If you’re someone who cares about animals and the environment, there’s no way you’re still buying dead fish and crustaceans for Christmas dinner. Marine biologists say that we’ll be facing fishless oceans by 2048 unless we drastically curb our appetite for seafood. Deep-sea trawlers catch every animal in their path, meaning that your seafood buffet probably killed a dolphin, turtle, or dugong, too. And you’ve probably heard about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – you know, that 80,000-tonne floating pile of junk in the middle of the ocean, almost half of which is made up of discarded fishing gear.
Then there’s the fact that fish are sensitive and smart individuals who obviously struggle and fight for their lives when they’re pulled from the water. Even though sea animals have nervous systems similar to our own and can feel pain, they’re slaughtered without any regard for their welfare and denied even the basic rights of protection afforded to land animals who are raised for food. They suffer horribly in nets, on hooks, and on the decks of fishing boats – slowing suffocating or being cut open while still conscious.
Think eating farmed fish is better? Like all factory-farmed animals, fish in these facilities endure intense confinement, filthy conditions, mistreatment, and high levels of disease and parasites. Kept in underwater cages, they never have the chance to swim freely or exercise their natural instincts. Fish farmers lace feed with chemicals and antibiotics (in an attempt to counteract the harmful effects of severe crowding) as well as with drugs that unnaturally accelerate growth. These substances harm the fish themselves, the humans who then ingest their flesh, and the local environment, as waters become contaminated. Gross.
Clearly, the best seafood to buy this Christmas is vegan. Check out the delicious supermarket finds and recipes below to help animals and the environment this holiday season.
Head to your local Asian supermarket to scoop up some Lamyong’s Vegetarian Prawns. Vish (crumbed or plain) prawns are also available at the Vegan Grocery Store in Sydney, Melbourne, and online, and for folks on the West Coast, check out Sophie’s Kitchen prawns at La Vida Vegan.
Season them, pop them on the barbecue, or toss them into a salad. Make “prawn” skewers and serve them with vegan tartare sauce (MasterFoods Traditional Tartare Sauce is vegan!), or create an entire plant-based seafood platter for grazing.
Georgie Purcell and Ward Young
If you’re searching for quick addition to your seafood spread, look for Nature’s Charm Vegan Calamari tins (made from mushrooms!) and Lamyong’s Vegetarian Calamari, available at the Vegan Grocery Store and your local Asian supermarket. If you want to be a bit creative, try making your own cruelty-free calamari out of king oyster mushrooms.
Packing a picnic of fish and chips to take to the beach? Fry’s Golden Crispy Fish-Style Fillets and Gardein’s Fishless Filets are both available at Woolworths. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, make your own vegan fish with this recipe using banana blossoms!