-warming proof – and try swapping the popcorn for something more sea-inspired … 

Plant-based octopus & squid alternatives: 

The store-bought vegan calamari options are pretty impressive these days – even nailing that slightly rubbery chewiness that actual calamari has – but they have to be tasted to be believed! 

We recommend Nature’s Charm canned vegan calamari or Lamong vegan calamari, which are both available online and delicious sautéed, or battered and fried. Otherwise, mushrooms can make a brilliant substitute in certain recipes.

Check out these plant-based calamari and octopus-inspired recipes for proof:

6. Shrimp & prawns can solve complex problems

Research has shown that even smaller animals like shrimp and prawns are worthy of our consideration. These little guys boast impressive cognitive and problem-solving abilities when it comes to navigating their environment and obtaining food. They’re highly adaptable, too! 

Speaking of adaptable, lots of classic prawn and shrimp dishes are super easy to make plant-based …

Plant-based shrimp & prawn alternatives:

You can find Sophie’s Kitchen vegan prawns floating around at Woolworths, and there are several brands of plant-based prawns available online too, including Lamyong, Vish, and Vincent Vegetarian

It’s super convenient to be able to have them delivered to your door, but if you just can’t wait, there are plenty of quick and easy recipes to try out in the meantime.

Forget the barbie – these vegan shrimp are so delicious that you’ll be skipping that step and chucking them straight in your mouth: 

7. Scallops are synchronised swimmers

Some species of scallops swim in groups – using a nifty shell-clapping technique to propel themselves through the water. The fact that scallops are able to synchronise their movements too, suggests that they’re capable of communicating and cooperating with each other.

We love the thought of leaving scallops in the sea to clap out a celebratory dance routine while we cook up some veg alternatives instead 💃

Plant-based scallops alternatives: 

Woolworths sells ready-made vegan scallops by Sophie’s Kitchen – and you can buy Nature’s Charm canned mushroom scallops online too. We are truly living in the future 🙌 

Most scallop-inspired plant-based recipes use mushrooms too. Once they’re seared and have soaked up all that buttery goodness, the result is pretty darn divine.

Try one of these vegan scallops recipes next time you’re in the mood for something seafood-esque and satisfying:

A pasta dish topped with mushroom 'scallops'.

8. Clams are vital ecological engineers

They may be small, but their importance to our oceans is mighty! Clams’ burrowing activities play an essential role by contributing to nutrient cycling, sediment composition, and overall ecosystem health ♻️

If you’re on team ‘leave clams in the sea to continue this important-sounding work’, there are lots of veg options we can dig into instead.

Plant-based clam alternatives: 

There currently aren’t any store-bought options for vegan clams – yet! (Watch this space 👀)

But there are several readily available ingredients that are perfect for substituting into any recipes that call for clams. Jackfruit and mushrooms work especially well thanks to their ‘meaty’ texture.

Check out these indulgent clam-inspired recipes that are all 100% plant-based:

The tide is turning towards plant-based food  🌊

Dive into even more fish-friendly recipe ideas here and check out VegKit’s shopping guide to browse some of the products recommended in this article, and see where you can buy them. 

The best places to find ready-made plant-based seafood products are the veg sections of your local supermarket, health food stores, Asian grocers, and online specialty stores, including Vegan Perfection, La Vida Vegan, and Kind to Earth.

With such a delicious variety of plant-based seafood at our fingertips, it’s easy to make eating choices that help protect our oceans and the remarkable animals who call them home.

Liv's author bio image

Meet Liv!

Having grown up in a “meat and 3 veg” kind of household, Liv’s embarrassed to admit that she was a bit of a one-note chef until she began exploring the world of plant-based food. Vegan cooking has given her a whole new appreciation for the symphonies of flavours that simple, nourishing wholefood ingredients can create. (Even eggplant, once her greatest nemesis, is now — in a delicious, miso-glazed redemption arc — her all-time favourite veg.)

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