Eco-Friendly Vegan Caviar

Nov 30, 2009

Eco-Friendly Vegan Caviar

Caviar from endangered Russian sturgeon/Photo: Sean Gallup, Getty Images

During the holidays people pull out all kinds of fancy foods, like caviar. However, the "best" caviar is so extremely eco-unfriendly that new green versions are growing in popularity.

Black caviar is the roe of sturgeons, with the most prized coming from the endangered Beluga of the Caspian, Black and Adriatic seas. Because of its endangered status, the US banned the import of Beluga caviar in 2005, although it was partially lifted in 2007. Red caviar, which comes from the roe of endangered North Atlantic salmon, has its own set of problems.

These issues are part of the reason that people are turning to (literally) green caviar, which is actually a kind of seaweed. Jim O'Brien of James Cook University tells Discovery News that the vegan delicacy has a "peppery" taste and high nutritional value. This makes it appealing to the Japanese market, where it's known as Umibodo, and in "foodie" cultures in Europe and Australia.

Another seaweed based product is marketed under the name "Cavi-Art®". Danish Inventor Jens Møller was trying to do an experiment with seaweed and enzymes, and instead created little the caviar shaped vegetable product. It comes in black, red and yellow lumpfish flavors, as well as a faux-salmon that is just as red as the real deal.

Paramount Caviar, also sells red, black and yellow seaweed caviar, touting numerous health benefits of the product. From reducing cholesterol to counteracting obesity and making your bones and teeth stronger, it's a wonder every school in the nation isn't serving it during snack time!

In fact, I suspect the new vegetarian caviar might even win over some people who get oooghed-out by the fishiness of the real deal. Plus it has all of the bursting-bubble mouth fun of fish roe, none of environmental guilt -- who can resist?