Is Soy Sauce Vegan?

When you first go vegan, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed trying to learn which staple ingredients are vegan and which are not.

Is Soy Sauce Vegan?

Even after years of following a plant-based diet, we still find ourselves occasionally wondering ‘is this vegan?’ 

When it comes to soy sauce, the answer to that question isn’t necessarily simple.

This is one of those ingredients where you have to take into consideration the brand as well as things like added flavorings. 

So, without further ado, let’s look into whether or not soy sauce is vegan and why. 

What Is Soy Sauce? 

If you’re not familiar with soy sauce, you might be wondering what we’re talking about. Soy sauce is a Chinese liquid condiment in which the main ingredient is soy bean paste. 

Soy sauce is typically used to add salty, umami-like flavor to rice and noodle dishes as well as a variety of other foods.

There are a few different variations of soy sauce available from most food retailers, including light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and extra-dark soy sauce.

This sauce can also be labeled as thick or thin since the desired consistency may vary depending on the dish.

Research has shown that soy sauce originated in China over 2,000 years ago, so it’s safe to say that this sauce is truly a staple of Chinese cuisine.

There is evidence to show that soy sauce was used during the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). 

Is Soy Sauce Vegan? 

So, here’s the million dollar question: is soy sauce vegan? Well, that depends. 

For the most part, it’s pretty safe to assume that soy sauce is vegan.

That’s because the main ingredients in the traditional soy sauce recipe are soybeans, water, and wheat, all of which are suitable for vegans. 

This is great news for all our vegan sushi lovers out there as well as any vegans who enjoy a little added saltiness in their meals.

However, before you go out and grab the first bottle of soy sauce you find in the store, there are a few things you need to bear in mind. 

Firstly, some soy sauce brands use meat or fish-based ingredients to add more flavor to their soy sauce.

One example of an added soy sauce flavoring that could potentially be animal-based is E631, so make sure to read the ingredients list on a soy sauce bottle carefully before buying it to make sure this enhancer isn’t included. 

If you want to be absolutely sure that your soy sauce is vegan, we recommend erring on the side of caution and looking specifically for the words ‘vegan’ or ‘suitable for vegans’ on the label.

Some manufacturers will simply use the vegan symbol (the letter V enclosed in a circle) to identify a product as vegan, so keep an eye out for this, too. 

Another way to ensure that you only buy vegan soy sauce is to simply memorize the brands that produce plant-based soy sauce. We’ll be giving you some recommendations now, so stay tuned!

Vegan Soy Sauce Brands 

Vegan Soy Sauce Brands 

Do you want to avoid standing around and reading labels on all the soy sauce bottles at the store?

In that case, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with some of the best vegan soy sauce brands out there. 

Some of the top vegan soy sauce brands include: 

  • Lee Kum Kee’s Soy Sauce (Light, Dark, Sweet, and Double Deluxe) 
  • Amoy’s Soy Sauce (First Press Dark)
  • Kikkoman Soy Sauce (Regular, Less Salt, Sushi and Sashimi, and Gluten-Free Tamari)
  • Sainsbury’s Soy Sauce 
  • Tesco Soy Sauce 

Vegan Soy Sauce Substitutes 

Assuming you’ve been to your local grocery store and discovered that the only soy sauce stocked there isn’t vegan, you have a few options. 

First of all, you can order most of the vegan soy sauces listed above online, so unless you need your soy sauce right away, there’s always time to find a vegan alternative. 

However, if you’re in a rush and need something that will mimic the taste of soy sauce in the absence of vegan soy sauce options, here are some vegan substitutes you can use instead: 

  • Tamari
  • Salt 
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Liquid aminos 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Soy Sauce Healthy? 

Since some people choose to go vegan due to health reasons, you might be wondering whether soy sauce is healthy as well as plant-based. 

Soy sauce is both low-calorie and low-carb, so in this respect, it can be considered relatively healthy. Dark soy sauce may also have some antioxidant properties.

However, it has high sodium levels. In fact, one tablespoon of soy sauce contains ⅓ of your daily recommended sodium intake.

With that being said, soy sauce is typically consumed in small amounts, so it doesn’t damage your health when added to meals in accordance with the recommended portion size. 

Does Vegan Or Non-Vegan Soy Sauce Taste Better? 

Some people think that soy sauce tastes better with the addition of meat or fish-based products, hence why certain brands include ingredients like E631.

However, traditional (vegan) soy sauce is delicious and, most importantly, has the animal rights and environmental benefits that drive most people to go vegan in the first place.

Where Can I Buy Vegan Soy Sauce?

Since most soy sauce is vegan, you should be able to find a vegan soy sauce at most grocery stores.

You can also buy vegan soy sauce online from large-scale retailers like Amazon or through the brand or manufacturer’s own website. 

Final Thoughts 

In general, soy sauce is vegan because the traditional soy sauce recipe only contains soybeans, water, and wheat (You might also want to check out How To Cook Bulgur Wheat). 

However, some brands will include enhancers like E631 for added flavor, and these may be derived from animal products like meat or fish (Check out Do Vegans Eat Fish?), so you should always read the label if you don’t already know for sure that the brand is vegan. 

Most of the time, though, soy sauce is 100% plant-based, so you can continue to enjoy this delicious sauce now that you’re vegan. 

Clara Howie
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