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If you’re new to veganism, you likely have a lot of questions about what’s vegan and what’s not. As a vegan, your diet changes radically. Foods you previously paid no attention to are suddenly on your radar, and you need to figure out what’s deemed safe by the vegan community.
One food that gets brought up a lot is seaweed. Most non-vegans would never dream of eating seaweed, but veganism opens the doors to new possibilities, many of which are markedly healthier for you.
So, what’s the skinny on seaweed? We’re here to answer that question and more. So join us as we dive deep into its discussion and whether it’s a vegan-friendly food.
What Is Seaweed?
“Seaweed” is a collective term for countless marine plants and algae that grow in the rivers, oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water.
Some seaweed is microscopic, like phytoplankton. This species stays suspended in a water column, which provides the basis for most aquatic food chains. On the other hand, some seaweed is quite huge, such as the giant kelp that grows in the rich seaweed “forests,” with their roots resembling that of a tree.
Most seaweed, however, is medium-sized, with red, brown, green, and black colors. They often wash up on beaches and coastlines and can be seen almost everywhere in such places. The term “seaweed” is actually a misnomer because weeds are plants that spread so widely that they can damage the habitats they occupy.
Free-floating and fixed “weeds” in the ocean are not only essential for countless marine life as a form of both food and habitat, but they also offer numerous benefits to people.
In fact, seaweed is rich in vitamins, fiber, and minerals and tastes delicious. For some 1,500 years, Japanese people have wrapped a mixture of glutinous rice, raw fish, and other types of ingredients in a kind of seaweed called nori to create delicious sushi rolls.
What’s more, a lot of seaweed contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents. Indeed, seaweed has many well-known medicinal benefits that have existed for centuries.
The Romans used to use seaweed to treat burns, rashes, and various wounds. There’s even some evidence that suggests ancient Egyptians might have used seaweed to treat breast cancer.
In fact, certain types of seaweed have powerful agents that help combat cancer, and researchers hope that these medicinal properties will eventually help treat leukemia and malignant tumors. Although dietary soy has long been considered the cause of the low incidence of cancer diagnoses in Japan, this health indicator is now being attributed to diets that include seaweed.
The sheer versatility of algae and seaweed have even assisted in economic growth. Of the many uses of seaweed in various manufacturing, it serves as effective binders in commodities ranging from toothpaste to fruit jelly, as well as softeners that are popular in organic skincare and cosmetic products.
So, Is Seaweed Vegan?
Seaweed is 100% vegan. And there are actually many different types of seaweed, all of which are vegan. Let’s look at the different kinds of seaweed you may come across as you consider this beneficial plant as part of your vegan diet.
Spirulina is a green, protein-rich algae. In fact, it has high levels of vitamin B12, making it very suitable for vegans. Spirulina is usually available as a powder. What’s more, spirulina is rich in vitamin A and iron. Therefore, it is sometimes used in the treatment of anemia and malnutrition.
Many people regularly take spirulina in either tablet or powder form to help keep their heart, brain, lungs, digestive system, and liver healthy.
Nori seaweed contains a lot of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B12. This makes it an excellent dietary supplement for vegans because some vegans do not have enough vitamin A and B12 in their diets.
This is a light green, purplish seaweed. Its iron content is higher than 100 grams of sirloin steak, at only 8 grams! It can be added to salads, dressings, smoothies, and soups to create a light, salty taste. In fact, it can bring the taste of the sea to any dish.
Dulse is often said to be the best seaweed to add to various diets, especially in terms of supplementing iodine intake. About one tablespoon of Dulse per day can provide the ideal amount of iodine.
This dark blue and almost black seaweed is famous for its use in miso soup and is rich in essential nutrients such as magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc. In addition to using it in miso soup, you can also add it to delicious dishes or as a salad slice to increase the sweetness and silky texture.
The problem with kelp is that it contains excessive amounts of iodine. A moderate amount of iodine is good for the thyroid, but kelp has caused iodine poisoning in some people. If you have eaten “zero-calorie noodles,” this is another name for kelp noodles.
It is said that hijiki has 14 times the calcium content of milk and is rich in fiber, so it sounds good, but some food safety agencies will definitely recommend not to eat it. This is because hijiki contains high levels of arsenic. If you choose to consume hijiki, you will first need to soak it to reduce its rough texture.
This seaweed, also known as Irish moss, has a neutral taste, and its subtle floral fragrance makes it a common choice for adding sauces and gravies. You may have heard of carrageenan. It is a product of carrageenan.
However, there are some controversies regarding the safety of carrageenan. Therefore, if you plan to consume it, be sure to understand this.
Is Seaweed a Good Choice for Vegans?
Absolutely! Just be sure that you consume the right kind of seaweed. As discussed above, some types of seaweed contain chemicals that aren’t good for your health and are likely best avoided to ensure optimal wellness.
If you’re interested in learning about more vegan foods and products, be sure to visit our Info page here. We show you which restaurants are vegan-friendly and discuss recipes and vegan alternatives to popular dishes and more.