Does Vegetarian Tuna Actually Work?

Gretchen Lee Bourquin
The Partnered Pen
Published in
3 min readDec 29, 2023


A Budget-Friendly Way to Try Something New

Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash

Having been economically challenged for the bulk of my life, one staple of my diet has been tuna fish. But too much tuna can be concerning. There’s the risk of mercury exposure, and debates raging about how tuna are caught. For the most part, I will leave tuna ethics for another day.

I was intrigued when I came across the idea of vegan tuna salad. I am not vegan, or even vegetarian, nor do I anticipate adopting this diet any time soon. But I have considered scheduling vegetarian days, so I’ve kept an eye out.

Normally, I shy away from one food pretending to be another; like cauliflower pretending to be rice or chicken. Since I am not a big fan of cauliflower, this is a hard no for me. The most alarming substitute I have ever seen is someone trying to pass off watermelon as ham. Blasphemous, I say. It’s disrespectful to the watermelon and the ham. Why ruin a perfectly good watermelon?

I wanted to know what mimics tuna. Turns out it is chickpeas, (aka garbanzo beans) Vegan tuna salad recipes use vegan mayonnaise. Vegan mayo is far more expensive than standard mayo, and since I am not vegan and don’t know if I would like it, I decided to go with regular mayo.