Plant-based 'seafood': 10 ocean-inspired meals, minus animals

There are plenty of reasons to leave sea animals in the sea, not least of all because that's where they prefer to be left! To get a taste of the ocean, we have crafty chefs and innovative companies to thank for a growing range of sea-inspired dishes, without the fishy business ...

LAST UPDATED: 11 June 2021

Did you know that fish have unique personalities? And that octopuses can use tools and solve puzzles? Increasingly, people are recognising that sea animals simply belong in the sea — for both the wellbeing of these intelligent animals and the general health of the ocean's ecosystems. And with delicious plant-based recipes and products for every 'seafood' dish you could imagine, it's never been easier to leave those animals off our dinner plates.

Tofish and chips

Seasoned tofu pieces, dipped in bubbly beer batter and fried to perfection. Try a medium firm tofu for best 'tofish' texture. Serve it with chips or onion rings ... or both!

Mushroom 'calamari'
Image and recipe by Planticize

Crispy, airy rings of king oyster mushroom with just the right amount of chew — enough to imagine you're sitting at a seaside Italian restaurant. For dipping, whip up the included marinara recipe or grab an egg-free mayo or tartare, such as Vegenaise or Masterfoods Traditional Tartare.

Chickpea 'tuna' sandwich
Image and recipe by Simple Veganista

The chickpea is a famously versatile bean and one of its many talents is cultivating a tuna-like texture and flavour with a bit of mashing and a few additional ingredients! Combined with celery, crushed nori (seaweed) sheets, and a slathering of vegan mayo or hummus, this chickpea salad makes a delicious and nutritious sandwich filler — or cracker topper! Important note: fresh dill makes a fabulous additional flavouring, too.

Banana blossom 'fish' tacos
Images and recipe by School Night Vegan

These flaky, crispy fish-free tacos are made with banana blossom — the large, 'fleshy' flower of the banana tree which bears a striking resemblance in texture to the animals traditionally used for fish and chips or fish tacos... Find them canned at supermarkets or your local Asian grocer, and have a ball experimenting with this wondrous ingredient!

Creamy no-clam chowder
Image and recipe by Produce on Parade

A rich and creamy chowder with smoky shiitake mushroom confit — this is the perfect winter warmer. You'll want some crusty bread to scrape up every last bit from your bowl.

Carrot 'lox' and cream cheese bagels
Image and recipe by Olives for Dinner

These salted, smoked carrot slices are free from the mercury and antibiotics commonly found in salmon. Combine with dairy-free cream cheese for the ultimate bagel experience or pile on top of rice, avocado, cucumber and seaweed for a fresh, sea-inspired poke bowl.

Artichoke 'crabcakes'
Image and recipe by Hot for Food

These soft and delicious crumbed patties are bound to be a hit with friends and family. With flaky artichoke hearts and crunchy bits of celery, these are equally appropriate as finger foods or the centrepiece of a hearty, meat-free meal.

Mushroom 'scallops' with creamy white wine sauce
Image and recipe by Olives for Dinner

Who knew that mushroom stems could make such a convincing scallop? It's genius! Combined with capers, cream sauce and fresh parsley and lemon, this is a moreish pasta dish with delicate flavours of the sea.

Shiitake 'shrimp'
Image and recipe by Fork and Beans

These little numbers are shrimply divine. Enjoy these baked, bite-size pieces as entrees (better double the recipe) or pop on top of a crunchy salad for a beautifully balanced lunch!

Filet-O-Eggplant Sandwich
Image and recipe by The Edgy Veg

Crumbed eggplant becomes the filet in this fish-friendly version of the Macca's classic, sandwiched between tartare sauce and dairy-free cheese on a fluffy white bun. Soft, crunchy, and savoury in all the right places — what's not to love?

Quick and simple seafood replacements

Make any of your favourite seafood recipes animal-friendly with the plant-based products on offer at supermarkets or online. You may want to check out your local health food store, Asian supermarket or vegan specialty store to explore their plant-based 'meats' and 'seafood' — these shops are often full of hidden treasures! You can also order these products (and more) for delivery from The Vegan Grocery Store.

Perfect for 'prawn' cocktails, 'fish' and chips and more! Pictured: Fry's battered prawn style pieces, Gardein fishless filets and Lamyong vegetarian prawn
Perfect for 'prawn' cocktails, 'fish' and chips and more! Pictured: Fry's battered prawn style pieces, Gardein fishless filets and Lamyong vegetarian prawn

What's wrong with seafood?

Sadly, at the current fishing rates, animals are being pulled out of the sea faster than they are reproducing. Scientists have predicted that if we don't make a change, ocean ecosystems could collapse by 2050. Animals who are pulled out of the ocean often suffer a slow and painful death by suffocation. In addition to fish, animals like turtles, dolphins, sharks, stingrays and seals are regularly caught and killed in trawling nets.

Farmed sea animals suffer in additional ways. Fish in fish farms are forced to live in such cramped and stressful environments that many show signs of severe depression, and in prawn farms, female prawns have their eyes cut off to make them breed faster. You can find out more about these issues at the links below.

You have the power to save our sea-dwelling friends

The good news is that making a difference for sea animals (and land animals) is as easy as reducing your meat consumption or eating meat-free — and 1 in 3 Aussies are already doing this!

It's an added bonus that eating plant-based food is generally better for the environment and has health benefits for individuals.

If you're keen to see more animal-friendly products and meal ideas, and lots of plant-based tips and inspiration, be sure to grab a copy of our FREE Veg Starter Kit — Order yours here! And if you're ready to get cooking straight away, then you might like to browse our collection of 200+ scrumptious plant-based recipes over on VegKit :)