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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Vegan Shellfish Alternatives

Aug 01, 2022 06:00AM ● By April Thompson

Vegans or people with shellfish allergies can still enjoy the rich umami flavor of an oyster or clam with a little creativity. Here are a few suggested alternatives.

King oyster mushrooms: This mushroom is a misnomer perhaps, as its meaty stem, sliced in one-inch sections and sautéed or broiled, looks and tastes more like a scallop than an oyster. In general, mushrooms have a similar mouthfeel to shellfish: The chitin found in the shells of crustaceans are also a key compound in fungi. They can be added to many dishes as a satisfying substitute for seafood and other animal proteins. However, shellfish and mushroom allergies can overlap as a result of chitin sensitivities, so allergy sufferers should proceed with caution.

Seaweed: Kelp, dulse and other edible algae can also add a touch of that salty, sea-kissed flavor of shellfish, as well as important trace minerals and antioxidants, to dishes like chowders and stews without adding empty calories.

Heart of palm: The tender chewy texture of hearts of palm, flavored well, can serve as a surprising proxy for shellfish and seafood, particularly for rich dishes like fried calamari, lobster rolls or crab salad.

For those seeking a plant-based diet for ethical or other reasons, it’s worth noting that a subset of vegans believe that consuming oysters and mussels does not contradict their commitment to a compassionate diet, given that bivalves lack a central nervous system. This somewhat controversial offshoot of veganism even has its own name—ostroveganism, from the Latin word ostrea, meaning oyster.

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