Vegetarian Substitute for Shrimp: What Can You Eat Instead?

Shrimp is probably the most-loved seafood in the U.S. and an integral part of many delicious meals such as shrimp cocktails and seafood pasta.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that many people miss this food when transitioning to vegetarianism. Luckily, there are ways to continue eating shrimp dishes without using real shrimp.

When you’re craving this delicate seafood, you can reach for one of the many available pre-made vegetarian shrimp options from brands like Loving Hut and Sophie’s Kitchen.

Alternatively, you can find a few ingredients like tofu or mushrooms that serve as an excellent vegetarian substitute for shrimp at home. Keep reading to learn more.

vegetarian substitute for shrimp

Who Choose a Vegetarian Substitute for Shrimp?

No matter how tasty they may be, consuming shrimp and other seafood is out of the question for vegetarians, and there are multiple reasons why it’s off-limits.

First of all, the sea industry has a catastrophic effect on the ocean and its wildlife.

It pollutes the waters, while overfishing leads to a sharp decline of fish in the sea, putting some species on the brink of extinction.

Secondly, slave labor is a massive part of the shrimp-farming industry. There were efforts to combat the shrimp import from countries engaging in this practice.

However, the complexity of the supply chain makes it hard to precisely know where the shrimps came from.

Finally, shrimps are sentient beings, meaning they feel both physical and emotional pain.

And the worst part is that they aren’t the only ones hurting in this process. Many sea creatures like whales, dolphins, and turtles get trapped or killed in the fishing nets.

What Is a Good Vegetarian Substitute for Shrimp?

If you can’t find any pre-made version (more on this below), don’t worry. You can use a few staple ingredients as the perfect vegetarian substitute for shrimp.

Mushrooms are great for substituting all kinds of seafood, including fish, crab meat, and shrimp.

Most mock shrimp recipes call for mushrooms, sweet potatoes, or tofu.

When looking for a reasonable substitute, it’s essential to find products that accurately match shrimp’s distinctive texture and flavor.

However, as shrimp are frequently the dish’s star ingredient, having the alternative match the shrimp’s appearance is also a must.

Let’s take a look at my recommended vegetarian substitutes for shrimp.

Mushrooms

With so many available mushroom varieties, it shouldn’t be surprising that you can use them to transform almost any recipe into a vegetarian delight.

I suggest using the King Oyster variety when you set your sights on mock shrimp.

These bulky mushrooms get their name from their distinctive shape, perfect for mimicking shrimp.

In addition, they have a meaty and tender texture, just like shrimp.

To get as close as possible to the real deal, cut them into strips that resemble a shrimp’s shape and season them with Old Bay Seasoning.

Although you can use any seasoning, Old Bay is a favorite. It contributes to both the familiar taste and color of cooked shrimp.

After prepping the mushrooms, you can stir-fry them or fry them breaded. Then, serve them as you would regular shrimp, or add them to a favorite recipe that calls for this seafood.

Mushrooms are also great for making vegetarian shrimp paste. My favorite for this is Shiitake mushrooms.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be a surprising vegetarian substitute for shrimp with a little effort on your part.

Thanks to its consistency, you can knead sweet potato puree into a dough of shrimp-like texture. But, of course, don’t forget the seasoning for the fishy taste and shrimp color.

You can also add seaweed to the broth you’ll use to cook the faux shrimps to play up the shrimp flavor.

The finished product will look great in a shrimp cocktail or on top of pasta.

Tofu

If you’ve been a vegetarian for some time, you’re likely to have tofu lying around. This versatile soy product is the go-to ingredient for many vegetarian recipes.

Its texture and mild taste will work great as a vegetarian substitute for shrimp.

The neutral flavor is essential because it makes it easy to infuse tofu with shrimp seasoning.

In addition, tofu is known to pick up the surrounding flavors exceptionally well, so you’ll have a delicious faux shrimp.

For this purpose, it’s best to use soft tofu. It has the right texture, and it’s easier to cook.

After cooking, simply drain the tofu, cut it into strips, and toss it in any dish that calls for shrimps.

Pre-Made Vegetarian Substitute for Shrimp

The growing demand for vegetarian food and the universal love for this delicious seafood contributed to a great selection of shrimp substitutes.

If you’re looking for an authentic mock shrimp, you’ll be happy to know you can find several excellent choices in a local market.

Loving Hut

The Loving Hut brand offers an excellent Fresh Ocean Shrimp product.

These vegan shrimps are made with non-GMO ingredients, and they taste and look pretty realistically.

You can look for them at your local Asian market or purchase them online.

Sophie’s Kitchen

Sophie’s Kitchen has been in the vegan seafood game for over 10 years. So, it’s not surprising they offer one of the best vegetarian shrimp options.

Apart from being vegetarian, their Breaded Shrimps are vegan, soy and gluten-free, and non-GMO.

You can find Sophie’s Kitchen at Sprouts and Walmart or order their products on Amazon.

BeLeaf

The BeLeaf company produces various vegan meat and fish substitutes, including shrimp.

This product perfectly matches the texture, taste, and look of an actual shrimp.

Another great thing is that they’re already cooked, so you can have them reasonably quickly after reheating them.

Vegan restaurants commonly use this brand in their seafood dishes. You can find BeLeaf products at your local store or various online sites.

New Wave Foods

New Wave Foods is a biotech company that pioneered a technique for making plant-based shrimp out of algae.

Their New Wave Shrimps look like the real deal and have their distinctive texture and a faintly fishy taste.

In addition, they’re vegan and kosher and contain no cholesterol, soy, gluten, or shellfish allergens.

In Summary

Shrimp is the star ingredient of various delicious stir-fry, soup, and pasta dishes. Therefore, it might be challenging to avoid it if you’re trying to stick to a vegetarian diet.

Luckily, you can still make all of your favorite shrimp recipes, provided you find the perfect vegetarian substitute for shrimp.

Thanks to the increasing demand for vegan seafood, you can find many credible shrimp alternatives in the stores.

Apart from that, you can make your own faux shrimp from the comfort of your kitchen.

Whatever route you choose, the result will always be pure enjoyment with zero guilt.