Soy sauce is a staple of Asian cuisine. With its complex flavors of umami, saltiness, bitterness and sweetness, soy sauce is an incredibly versatile condiment.
Saying this, soy sauce also comes in different flavors which are more suitable for certain recipes. Generally, soy sauce is made of grain, brine and fermented soybeans, which means that it doesn’t contain any animal ingredients.
But is soy sauce really vegan? We take a closer look at this delicious condiment and find out what soy sauce is really made of.
Is Soy Sauce Vegan Friendly?
Yes, soy sauce is suitable for vegans and a vegan diet as this sauce is only made with plant-based ingredients. However, there is an ongoing debate about additives and preservatives in soy sauce which may not be vegan.
Are There Any Non-Vegan Ingredients In Soy Sauce?
Although high-quality soy sauce is made with traditional production methods for the fermentation process, some brands add preservatives and colors to their products.
These additives aren’t always obvious immediately, and you may not even see them on the ingredients list. Here are a few soy sauce ingredients that may not be vegan.
Lactic acid can be made either with plant sources or animal sources. However, the majority of soy sauce is made with plant-based lactic acid. If you are not sure what type of lactic acid is in your soy sauce brand, then check with the manufacturer.
When you check the ingredients list of soy sauce, you may spot flavor enhancers, such as E627 or E631. E631 is made from fish or pigs, which means that soy sauce containing this flavor enhancer is not vegan. Saying this, E631 can also be made with tapioca starch. If your soy sauce has E627 in it, then it’s likely not vegan as this flavor additive is made from sardines.
What Is Soy Sauce?
Soy sauce is one of the most widely available condiments in the world. Originally, soy sauce comes from China and it quickly became popular in East Asia and across the globe.
It may not appear to be an ancient condiment recipe, but soy sauce is thousands of years old. Researchers found that this soybean liquid has been used already in the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD).
What Is Soy Sauce Made Of?
The traditional soy sauce recipe is made with only four ingredients, which are
If your favorite soy sauce is made with these ingredients, then it is definitely vegan as none of these ingredients are animal product.
This means that you can also easily make soy sauce yourself at home. Here is a delicious, homemade soy sauce recipe.
However, if you buy soy sauce from a grocery store, you will need to check the label for the ingredients, as many soy sauce brands add non-vegan preservatives and other additives.
How Is Soy Sauce Made?
Soy sauce has a long history and over the centuries the production methods of this tasty condiment have changed significantly.
Generally, soybeans are brewed with salt, wheat and water. The traditional soy sauce methods use roasted wheat and salt water in the brewing process. While this process is relatively simple, the fermentation process that follows takes a minimum of five months.
This means that your soy sauce is a product that requires a long production cycle, so if you want to make soy sauce at home, you’ll need quite a bit of patience.
Is Soy Sauce Healthy?
There is a big debate whether soy sauce is really good for you. There have been studies that identified a component in soy sauce that can lead to the creation of carcinogens in soy sauce.
However, these carcinogens haven’t been found in fermented soy sauce, and as most store-bought soy sauce is fermented, you don’t have to worry about this.
On the other hand, researchers found that dark soy sauce contains a range of great antioxidants, such as vitamin E and vitamin C.
These are said to have a positive effect on cardiovascular and heart diseases. Scientists also believe that soy sauce has anti-allergic properties thanks to the lactic acid bacteria in unpasteurized soy sauce.
Just looking at the basic ingredients of soy sauce, it contains a lot of salt which can be a health concern when you eat a lot of soy sauce.
Soy Sauce Alternatives
If you are not sure whether your soy sauce is fully vegan, then there are a range of great alternatives. You can use them as a vegan replacement for soy sauce in your Asian dishes.
Tamari is one of the best soy sauce substitutes. It has a darker color than soy sauce but contains less salt. Both tamari and soy sauce are brewed and fermented but they differ in their ingredients. Tamari is made without wheat which makes it suitable for a gluten-free diet.
Tamari is typically vegan and gluten-free. You can use this delicious sauce when you need the familiar soy sauce flavor in your dish but you want less salt.
If you want a gluten free and soy-free alternative to soy sauce, then coconut aminos are your best option. They are made from the sap of the coconut plant, so aminos don’t contain any animal byproducts.
While coconut aminos have a slightly syrupy texture, their taste resemble that of soy sauce. You can also find a range of other aminos that resemble the amino acids in soy sauce.
If you just want the salty flavor in your dish, then you can also use simple table salt. While it doesn’t have exactly the same flavor as soy sauce, it gives your Asian dishes a salty kick.
If you make soy sauce yourself or the soy sauce of your choice is made with the simple basic ingredients, then you can be sure that your sauce is vegan. It’s still a good idea to check the ingredients and find out what your soy sauce is made of.