Stepping into the soy sauce debate stirs up a lot of questions. Is soy sauce vegan friendly? The answer is debatable but as with all the other foods it's best to err on the side of caution. The tricky thing with soy sauce is the fermenting process. There is some gray area between products used during the fermentation process in items such as beer or soy sauce and what appears on the ingredients label. However, there are some safe non-fermented options like Tamari gluten free soy sauce. Skipping the fermentation process means no possibly hidden animal products. This all purpose seasoning works as a great substitute for vegan soy sauce!
Soy Sauce Ingredients
Using Kikkoman soy sauce ingredients label as a reference everything looks all clear. The ingredients are as follows:
- Sodium Benzoate (less than 1⁄10 of 1% as a preservative)
Everything looks great, right? Although some soy sauces may contain fish products in the ingredients, these are easy to spot on the label. The difficulties arise in sorting out brewing methods and if anything involved in the process is derived from animal products.
Lactic acid bacteria are commonly used in fermentation. Typically lactic acid is derived from plants such as beets. However it is possible that it is also derived from animal products.
What's The Problem?
Kikkoman and other companies like Shiso do mention the importance of lactic acid bacteria during their brewing process but it is unclear whether or not this is derived from animal products. It should also be mentioned that Kikkoman has had a history of testing on animals, although they had announced that animal testing would stop years ago. Their website does not currently state specifically anywhere that they no longer test on animals, however.
So, is soy sauce vegan? The truth may lie with the manufacturers and the answer is possibly different for different companies. The only way to be 100% confident if a soy sauce is vegan is to contact the manufacturers and ask them directly. Although, this is typically a difficult feat in itself.
Vegan Soy Sauce Recipe
The soy sauce debate may be up in the air, but never fear! Making your own soy sauce vegan is easy with this simple recipe:
- 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
- 2 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder(optional)
- Dash black pepper
- 1 cup water
- Salt to taste
- Whisk ingredients together and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer until desired consistency is reached. The sauce will thicken the longer it simmers.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Store in a clean jar and refrigerate for future use.
Explore Your Options
There are some other alternatives to soy sauce like coconut aminos. It sounds strange, but actually works as a great all purpose seasoning. The Coconut Company even makes a teriyaki sauce. Another good option for coconut aminos is BRAGG's organic all purpose seasoning.
Whether you're comfortable with using soy sauce in your vegan lifestyle, prefer to make your own, or you're using a substitute like coconut aminos there are plenty of options available to you. Try them out and you'll get that salty seasoning you're craving one way or another. There's always the option of trying your luck with contacting manufacturers as well! Living a vegan lifestyle can feel frustrating when trying to solve the mysteries of what is and isn't vegan but the rewards are worth the effort.