Is Soy Sauce Vegan: A Guide to Decode

  • Evidence based
  • Fact checked
Is soy sauce vegan?

Is soy sauce vegan-friendly | Making soy sauce | ingredients | Nutritional value | soy sauce non-vegan | vegan soy sauce brands

Soy sauce is a staple ingredient in many Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisines. It adds depth of flavor and umami to dishes like stir-fries, sushi, and marinades.

However, people on a vegan diet who don’t consume animal products might wonder if soy sauce is vegan. This article aims to provide clarity and assist you in making an informed decision regarding the suitability of soy sauce in your vegan diet.

Is soy sauce vegan-friendly?

Yes, most soy sauces are considered vegan-friendly [1]Vegan Friendly: Is Soy Sauce Vegan?. Traditional soy sauce does not contain any animal products or byproducts. However, some soy sauces may contain animal-derived ingredients, making them not suitable for vegans. 

How is soy sauce made?

Fermented soy sauce is traditionally made by fermenting a mixture of soybeans, wheat, or other grains with mold or yeast to develop a rich and complex flavor profile. 

However, modern manufacturers have moved towards a faster and cheaper process called hydrolysis, which produces a less intense flavor. 

Some hydrolyzed soy sauces are mixed with a small amount of traditionally fermented soy sauce for a better taste. Nevertheless, some manufacturers still use traditional fermentation methods for a more nuanced and flavorful soy sauce. 

Despite the different production methods, soy sauce remains a widely used condiment with diverse applications.

Ingredients in regular soy sauce

There are a variety of soy sauces on the market, such as gluten-free soy sauce, low sodium, and organic. Nevertheless, here is a list of ingredients that are found in regular soy sauce:

  • Water
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Salt
  • Fermenting agent

Note: Some manufacturers may add citric acid to their vegan soy sauce recipe. However, as this acid is derived from citrus fruits, vegans do not need to be concerned about it.  

Nutritional value of soy sauce

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) [2]U.S. Department of Agriculture: Soy sauce made from soy and wheat (shoyu), 100g of Soy sauce made of soy and wheat contains the following nutrients:  

  • Water: 71 g
  • Calories: 53 kcal
  • Protein: 8.14g
  • Total fat: 0.57 g
  • Sugar: 0.4 g
  • Dietary fiber: 0.8 g
  • Calcium: 33 mg
  • Iron: 1.45 mg
  • Sodium: 5490 mg

What makes soy sauce non-vegan?

Soy sauce is usually vegan-friendly, but there are some exceptions. Various factors contribute to the non-vegan status of soy sauce. Here are the most significant factors that can make soy sauce non-vegan:

1. Ingredients in soy sauce

Although traditional soy sauce is made by fermenting soy beans, salt, wheat, and yeast or mold cultures, mass-produced soy sauce often includes artificial colors and preservatives. 

This deviation from traditional production methods is what makes some soy sauces non-vegan. Below are the non-vegan ingredients in soy sauce to look out for:

Note: Some soy sauces, such as Amoy Reduced Salt Soy Sauce, Amoy Light Soy Sauce and Lee Kum Kee Sweet Soy Sauce, contain flavor enhancers like E631 and E627, which can be derived from pigs and fish or tapioca starch. 

2. Fermentation process

Sometimes, manufacturers include hidden animal-derived ingredients during the fermentation process. These additional ingredients are often not listed on the label, making it difficult for vegans to know for sure whether a soy sauce is truly vegan or not.

3. Animal testing

Animal testing is another factor to consider when determining whether a soy sauce is vegan or not. Some brands may test certain ingredients on animals, making their soy sauce non-vegan. 

While it can be challenging to find out if a particular brand tests on animals, it doesn’t hurt to ask. For instance, Kikkoman, a popular soy sauce brand, faced criticism in the past for animal testing.

Is Kikkoman soy sauce vegan?

While Kikkoman doesn’t use any animal products in their soy sauce, they are called out for testing some of their products on animals.

However, in 2015, they announced that they are now cruelty-free and no longer test their products on animals. Thus, it is safe to say that their soy sauce is vegan. However, this controversy makes it a difficult choice for vegans.

List of vegan soy sauce brands

Here are some soy sauce brands that vegans can consume without any concerns:

Vegan soy sauce brandVariant(s) included
Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauceless salt, organic, and gluten-free tamari
Ocean’s Halo No Soy Soy-Free Sauce less sodium 
San-J Tamari organic and reduced-sodium
La Choy Soy SauceLite
Lee Kum Kee Soy Saucedark soy sauce
Yamasa Soy Sauceless salt and organic tamari
Aloha Shoyutamari 


Choosing the right soy sauce can make a big difference, both in terms of flavor and health. When selecting a soy sauce, opt for brands that adhere to traditional production methods and use natural ingredients.

Whether you’re using soy sauce as a condiment for stir-fries or as a dip for vegan-friendly snacks, making a wise choice can elevate your culinary experience.


Similar Posts