Is Kimchi Vegan?

Is Kimchi Vegan?

Have you recently gone vegan and want to know if you can eat kimchi? Maybe you are looking for plant-based meals and want to know if kimchi is one of them.

Or are you curious and want to know more? Whatever the reason is that brought you here, we have the answers for you! Finding out if kimchi is vegan or not can be tricky, especially if you are new to veganism.

You head online to find out some answers but are met with conflicting and contradicting information that leaves you unsure where to turn or who to trust. Frustrated and disappointed, you wonder if you will ever know if kimchi is vegan.

Well, no more! Today, we are here with the answers you need. Keep reading to find out if kimchi is vegan and everything you need to know about it!

What Is Kimchi?

Before we dive in, let’s have a quick recap for anyone that needs it. Kimchi is a Korean dish made with salted and fermented vegetables. The dish is often based around cabbage and will feature seasonings like chili, garlic, ginger, and spring onions. 

The fermented vegetables are often added to stews and soups. Their flavors work well on their own or are added to meat and carb-based meals. It’s not unusual to find a meat stew with kimchi in it or to see it served with rice. 

Kimchi is often made at home, but you can also purchase it in-store. This is usually available in glass jars or pots in the refrigerated section of the store.

You might need to cook the kimchi yourself, or it can be added to dishes while you cook. Now that we have established what kimchi is, let’s move on to see whether it is vegan or not. 

Is Kimchi Vegan?

Generally, kimchi is not vegan. Although the majority of the dish is vegetable based, the vegetables are usually fermented in a fish sauce and shrimp paste. While this helps to heighten the flavor, it does mean that kimchi is not suitable for vegans! 

Although there is no meat in kimchi, the fish sauce and paste contain animal products and byproducts, making it unsuitable for vegans. This is true of store-bought and homemade kimchi. 

Can I Make Vegan Kimchi?

Can I Make Vegan Kimchi?

Although kimchi usually isn’t vegan, you can make vegan kimchi yourself! To do this, you will need to substitute the fish sauce and shrimp paste for vegan options.

You can purchase vegan fish sauce which is an easy replacement and is usually widely available. For the shrimp paste, you can make a vegan paste that serves as a fine alternative. You do this using nori, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, onion, and some sugar.

Combined, the flavors replicate shrimp paste well and compliments the vegan fish sauce nicely! There are plenty of vegan recipes online that you can try, including our favorite here.

Can I Buy Vegan Kimchi?

Yes, you can also purchase vegan kimchi! If you don’t want the hassle of making kimchi yourself, then you can purchase it.

Vegan kimchi can be purchased online or in most stores. You typically find vegan alternatives in well-stocked grocery stores or whole food/health stores. 

Whichever you choose to shop at, make sure you check the label carefully to ensure it is vegan. Ideally, you want the kimchi to be labeled vegan so that you know it is safe for you to eat. 

Otherwise, make sure that there is no fish sauce or shrimp paste listed. Keep an eye out for any other animal byproducts that might have been added in. Usually, it is just the fish-based ingredients, but it is always better to check! 

The same applies to any allergies you might have. Read the label carefully to check that the kimchi is safe for you to consume.

You will also want to check the cooking instructions too. Check whether you need to cook the kimchi first so you know what to expect when you get home!


And there you have it, everything you need to know about kimchi! Although kimchi isn’t vegan, there are vegan alternatives out there!

Failing that you can make kimchi yourself. By swapping out the fish sauce and shrimp paste for vegan alternatives, you can create your own tasty kimchi that can be enjoyed on its own or with other dishes! 

Brandon White
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