While sushi is considered a healthier option, many can’t help but wonder, is sushi vegan? For those thinking about going vegan or who have just started, this is often an important question that needs an answer. And if so, what’s the best way to enjoy vegan sushi options?
What is Sushi?
Sushi is a Japanese cuisine that typically includes fish or seafood, usually raw but occasionally cooked, together with specially prepared rice.
In Japan, sushi chefs spend years learning how to make the perfect sushi rice before they ever handle any fish or seafood, since the rice is so crucial to the dish.
Although the word “sushi” is often associated with raw fish, the most crucial component is really rice. In fact, the term “sushi” describes the sour taste of the rice that has been vinegared. Not of the garnishes or contents, sushi always has rice.
Is Sushi Vegan?
So, is sushi vegan? It’s a valid question that gets asked a lot. While the names may not be familiar, both fish and eggs are used to make sushi. Therefore, sushi does not always qualify as a vegan dish.
Finding sushi recipes that don’t contain any animal ingredients is actually the key to making sushi that is suited for a vegan diet.
It is also simple to prepare at home. Some of the most fantastic food you’ll ever eat is vegan sushi, whether you make it at home or find a restaurant that caters to your diet. Here’s what you need to know about how to keep your sushi vegan.
Why Do Vegans Need to be Careful with Sushi?
Sushi that contains any animal ingredients is not vegan. Veganism is the practice of abstaining from consuming any product made from an animal, including milk, cheese, or meat.
Vegans abstain from consuming these animal products because they think that their manufacturing involves exploitation and cruelty.
Many sushi recipes call for non-vegan ingredients, including fish, other seafood, dairy, mayo, and any other animal products you can think of. Since sushi recipes are very flexible, we should expect the release of new variations. The same is true of vegan sushi.
Restaurant Sushi is Tricky
While it may seem straightforward enough, the truth is that sushi from a restaurant can be a bit “sneaky.” This means that it can be challenging to find vegan sushi in restaurants. That’s because dashi, a seasoning that gives food an umami flavor, is commonly used as an added flavor for rice in Japanese eateries.
Although fish flakes are typically used to produce this spice, vegan alternatives like seaweed or mushrooms can also be used. Keep in mind, it’s almost a sure bet that the sushi restaurants’ rice includes very little fish.
Ask for a nori roll made without seafood or eggs. If you can get vegan rice and avoid the fish, you’ll be good to go. However, be aware that the price of your meal will still be just as costly regardless of whether fish is one of the ingredients.
Sushi restaurants are among the priciest places to eat because of the high cost of fish, but you’re not likely to get a discount on a vegan roll.
Although it can be challenging to get sushi that is entirely vegan in restaurants, many natural food stores provide vegan nori rolls. Just take a look in the refrigerator, which is located next to the sandwiches and other cooked foods.
Easy Sushi Alternatives
Whether you plan on going out to a sushi restaurant or want to make your own meals at home, there are plenty of ways to substitute ingredients for more vegan options. Obviously, the most compromising ingredient in sushi for a vegan diet is the fish and roe (fish eggs).
Here are a few delicious alternatives you can use to mimic the texture and sustenance of fish in vegan sushi recipes:
- Sweet potato
- Baked or fried tofu marinated with tamari
- Kabocha squash – baked
Since fish is often used as the main element in sushi, many sushi lovers believe it to be required. Luckily, this could not be further from the truth. You can turn your favorite rolls into vegan sushi with a few quick swaps from the ingredients above and more!
What Are The Best Vegan Sushi?
The good news for vegans is that many well-known sushi recipes can be created with vegan and plant-based components. If we go back to the original definition of sushi, we can see that it may also be produced out of vegetables and without the use of fish or other seafood.
Here are some of the most well-known sushi dishes that are vegan and sure to delight your tastebuds!
1. Cucumber Roll
Cucumber rolls are the best if you like milder flavors than the famous avocado roll. Cucumber Sushi acquires a fresh appearance and flavor thanks to the crunchiness and distinct texture that the cucumber adds. As an added bonus, nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium are abundant in cucumbers.
2. Avocado Roll
Most sushi bars serve avocado rolls. Everyone who visits a restaurant, vegan or not, enjoys a good avocado roll. Typically, avocados are rolled in sweet sticky rice to make these famous rolls. Avocados are an essential part of a vegan diet since they are an excellent source of potassium.
It is common to serve a ginger side dish as a complementary flavor to avocado rolls. Since ginger is loaded with antioxidants and purifiers, it is also a very beneficial addition. You’ll never be disappointed when ordering an avocado roll, that is for sure!
3. Caterpillar Roll
You’ll be happy to know that this dish doesn’t call for any actual caterpillars. Because of its general appearance, this sushi is called caterpillar sushi. Rice, nori, cucumber, and avocado are used to make it. However, eel is used in several recipes. As a result, be sure to double-check before consuming this meal, but you likely won’t find it in restaurant dishes.
4. Inari Sushi
Inari sushi is the way to go if you are looking for something fried and crunchy! Although you might not recognize the name of this sushi, you have probably seen it at sushi bars. The good news for anyone following a vegan diet is that this is a vegan option.
It has a pocket-like sushi appearance, and the bag contains fried tofu. Although additional veggies, such as avocado, may be included in the pocket, they can be consumed on its alone.
5. Shiitake Mushroom Sushi
Shiitake mushrooms are a particular variety with a powerful, savory flavor. They are dried and used to season soup stocks. The mushrooms are lightly seasoned with salt or soy sauce and flamed to enhance the smell when used in sushi. This vegan sushi is a delicious nibble because of the shiitake mushrooms’ rich flavor and moist texture.
Making Your Vegan Sushi at Home
It’s simple to prepare your own vegan sushi if there isn’t a store nearby that sells it. No dish is easier to make when it comes to preparing something unique, like vegan nori rolls. Sushi rice, vegetables, nori, and a sushi rolling mat are the only things you’ll need to get started.
Nori rolls are one of the easiest gourmet-inspired dinners you can cook once you get the hang of it. Vegan sushi-making tutorial videos may be found in abundance on YouTube, as well as step-by-step recipes on Google and other social media outlets.
Customizing Vegan Sushi is Simple (And Fun!)
Homemade nori rolls provide the ideal scenario for experimenting with newly released vegan fish products. For example, Ahimi, a product by Ocean Hugger Foods, is made of tomatoes but somehow has a texture and flavor profile startlingly identical to the most expensive and frequently limited tuna.
Sushi’s accompaniments account for half of its uniqueness. Try munching on slices of pickled ginger while sipping a cold Japanese beer at home or in a restaurant. Read labels and choose a gourmet brand if you want to avoid artificial sweeteners or red dye found in store-bought pickled ginger. Naturally, the best beer to pair with nori rolls is a Japanese-style lager.
Final Thoughts on Vegan Sushi
One thing that makes sushi such an amazing cuisine for both vegans and omnivores is its versatility. There are so many fun and inventive ways to pair flavors and textures in the search for the perfect roll!
This versatility also means that you can easily turn a traditional sushi roll into a vegan alternative, especially with the advancements in today’s vegan seafood alternatives. However, there are a few important things to keep in mind – particularly if you plan on eating sushi at a restaurant.
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients you aren’t familiar with – many sushi ingredients aren’t as straightforward as they seem. Most sushi restaurants are happy to discuss their cuisine with inquisitive customers. Also, be sure to ask if the rice is flavored with dashi.
Above all, have fun with your vegan sushi options, and don’t forget to try new recipes and combinations at home!