While fish is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and can provide numerous health benefits, some types of fish are high in environmental contaminants, and fish is not included in vegetarian diets. Fortunately, you can still get plenty of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins abundant in fish from vegetarian food sources.
Because tofu is rich protein and contains omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) it's an excellent vegetarian substitute for fish. While the omega-3s found in fish are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), your body can convert ALA into DHA and EPA, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Coat tofu in olive oil and season it with garlic powder, onion powder, kelp powder, and paprika before cooking it to mock the taste and texture of fish.
Some commercial protein-rich vegetarian products are made to mimic the taste of fish. These products often contain vegetarian sources of protein like wheat or soy, and some provide vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, found in algal oil. An example is Gardein's golden fishless filets, which mimic the taste, texture, and nutrient content of real fish.
Similar to tofu but with a firmer texture, tempeh is a protein-rich product made from soy -- and a source of omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Try coating tempeh with safflower oil and seasoning it with garlic powder, old bay seasoning, and kelp flakes before cooking it to make it mimic the taste of fish.
Vegetarian Walnut Burgers
While walnut veggie burgers may not taste like fish, they are an excellent substitute for the essential nutrients like protein and essential fatty acids found in fish. Like soy, walnuts are a source of ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA in your body. Commercial veggie burgers with walnuts are available, or try making your own lentil walnut burgers using a recipe provided by Whole Foods Market.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.