I have yet to taste some of the vegan meat, cheese and butter replacements, which I’ve promised myself I’d do, however reluctantly. You can’t criticise what you haven’t tried, can you? But I’ll certainly think twice before sampling the latest achievement in the vegan bandwagon market, not least because of its name.
Nestle was, as I (and probably you too) naively thought, the global behemoth that produced chocolate, and that not in an entirely ethical way. It turns out they diversify easily. Vrimp – you read that correctly – is Nestle’s new product made from peas and seaweed (are we SURE seaweed are plants?) that is supposed to be fake shrimp. It’s nicely shaped and brilliantly pink as I see in the pictures – so I’m not certain if in the ‘raw’ version it’s grey. Or whether it needs to be deveined.
Vrimp follows other Nestle creations already out in the helpless market, just as brilliantly named Vuna, the fish substitute, and self-explanatory vEGGie. Vegans of all lands, rejoice! Or perhaps not quite all lands yet as the vrimp will be first only available to the lucky, lucky Swiss and Germans.
Apart from the crime against the language, several questions come to mind and the one about the taste of a pea-seaweed mix is the last. Harvesting that seaweed and producing the impossible concoction will certainly have a bigger environmental impact than buying sustainable cold water prawns or ASC certified, UK farmed king or tiger ones.
Plus, I can’t believe that in order to make that bizarre product palatable, an enormous number of additives and flavourings won't need to be added, which turns the vrimp into ultra-processed food. Which is my main beef (pun intended) with all the fake meat and fish, healthwise.
And the whole fake food industry is raking it in, trying to persuade the vegans and vegetarians that they can have their cake and eat it, instead of going without certain foods – which is what it should all be about.
So it’s no vrimp for me, thank you – I’ll stick to real shrimp, making sure I buy them responsibly.
Because it is such a firm favourite in so many dishes (thus so devious of Nestle)! Simple is good, like spicy prawns with garlic and lemon or, with a little more effort, prawns with tomato stew. Just plain rice on the side will do with those dishes.
Whole prawns can be the stars of a paella or fideua on a special occasion, though both those dishes are surprisingly easy to make at home. You could try hot butterflied prawns or Japanese ebi fry for something a little different. Or my recent favourite – prawn Creole.
Cooked peeled frozen prawns are a great staple too and there are a number of ways you can use them in, apart from a cocktail. Put them into a prawn pasta bake or use them in tacos. Make a cabbage and prawn Vietnamese salad bowl.
You can make prawn gyoza, or prawn burgers and they will be delicious. Nestle can keep their vrimps – and perhaps coat them in dairy-free chocolate? Eurgh.
Stay well and well clear of ultra-processed foods and ingredients, whatever your diet!