Although seaweed isn’t quite as popular state-side as it is in Asian cuisine (particularly China, Japan, and Korea), America’s growing love of sushi has led to growing awareness of this delicious green leaf.
Seaweed is best known for its strong salty, umami flavor profile that makes it tastes very similar to seafood. Understandably, this can cause some doubt.
Is Seaweed vegan?
Seaweed is 100% vegan. In fact, it’s one of the healthiest vegetables in the world and one that more vegans should start adding to their diet.
Its salty, savory flavor comes from natural oceanic minerals and sea salt. Seaweed processing is all-natural and doesn’t involve the use of any animal by-products.
Whether you love seaweed or you’ve never gotten around to trying it, you’ve come to the right place! Even if you hate seaweed, my goal is to make you take a closer look at it and at least give it some appreciation.
I’ll start by explaining the process of how seaweed is grown and processed, answer some commonly asked questions about seaweed, and break down why seaweed is so healthy. Let’s take a trip under the sea!
Is Seaweed Salad Vegan?
One of the most popular seaweed dishes is seaweed salad. It’s commonly found as an appetizer served at Japanese and Asian-fusion restaurants. Seaweed salad is made with a variety of fresh ingredients, including:
- Chopped seaweed
- Soy sauce
- Mirin (a slightly sour rice wine)
- Sesame seeds and oil
- Fresh yuzu juice
- Rice vinegar
- Chili pepper
- Freshly ginger shavings or pickled ginger
As you can see, all of the ingredients in seaweed salad are 100% vegan. Seaweed salad is incredibly delicious, nutritious, and is packed full of healthy vitamins, minerals, as well as healthy fats, and Omega-3 (thanks to the sesame seed and oil).
The fresh yuzu juice and ginger shavings also lend themselves to a nice energy boost, making it the perfect midday snack to help you power through the rest of your day.
If you couldn’t tell, I did a brief (yet profitable) stint as a restaurant server at a Japanese restaurant during college. I sold countless seaweed salads back in the day! Now, I’m writing a blog post on it… Funny how things come full circle, right?
Is Dried Seaweed Vegan?
When it comes to dried snack foods, most vegans tend to be skeptical (and understandably so). The majority of dried snack foods contain dairy derivatives, animal-derived “natural flavoring,” and other questionable ingredients.
Typically, dried seaweed is sold by itself without any added seasoning. However, you may also find some dried seaweed that’s been lightly dusted with sea salt or chili powder!
Can Vegans Eat Algae?
Although algae and seaweed are completely different types of plants, they’re often lumped together in the broader category of “marine vegetables.” Like seaweed, though, algae is 100% vegan! So, feel free to eat your heart out.
While I’m on the topic, I think that everybody should consume algae as a regular part of their diet. The flavor may take a little bit of getting used to, but if you cook it the right way, algae can make for a delicious soup or salad topping.
Algae is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids as well as natural vitamins and minerals. For vegans, this makes it a healthy alternative to consuming fish.
Vegans Should Eat More Seaweed: Here’s Why
Although seaweed isn’t quite as nutrient-dense as algae, it’s a lot more palatable. Most importantly, seaweed is a superfood and has many of the most vital nutrients that our body needs to survive and thrive!
Here’s a quick visual breaking down the top vitamins and minerals in seaweed:
|Minerals In Seaweed||Why They’re Awesome|
|Vitamin A||Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that’s best-known for contributing to healthy eyesight. Additionally, vitamin A supports healthy organ function, metabolism, and boosts your natural immunity.|
|Vitamin B-12||Seaweed is one of the few non-animal food sources that’s naturally rich in B-12! Vitamin B-12 helps your body produce red blood cells and even protects your very DNA.|
|Vitamin C||Everybody knows that vitamin C is healthy for you! Without it, you could end up turning into a scurvy pirate. Jokes aside, though, vitamin C is one of the best vitamins for boosting your body’s natural immune function. With the ongoing pandemic, you’ll need as much of this as possible!|
|Potassium||Potassium helps with nervous system functions and aids in muscle contraction. Consuming small amounts of potassium throughout the day can help with muscle cramping and improve endurance. That’s why many athletes consume potassium-rich foods or Gatorade prior to a game.|
|Iron||Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Without iron, we can develop a condition called anemia that comes from a low blood cell count. Women, especially, need to consume more iron due to their reproductive cycles.|
|Calcium||We’ve been told since we were kids to “Drink our milk” to get calcium. However, seaweed (along with other veggies) are also great plant-based calcium source. Calcium’s main job is to promote healthy bone growth and development. It also helps our bones remain strong and heal faster when injured.|
|Iodine||Iodine is vital for thyroid health and function. It naturally decreases as we age, which is why it can be hard to maintain a healthy weight the older we get. Consuming seaweed is a great way to support healthy thyroid function and can even help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.|
|Magnesium||Magnesium is an essential trace mineral that helps us maintain high energy levels. It also supports healthy heart and muscular function.|
Long story short, if you’ve never tried seaweed, you really should give it a try. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up loving it!
While fresh greens are always the best way to consume your vitamins and minerals, some people find that taking a daily supplement is easier to keep up with.
To learn more about trace minerals and why they’re so important, check out one of my recent posts on the best vegan trace minerals!
What Are The Best Types Of Seaweed?
Many people are unaware, but there are actually multiple types of seaweed. Although all seaweed is healthy, some varieties are healthier than others…
The healthiest, most nutrient-dense seaweed varieties include:
- Arame seaweed (typically dried and ground)
- Dulse seaweed (loaded with potassium)
- Hijiki seaweed (excellent source of iron)
- Kombu seaweed (good source of fiber, which aids with digestion)
- Nori seaweed (contains lots of vitamin C)
- Wakame seaweed (contains tons of iodine)
The Best Vegan Seaweed Meals
Most people have no problem accepting how healthy seaweed is. The problem is that most people don’t have the first idea of how to cook and prepare seaweed.
While you can eat it straight-up, the flavor can be a bit strong for first-timers.
Plus, seaweed tastes great when it’s paired with other foods! Here are some of my favorite quick-and-easy vegan seaweed meals.
1) Vegan Sushi Burrito
Sushi burritos are as simple as it gets. Take a large sheet of dried seaweed, layer it with sticky rice and your favorite veggies, then roll it into a cone-shaped burrito!
To add an extra kick, dip it in soy sauce, chili paste, or a bit of spicy wasabi paste.
2) Sauteed Seaweed and Tempeh
Chop up a bit of firm tempeh and lightly saute it in a pan with pieces of seaweed. Throw in some fresh veggies to make a complete stir-fry dish! Season with your favorite vegan sauce and spices and enjoy.
3) Seaweed Salad
Seaweed salad is incredibly healthy and delicious. You can make it as simple or complicated as you want. Here’s a simple vegan recipe for seaweed salad:
Not only is seaweed 100% vegan but it’s also incredibly nutritious. There are multiple different types of seaweed, each with its own unique flavor and health benefits.
Go ahead, give it a try! It’s a great way to add a salty, savory, umami kick to any dish.
One of my favorite ways to eat seaweed is in a vegan wrap mixed up with fresh rice, beans, and bell peppers. To see my favorite vegan raw wraps, keep on reading here!