Consumer Fish Food & Drink LIFESTYLE Long Reads News Veganism

the next stage of veganism is here, and it’s already mainstream

Vegan fish

In short

  • The next stage in Britain’s shift to veganism might nicely be vegan fish
  • Grocery store consumers welcome the arrival – and even non-vegans do not thoughts having an alternate
  • However one fishmonger reckons flexitarians would like to only minimize down than change over

By no means has a meals development exploded with such vigour and so early on in the yr. It is perhaps jostling for place with crumpets, kombucha, and prawn heads, however veganism sparks the wildest and most militant debate.

“If somebody offered it to me at a party or something, I wouldn’t refuse.”

In 2018, quite a few items cited veganism as a coming tour de drive. Some may argue it already was one: New York-based vegan restaurant By Chloe, full of tofu and avocado, opened in London; excessive road pizza chains, which weren’t lengthy earlier than celebrating their gluten-free bases, launched vegan cheese; and plant-based burgers that “bleed” have been popularised throughout the nation. Even Tesco shares them now.

Vegan scallops

However final yr, an ever-blithe Piers Morgan wasn’t pretending to vomit right into a bucket on nationwide TV after consuming one of Greggs’ new vegan sausage rolls. And indignant individuals on Fb weren’t shouting about defending their proper to eat cooked breakfasts. If Good Morning Britain and the Fb group abruptly care, veganism is not at fad standing, and it’s not London-focused – it’s mainstream.

So, now veganism is properly and really sweeping by means of the British psyche, what’s next? Might vegan fish be the remaining cog in the plant-based mechanism? We find out about Wagamama’s aubergine katsu and What the Pitta’s soy-based doner kebab, however vegan smoked salmon and vegan prawns? They’re coming to a grocery store shelf close to you.

Vegan fishSophie’s Kitchen has an entire vary of vegan seafood, and they’re more and more widespread (Photograph: inews)

Sainsbury’s this month introduced the launch of Sophie’s Kitchen, a US firm that makes every little thing from vegan scallops to vegan lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. It’s the smoked salmon and shrimp that are getting a trial run in the UK over the coming months.

Sophie’s Kitchen, which hasn’t but responded to i, says it is “on a mission to make plant-based seafood accessible and delicious to everyone”.

More healthy way of life?

CEO and founder Eugene Wang stated beforehand: “People understand that by 2050 there will be nine billion people on this planet and animal protein is not going to be sustainable, so consumers are rushing to alternative proteins.”

The primary listed ingredient in the shrimp is water. However is additionally incorporates konjac powder (the similar stuff that’s in zero-calorie noodles), beta glucan (sugars present in the likes of cereals and fungi), pea starch, fenugreek, agave, alginate (derived from seaweed), paprika, and calcium hydroxide (an E quantity utilized in meals).

In the smoked salmon, clients will discover a lot the similar, however with the addition of olive oil, potato starch and seaweed powder. It options no beta glucan.

I go to Sainsbury’s Balham and discover Kelly Southgate, a psychologist, buying post-hot yoga. Ms Southgate is a brand new vegan, and is intrigued by the prospect of fake fish, one thing she’s but to correctly discover.

Vegan fishKelly Southgate has been vegan for a yr (Photograph: Kelly Southgate)

“I’ve only been a vegan for a year, but I’ve seen over the last 12 months a huge amount more on offer,” says Ms Southgate.

“There’s a lot extra selection. However I do nonetheless discover it onerous being vegan and I choose to keep away from the processed stuff, as I don’t actually see how that matches with a vegan way of life. I made a decision to comply with a plant-based food regimen for well being causes.

“I’ve not tried this [Sophie’s Kitchen], but I would definitely give it a go. I think it’s needed. I think there should be variety.”

Balham Waitrose

Catrina Cimetta, who works in Parliament, is in Balham Waitrose. Like Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, which in its annual developments report final yr predicted a mammoth rise in veganism in 2019, has simply entered the world of vegan fish. It launched “fishless fingers” this month. They’re produced from breaded seaweed tofu and are solely the starting.

Ms Cimetta, who grew up round an Italian farming household, has been a vegan for 4 years and is aware of all about vegan fish.

She tells i: “It’s nice there are extra choices now. And I like vegan fish. It’s good to have a selection and not be restricted by my food regimen.

“There are a lot of plant-based meat alternatives so it’s great that fish is also more of a choice now. I really like Vivera ‘fish’ goujons [made from wheat protein]. They’re great.”

Vegan fishWaitrose is going huge on veganism this yr (Photograph: inews)

Even a non-vegan is prepared to offer the product a go. Julie Hollywood says: “I wouldn’t be drawn to vegan fish, but I’d try it, sure. I like trying alternatives. It’s good to have an open mind about these things.”

Like just about all vegan ideas, nevertheless, fake fish isn’t everybody’s cup of seawater.

Shopper Bianca Treece, a full-time mum, has a trolley full of hen and doesn’t present any indicators of stopping by the veggie/vegan part, the place I’ve arrange camp.

“Well, I would try it,” she tells me. “If anyone provided it to me at a celebration or one thing, I wouldn’t refuse.


“But if I buy fish, I buy fish. I know people are consciously cutting down on meat and that’s a good thing. I can’t say vegan fish appeals to me.”

I’m curious to study whether or not – as with so many plant-based eating choices today – vegan fish may also attraction to meat and fish eaters who need to minimize down: the flexitarians, rampant as they’re. The motion is the trendy motorcycle sidecar to veganism, and is serving to to propel the common shift.

Will vegan crab muffins fulfill in the similar method a Past Burger does? Trustworthy Burgers pairs the pattie with vegan smoked Gouda, chipotle mayo, mustard, pink onion, pickles, and lettuce, and it is good. 

Vegan fishWaitrose launches vegan fishless fingers this month (Photograph: Waitrose)

Outdoors the confines of South West London supermarkets, I ask my pal Jack Skinner, a landscaper from Essex who spends rather a lot of time fishing for crabs in Cornwall (with me, some of the time), what he thinks about vegan fish.

Mr Skinner says that whereas decreasing meat consumption is an essential environmental concern, quite a bit of fish are nonetheless sustainable, and having fun with a fillet of hake a few times every week isn’t the similar as gorging on infinite beef burgers.

“I don’t think you can conflate fish with sausage rolls,” Mr Skinner says. “Clearly, there are species that are overfished and we have to tackle that.

‘I don’t assume you possibly can conflate fish with sausage rolls’

“However there are tons of fish which might be sustainable and it worries me that there are individuals who assume a whole business must be misplaced.

“I do know veganism is rising and I respect that. However I feel if we’re going to be noble, we additionally want to focus on making certain individuals purchase a wider vary of fish.

“I wouldn’t buy this stuff. I’m not really keen. It’s not smoked salmon anyway, is it. Call it something else.”

Vegan fishFishmonger Rex Goldsmith doesn’t see the attraction, notably (Photograph: Rex Goldsmith)

London fishmonger Rex Goldsmith tells me: “I sympathise with individuals, good for them in the event that they need to go vegan. That’s nice.

“However vegan fish seems like a novelty to me. It’s an enormous fucking advertising ploy actually isn’t it. Supermarkets today simply need to be inexperienced to be seen.

“I’m unsure correct vegans would even need the style and texture of smoked salmon anyway? And I can’t see this being successful with the flexitarian market, as a result of wouldn’t they only reduce down a bit and take pleasure in the fish each now and then?


“I can’t see myself trying this or selling it. I sell fish. Sure, if they save a few cod’s lives than that’s great. Good luck to them. But this seems a step too far really. It’s a bit bollocks.”

At residence, the vegan smoked salmon is a textually difficult affair. It is spongy, like one of these foam mattresses you used to finish up sleeping on whereas visiting a good friend at college, and is the color of what you may’ve sicked up the next day.

The vegan shrimp are much less distressing. They appear fairly sensible and maintain up nicely in a stir fry. The flavour isn’t precisely the similar – nicely of course it isn’t – however there’s a fishy twang; a canny suggestion of the sea.

“I don’t trust anything that tastes of fish that isn’t fish,” a good friend tells me. Which may be a good level.

Vegan fishSainsbury’s is including to its vegan vary (Photograph: inews)

Prefer it or not, although, vegan seafood is right here, and it’s already confirmed to work. London chippy Sutton & Sons launched a vegan menu in October 2018, and assigned one of its outlets to be totally plant-based.

Proprietor Danny Sutton tells me gross sales have been “steady”, and each vegans and non-vegans have loved the dish he’s created, which makes use of banana blossom, the coronary heart of the banana tree flower, marinated in seaweed and samphire earlier than being dipped in an eggless batter.

“I think it works because a lot of people are switching to a vegan lifestyle and there’s a real nostalgia around fish and chips – people miss it,” Mr Sutton says.

“It’s that Friday night time factor. We’ve had vegans in, who actually like it, and non-vegans who do too. Some say they in all probability wouldn’t have it once more, and that’s superb, however we’re seeing primarily constructive reactions.

Banana blossom and samphire

“We even have tofish [tofu in place of fish] on the menu, and vegan scampi, and gross sales are what we anticipated.

“There’s a real market for it, and I think there’s also the point that sea stocks are struggling. If we can mix it up, I think it’s a good thing. Flexitarinism is getting bigger. Let’s see what happens.”

Mr Sutton provides that he has to import the banana blossom, which is “a bit like an artichoke heart”, from Thailand, which is air miles the place they wouldn’t have been any. He says he’s wanting into options.

Air miles apart, at Sutton & Sons – and Britain’s quite a few different vegan fish and chip outlets – there seems an actual draw for fake fish. Will vegan smoked salmon take off in the similar approach? Who is aware of – however it gained’t be shocking if it does. In the meantime, battered banana blossom is a superb place to start out in case you fancy flexing your vegan tendencies a bit extra.