Best vegan and plant-based fish taste tested
Whether you're looking for plant-based fish fingers, tuna, salmon or scampi, our vegan expert Richard Makin has tasted them all to find the best
This year’s Netflix documentary Seaspiracy alerted many to the complicated issues around eating fish. Whether it’s animal welfare concerns, the environmental impact or health implications, the popularity of a fish-free diet has grown dramatically.
When it comes to new, innovative plant-based seafood suppliers, the market has seen a rising tide too. Supermarket shelves are stocked with more plant-based fish alternatives than ever before. Variety is constantly increasing, from fishless fingers to tuna made of soy and 'smoked salmon' made from marinated carrot. We’ve taste tested a huge range of products in a hunt to identify the best plant-based fish alternatives out there.
Best plant-based fish products 2021
Zalmon is a great example of a simple product done well. Made from thinly sliced carrot infused with a smoky marinade, the flavour is subtle and delicate with a sweet/salty balance. The texture isn’t identical to salmon (it’s very difficult to entirely remove that snap from carrots), but we barely noticed this when layered on a bagel with vegan cream cheese and dill. At £6.50 for a 180g jar, some might consider making this at home instead, but for novice cooks looking for a quick vegan salmon fix, it’s a really great product.
- Available from GreenBay, £6.50
Ima Gluten-free Plant-based Salmon
A really exciting product, ideal for making vegan sushi and sashimi. The texture and appearance is staggeringly close to raw salmon and it even has the characteristic white lines when sliced. The flavour is very subtle and perhaps a little too sweet with not much of a fishy taste, but once marinated in soy sauce and thinly sliced (as the instructions recommend), the product is a very convincing and tasty alternative. At £6.99 for 250g it’s good value too, as a little goes a long way.
- Available from GreenBay, £6.99
Vegan Zeastar NoTuna Sashimi
Designed to imitate raw tuna and made from konjac root, this fish-less tuna really feels like the real deal. The texture is remarkable and the taste is subtle with a gentle, delicious fish flavour. It’s ideal for using in sushi or chopped into cubes and served in a poke bowl. At £9.29 for 310g it’s not ideal if you're on a budget, but this really is a unique and delicious product.
- Available from Vegetarian Express, £9.29
Vegan Zeastar Zalmon Sashimi
A salmon alternative that’s ideal for sushi and sashimi. Zalmon Sashimi looks staggeringly realistic, particularly when sliced, and tastes great straight from the pack or marinated. Try slicing thinly and tossing in some olive oil, liquid smoke and soy sauce for a delicious smoked salmon alternative. £6.91 for 230g makes this one of the more expensive options out there, but the quality and versatility of the product makes it worth a try.
- Available from Vegetarian Express, £6.91
Vegan Zeastar Lemon Shrimpz
These breaded vegan 'shrimpz' are incredibly close to the real thing. Made from konjac root, they have the convincing bounce and chew of real shrimp and the crispy coating is packed with flavour. They pair perfectly with a simple garlic aioli or try them in a spicy stir-fry. They’re not cheap, but they’re certainly cheerful and easily accessible.
- Available from Ocado, £4.95
Aldi Plant Menu Fishless Fingers
Crispy, flavoursome outside and succulent inside. There are a few vegan fish fingers on the market but these are head and shoulders above the rest. Perfect for a chunky fish finger sandwich and ideal for kids and nostalgic adults. What’s more, at only £1.29 for 240g, they’re excellent value for money.
- Available from Aldi, £1.29
M&S Plant Kitchen Melt in the Middle No Fish Cakes
These vegan fish cakes are ideal for an indulgent midweek dinner. Made from rice protein, the fish substitute is light and flaky with an undeniably convincing seafood flavour. Filled with a smooth, melting vegan cheese and coated in crispy golden breadcrumbs, they feel way more luxurious than the £4 price tag would have you believe. Serve with chips, mushy peas and a wedge of lemon for a nostalgic supper.
Marigold Soybean Vegan Tunah
This convenient tuna substitute is perfect for a quick snack or a school lunchbox filler. The texture is close to real tinned tuna and the flavour (although not identical) is pleasant and versatile. Try it in a tuna mayo sandwich or on a salad nicoise. It's more expensive than cans of real tuna, but a great addition to your vegan storecupboard regardless.
Quorn Vegan Fishless Scampi
Deliciously crispy vegan scampi bites, ideal for both kids and grown-ups! The texture isn’t quite as flaky as you’d expect, but they have a very appetising and convincingly fishy smell when baking in the oven. Serve with chips and peas for a quick, simple dinner or even use in home-made fishless tacos with avocado, red onion and lime. A great vegan freezer-filler to have on standby.
Moving Mountains 10 Plant-Based Fish Fingers
These are not the cheapest fish-less finger on the market but are by far the highest quality. The texture of the 'fish' inside is perfectly flaky and delicious with a convincingly white colour and seafood flavour. Once baked, the crispy outside is perfectly golden while the inside stays impressively succulent. Great in a fancy, fish-less finger sandwich with pea shoots and plenty of gherkins.