Food & Drinks

Vegan Tuna: What’s In It Actually? | Lifestyle

That meat substitutes big business is evident during our shopping the supermarket. Complete shelves full of tofu, tempeh and bean curd and vegetable imitations of burgers, smoked sausage, minced meat and much more. Usually made from legumes in the form of soybeans or lupine.

Last year, bank Barclays even calculated that the turnover of meat substitutes will grow to 125 billion euros per year in the next ten years, with a market share of 10 percent on the meat market …

Why vegan tuna anyway?

In recent years, more and more companies have turned to vegetable tuna. For example, you have TuNo (from the Dutch family business Schouten), Vuna (Nestlé), the American Good Catch and the Fish Free Tuna from the Vegetarian Butcher (Unilever). However, vegetarian tuna is not only about making money, the companies say they firmly believe in a more sustainable future and a balance between people and nature.

“In 2050, we will have to share a planet with more people that is already being overloaded. We must make choices that allow us to live within the limits of the planet and in harmony with nature. Humanity can contribute to this by eating less meat ”, can be read on Schouten’s website.

Good Catch’s founders, American brothers Chad and Derek Sarno, also believe that plant foods can feed and save the world. “We need to be careful with our planet, its oceans, animal life and valuable resources.”

What’s in it?

Most producers use soy protein, wheat protein, or a combination of the two for their vegan tuna. In addition, they all contain a vegetable oil based on, for example, rapeseed, soy or sunflower. There are also seaweed extract or algae added to create a fish flavor.

At Good Catch they use algae oil for this. Their protein mix consists of the protein from six types of legumes. “That has a number of advantages,” says founder Chad Sarno. “It is easier to digest than foods with a type of protein. Another advantage is that we are not dependent on one type of legume protein for our supply. Moreover, that specific mix of proteins ensured the ideal flake structure. ”

In addition to proteins and oil, the vegetable tuna varieties contain various aromas and flavors. By the way, they are not always natural. Check the ingredients on the packaging.

But how do they make solid pieces of that protein / oil mix? That happens during a process that high moisture extrusion hot; a combination of high pressure and hydration. You can find examples of that factory process here (start at 6:07 PM).


An ingenious invention, but it doesn’t make you hungry … Incidentally, there is a lot of protein in vegetable tuna; about 17-19 grams per 100 grams and hardly any fats or sugars. Yet it is less nutritious than other meat substitutes, because iron, vitamins B1 and / or B12 are lacking. It does sometimes contain Omega-3 fats, presumably thanks to the added oil. Then eggs, legumes, nuts, peanuts and kernels are better meat substitutes because they are richer in proteins, vitamins and minerals.

But at the same time, vegetarian tuna on your bread is much healthier than, for example, pâté or chocolate spread. Moreover, in terms of taste, the vegetable tuna is (sometimes) quite close to the real thing. So why not?

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