One of the things that I miss about eating meat is the tuna sandwich.  That was always one of my favorites, and I enjoyed them frequently….that is, until I learned the dangers of eating tuna. Once I was informed, I felt it was the responsible thing to do to give it up, just as I would have given up smoking cigarettes, had I ever been a smoker, when I learned about the dangers of lung cancer.  (Continuing to do something after you know it is really bad for you is self-destructive and irresponsible.)

Mercury poisoning is a huge problem in products that contain tuna. The health effects resulting from consumption of methylmercury for adults are considerable and may include central nervous system damage, ataxia, paresthesia, hearing loss, diminishing vision, loss of sensation to extremities, and loss of consciousness leading to death.

No thanks. I’ll pass.

I read one study that concluded that given the average level of mercury pollution found in canned tuna,  the  EPA suggests  that the  average nine year old would exceed the EPA limit eating any more than a can of tuna every 43 days.  Previous studies going back nearly 20 years found levels of mercury that were bad, but not as bad as the ones found now. The problem of mercury in tuna appears to be getting worse and worse.


I developed my own vegetarian (or vegan, optional) tuna salad.

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One should not eat this tuna salad with the expectation that it will taste exactly like tuna salad, because it does not….but it’s close….and it is also delicious.  I’ll get to the recipe in a sec.

There are all kinds of vegetarian and vegan tuna brands on the market.  Each one that I’ve tried has tasted absolutely foul!  Just horrible.  They are oily and have a strong flavor that doesn’t even remotely resemble tuna.  Yuck.  Not at all recommended.

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I started thinking about this problem, and about the things that I enjoy in a tuna salad, and I came up with a recipe that runs a close second to the real thing.  The key ingredient was right there in my cupboard.  (Do people actually say, “cupboard” any more?) It was Trader Joe’s organic garbanzo beans.

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Why garbanzo beans?  First and foremost, I chose them for their flavor…or lack thereof.  They are mild and unassuming.  I figured they would just absorb whatever sauces or spices that were put on them, much in the same way that pasta does…and  I was right.  The tuna salad tastes like the OTHER ingredients…the dill weed and the celery, et al.  THAT is what I loved about it….not just the dead fish that it contained.

Health Benefits of Garbanzo Beans

  • Digestive Tract Support
  • Unique Supply of Antioxidants
  • Decreased Cardiovascular Risks
  • Better Regulation of Blood Sugar
  • Increased Chances for Satiety and Decreased Caloric Intake
  • High Protein Content
  • High Fiber Content

That said….

Here is my….

Vegetarian Version of Tuna Salad:

1 can Trader Joe’s (or other brand) organic garbanzo beans

2 TBL. lemon juice

3 TBL. either vegan or regular mayonnaise (or amount to taste preference)

( I use regular mayonnaise made with canola oil…or my own homemade.)

1/4 small onion diced

1 TBL fresh dill weed or 1.5 tsp. dried

1 stalk celery diced

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Chopped boiled egg (optional)

Directions:  Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.  Transfer to serving bowl.  Mash loosely with fork.  Add remaining ingredients.  Mix lightly.  Serve on whole wheat toast with heirloom tomatoes and leaf lettuce and/or arugula, if you want to add a little bite to your bite.

So…it is creamy, crunchy, savory, salty, bright (from the lemon and dill) and really delicious.

As I said before, it does not taste exactly LIKE tuna…so don’t expect it to.  However, that is not necessarily a bad thing, in this case, because when you put it on a sandwich, it is delicious, and many people don’t even notice that it isn’t tuna.

It’s that good.