Is soy sauce vegan? – 2023

Certain things are found in almost every household in America, such as bread, tahini, and soy sauce. I bet you have all three in your pantry.

I had always assumed that every bottle of soy sauce is plant-based, simply because of the name. I was slightly shocked to find out this is not always the case. Although it isn’t surprising that the sauce contains other ingredients than soybeans. The good news is that vegans can still enjoy this classic condiment – just know what to pay attention to. Read on to find out which soy sauces are vegan-friendly and what to avoid.

How is soy sauce made?

Originating from Asia, soy sauce is a condiment used everywhere in the world – the most used types of soy sauce are light and dark sauces. To make traditional soy sauce, you only need 4 basic ingredients. These are the following:

  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Water
  • Salt – Ideally, sea salt.

Making the condiment is quite simple. But while the process is pretty straightforward, it is time-consuming and can take months. This is because soy sauce needs to be fermented after being brewed. 

However, big manufacturers tend to use a method called acid hydrolysis instead. This chemical production is cheaper and less time-consuming as it takes a few days instead of several months. 

Is soy sauce vegan?

Some people call soy sauce fish sauce, as it has a fishy taste. But as you can see, the recipe of a traditional soy sauce does not call for any animal-based components and is 100% vegan-friendly.

Unfortunately, some manufacturers like to add unnecessary animal products to their sauces, making them no longer vegan. Here are some ingredients to look out for.

  • Flavor Enhancers – It isn’t uncommon to see flavor enhancers (most commonly E631 and E627) listed as ingredients in soy sauces. E631 is often derived from pigs and fish, while E627 can be sourced from sardines.
  • Lactic acidLactic acid is commonly used to help with the fermentation process. This bacteria is a gray area for vegans as it could be sourced from plants or animals. There is no way of knowing unless you check with the manufacturer.
  • Sugar – Sugar is often found in sweet soy sauces. While sugar is not technically non-vegan, some strict vegans still choose to avoid it. This is because refined sugar is commonly filtered through bone char in the USA.

Is Kikkoman soy sauce vegan? List of vegan soy sauces

Kikkoman is one of the biggest and most known soy sauce brands in the States, and for a good reason. All of their sauces are absolutely delicious and made from vegan ingredients. Sadly, the company is not as innocent as it seems.

As some older vegans might know, they did practice animal testing for a long time. While experimenting on animals was stopped in 2015, some vegan folks have decided not to support the brand and no longer consume the famous Kikkoman soy sauces. If you are one of them, here are my favorite soy sauces to try instead.

vegan soy sauce Tamari

Frequently Asked Questions

Amoy soy sauces aren’t recommended for vegans as they contain several controversial ingredients such as E627, E631, and lactic acid.

Most dark soy sauces are vegan-friendly, but it’s always good to check the ingredient list to be safe.

La Choy soy sauce contains very few ingredients and is suitable for vegan folks. List of ingredients: WATER, HYDROLYZED SOY PROTEIN, SALT, CORN SYRUP, CARAMEL COLOR, POTASSIUM SORBATE

Maggi soy sauce is safe for plant-based people. They have stated that all the additives in the sauce are of plant or synthetic origin.

It is easy to find vegan-friendly sweet soy sauces. However, these sauces often contain refined sugar – an ingredient that strict vegans avoid.

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Cruelty Free Reviews

CrueltyFreeReviews serves as a digital guide and a handy manual for new vegans and experienced plant-based veterans alike. Founded back in 2018 by a group of plant-based enthusiasts, we are dedicated to a vegan lifestyle and animal rights. With our team having more than 10 years of plant-based guidance experience by now, we want to give back to the vegan community and support anyone on this journey.