Is Eating Imitation Crab safe for a Vegetarian?
First off, you might be shocked by just reading the question above, which will make you think and question everything, but I’m going to explain it.
Imitation crab isn’t a real crab, but just like its name it doesn’t contain any kind of real crab meat.
Actually, the funny fact is that it has fish in it.
Here is a list of most typical and well-known ingredients of imitation crab:
The main ingredient is usually surimi, a paste that is made of fish and essentially formed through the processing of other fish into a paste and other ingredients are starch, egg whites, sugar, water, vegetable oil, salt and additives.
Surimi is often made with pollock, which is used to make fish sticks and breaded fish products.
Have you ever seen some stuff that is mixed with gobs of mayo and it is usually used to make crab salad or red and white meat stuffed in a sushi roll or even crab sticks in frozen cases at grocery stores?
Yeah, that’s imitation crab.
But another question that you might ask is that “Is imitation crab vegan?”
Before answering your question, I have to give you whole lotta information about what plant-based means and explaining the differences of 3 different plant-based diets.
Starting with, the origin of all of them.
In this article you will read:
The True Meaning of Plant-Based
As you can see in the name of it “plant-based” as a word is an adjective that is referred to foods or diets that are truly based on plants which basically means that the majority or even the whole of it comes from plants.
The only unexplained part of plant-based diet is that there is no clear answer for the question “does plant-based mean that it has no meat or a little bit of meat?”
Most websites and vegan magazines claim that plant-based means every food in the diet is without meat and there is no way of having even a little bit of it.
In contrast, it is really obvious that they really stand up for that fact.
But as of 2021, a contributor of Harvard Health Publishing which is the medical school of Harvard University wrote a blog and stated that plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants and it doesn’t certainly mean that you can’t be a vegetarian or you must be vegan and you can never eat dairy or meat.
So, in conclusion, we are going to say that because of mixed opinions there isn’t a one-way theme for plant-based diets.
Previously, I said that there were 3 main plant-based diets and they vary from one to another.
And that leads us to more explanation about plant-based diets and different variations of it.
Do vegetarians eat Imitation Crab?
People who follow vegetarianism are called vegetarians.
A vegetarian is someone who follows a plant-based diet that is mainly based on plants which means, most of their foods come from plants.
Now we get to meat eating allowance, vegetarians don’t eat any meat which supports the fact that they don’t want to consume any kind of animal meat because that leads to animal killing.
In simple words, they don’t want to kill animals in order to meet their food needs.
But that doesn’t mean that they don’t eat animal products.
I don’t want to make this article, a personal article but I have to say that I’m a vegetarian myself and speaking from a vegetarian standpoint I can firmly say that the vegetarian community doesn’t have any problem with eating animal products such as milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, ice cream.
The items above were all dairy products that can be eaten directly or you can use them to make some sorts of foods and snacks.
Also, you should know that all of them products are made from milk and there are loads of different types of them.
Like for cheese, we have blue cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, feta, parmesan, cottage cheese, cream cheese, etc.
Even there are different types of cream.
Such as, sour cream, light sour cream, heavy whipping cream.
And these products mentioned are only dairy products.
There are other animal products like eggs and honey.
To sum it up, you should know that vegetarians eat animal products because they claim that eating animal products won’t lead to animal killing.
Do vegans eat Imitation Crab?
Now, I’m going to talk about veganism.
A vegan is a person who follows a vegan diet which is also another plant-based diet.
Vegans don’t eat any kind of animal meat, neither do they consume any animal product.
Vegans believe that you should never consume any form of animal products because of particular ethical reason.
The ethical reason that vegans don’t even eat animal products is animals’ suffering.
For instance, they say that cows suffer from being milked constantly.
Or another example could be the cruelty of chicken farms.
Because, every year, around 7 billion male chicks are killed by egg producers.
So, the main difference between vegetarianism and veganism is eating or not eating animal products.
I’m a vegetarian myself. so, it wouldn’t be fair for me to say which is better or which one is worse.
Next up, we are going to talk about another so-called “plant-based” diet that might be weird for many people and speaking personally, it doesn’t make any sense to me too.
Do Pescatarians eat Imitation Crab?
A pescatarian is someone who chooses to eat a vegetarian diet which means plants and dairy but also eats fish and different types of seafood.
Healthline website explains their diet as a largely plant-based diet of whole grains, legumes, nuts, healthy fats with seafood playing a key role as a main protein source.
Also, most of them also eat dairy and eggs.
Although I believe that their diet is nonsense, but pescatarians claim that their diet is eco-friendly because it reduces climate impact since the carbon footprint of it is much less than the carbon footprint of raising land animals.
Carbon footprint is an indicator that showcases the total amount of greenhouse gasses emitted from an activity, product or company.
As a vegetarian, I am completely against the ideology of counting pescatarians as people whose diets are plant-based.
To me, it is utterly foolish since they say it is cruel to kill land animals but it is acceptable for them to kill animals which live in water.
We have to bring imitation crab back to the conversation.
Despite people who eat meat, pescatarians eat crab meat too.
But the invention of imitation crab has a long story.
But before we get to that part, I have to ensure you that although this article is all about imitation crab, we don’t suggest it to anybody. Because not only you are still killing animals, but you are also damaging nature by fishing.
It is estimated that between 0.97 to 2.7 trillion fish are caught each year.
Overfishing is a real crisis.
The Rise of Imitation Crab
The invention of imitation crab goes back to 1974.
Talking about its history and origin, imitation crab was made by a Japanese company.
We can’t tell why they made imitation crab but based on what food magazines and websites say, the main reason that leaded to the invention of imitation crab was that real crab meat at that time was expensive.
So, they came up with an alternative, that is less pricey so that people could afford it.
Imitation crab is widely used instead of real crab meat in foods like sushi, crab cake or even in salads.
The ingredients that were written in the introduction, only apply to pescatarian version of imitation crab.
There are other versions of imitation crab like the vegetarian version that contains egg instead of fish paste, so that vegetarians can have it in their diet because it doesn’t have animal meat.
But even the vegetarian version is still inappropriate for vegans.
Right now, you might have a question like: Is there a vegan version of imitation crab?
The answer is yes.
Vegan Imitation Crab
The best alternatives for imitation crab are definitely the vegan ones and there are lots of different recipes for vegan imitation crab. The most famous ones are:
Hearts of palm, jackfruit, artichoke, lion’s mane mushrooms, tofu, tempeh.
Before I give you the recipe of the best vegan crab I’m going to put a comparison table below so you can see the ingredients of different crab sticks that are available in stores including the vegan versions.
But don’t forget that these are from different brands and the ingredients may vary brand to brand.
|Meijer Imitation Crab Meat||Aroy-D Young Green Jackfruit||Wildwood Organic Firm Tofu||Lightlife Original Tempeh|
|Pollock (fish), water, corn starch, egg whites, sea salt, king crab meat, fish oil, rice wine, yam flour, carrageenan, potassium chloride, carmine, paprika||Jackfruit, water, salt, citric acid||Filtered water, sprouted organic soybeans, calcium sulfate, magnesium chloride||Cultured organic soybeans, water, organic brown rice|
After the ingredients, we are going to talk about macronutrients. so, in the next table we are comparing the macronutrients of exact 4 products that were written above.
|Imitation Crab Type||Calories per 100 grams||Amount of Protein per 100 grams||Amount of Carbs per 100 grams||Amount of Fat per 100 grams||Amount of Sugar per 100 grams|
|Meijer Imitation Crab Meat (contains real fish)||80||6 g||14 g||0 g||3 g|
|Aroy-D Young Green Jackfruit||40||4 g||3 g||1 g||0 g|
|Wildwood Organic Firm Tofu||45||9 g||1 g||5 g||0 g|
|Lightlife Original Tempeh||160||18 g||12 g||5 g||0 g|
So, as you can see, the last product which is vegan has triple the amount of protein comparing to the non-vegan version.
Besides the nutrient density of vegan versions, choosing them will be better for the nature.
My Personal Opinion: Would I eat Imitation Crab?
As a vegetarian, I will never eat imitation crab because of all the facts and disadvantages that were said before.
My advice for you is that if you are going to buy imitation crab that is partially cooked, you should be looking for labels or ingredients to see if it is vegan.
And even if you have just started to go vegan, don’t ever have the assumption of eating everything just to reach your macros.
You can easily hit your target and complete your diet by just having different nutrient dense vegan foods so you won’t have to eat processed food even if it is vegan.
Because this is all about choosing the better alternative that helps you to improve your diet so you can improve your health.
Home-Made Vegan Imitation Crab
At last, I want to teach you how to cook vegan imitation crab so you can make this affordable, healthy food on your own. Because even the vegan crab sticks that are available in supermarkets or the ones in restaurants are expensive just like the real crab meat.
Based on the last table the crab sticks that had the most amount of protein were made with tempeh.
So now, I’m going to give you the recipe of tempeh mock crab cakes that is completely vegan.
- 12 oz tempeh
- 2 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ bread crumbs
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 2 scallions, minced
- ½ carrot, minced
- 2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup tofu mayonnaise
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon oil
- Place your tempeh in a bowl then pour enough water to cover on top, with 1 teaspoon of salt and let it soak for at least 2 hours.
- After that, crumble tempeh and mix with ¼ cup bread crumbs, celery, carrot, scallions and parsley.
- Place the remaining bread crumbs in a shallow bowl.
- Then bring another bowl and whisk together everything else except oil, then stir into tempeh.
- Then, place wax paper on cookie sheet.
- Right after that, form tempeh mixture into small, 1-cm thick patties.
- Dip it in bread crumbs then place on wax paper . refrigerate 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Now it’s time for cooking, heat oil in pan over medium heat. Fry your patties until they are golden brown, turn and repeat.
- Serve them with sherry sauce and you are good to go.
In conclusion, we flash back to the main topic to answer the question “is eating imitation crab safe for a vegetarian?”
As all of us know, the short answer is yes but throughout the whole article, there were lots of advantages written about vegan imitation crab, from being cruelty-free and nature-friendly to being nutrient dense and tasty.
So, not only vegans can consume the vegan version, vegetarians can consume it too.
Because it is way better than vegetarian version which contains egg.
I hope this article was helpful for you and answered every question that you had in your mind and also pushing you to try vegan imitation crab even for once.
Over to you.