The Best Vegan Sushi Is Coming to All 50 States—and We’re Here for It
Over the past year, the brand that many say makes the best vegan sushi out there has been available only at select restaurants and Whole Foods stores, leaving the rest of us salivating. But soon Ocean Hugger Foods, which makes the much-talked-about Ahimi vegan tuna sushi, will expand to all 50 states, the company announced this week.
A new partnership with DOT Foods, the nation’s largest food redistributor, will enable Ocean Hugger Foods to get its tomato-based tuna to restaurants and grocery stores across the country. Late last year, Ahimi was added to the menu at 12 Blue Sushi Sake Grill locations and has since spread to smaller chains across the country, including North Shore Poké Co. and Aloha Poké Co. But with this new partnership, Ocean Hugger will be able to satisfy everyone’s vegan sushi cravings.
Ethical and healthier alternatives to fish are certainly needed. According to researchers at MIT, mercury levels in tuna are 10 million times higher than in seawater, and UC Davis scientists found that 25 percent of fish tested had plastic in their guts. But toxicity is just part of the problem; the fishing industry wreaks havoc on the environment.
Commercial fishing is depleting our oceans of various species. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 32 percent of the world’s fish stocks are being exploited beyond sustainability. Also, much of the pollution in the ocean is due to commercial fishing. A 2018 study published in Scientific Reports found that a whopping 46 percent of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—an area of concentrated plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas—consisted of lost or discarded fishing nets.
Fishing is responsible for the suffering of over a trillion animals a year. We don’t know exactly how many fish are killed per year, because they are not counted as individuals but weighed in tons. Additionally, an estimated 20 percent of all fish caught by commercial fisheries is unwanted “bycatch.” And many other aquatic animals, such as sea turtles, seals, whales, porpoises, and dolphins, often get caught in fishing gear and die.
Scientists have established that, like other animals, fish experience pain and pleasure. But fish are given no protection from abuse. In fact, a Mercy For Animals’ investigation into a slaughter facility exposed fish being skinned alive.
Luckily, companies like Ocean Hugger Foods have stepped in with amazing alternatives to fish. Ocean Hugger is also developing new varieties: Unami and Sakimi. And if they are anything like Ahimi, they will also have The New York Times raving. If you want to give the company’s signature product a try, look for Ahimi sushi near you. And if you’re ready to further reduce or eliminate your consumption of fish, check out these “seafood” and vegan sushi recipes on ChooseVeg and chat with a meal planner who can help personalize a healthier, more ethical diet.