Is Soy Sauce Vegan? Unveiling The Secrets Of Soy Sauce


Exploring the world of vegan cuisine can be full of surprises, and one such revelation might just be hiding in your kitchen cabinet.

Almost everyone loves to sprinkle soy sauce over sushi or stir it into stir-fries. Now, here’s something to ponder: is this popular condiment truly vegan-friendly?

Soy sauce is typically vegan, made from soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. However, non-vegan concerns include animal-derived additives, cross-contamination, and rare traditional recipes using animal products.

In this article, we will explore the intriguing world of soy sauce, unraveling its mysteries to determine if it aligns with vegan principles.

Unveiling The Secrets Of Soy Sauce

How Soy Sauce is Made

  • Ingredients: The primary ingredients of soy sauce are soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. These are all plant-based, which initially suggests a vegan-friendly profile.

Fermentation Process

  • Preparation: Soybeans are soaked and boiled, while wheat is roasted and crushed.
  • Koji Cultivation: The cooked soybeans and wheat are mixed with a fermentation culture, usually a type of mold like Aspergillus oryzae.
  • Brining: This mixture, now called koji, is combined with a saltwater solution (brine) to form a mash called moromi.

Vegan Considerations

  • Basic Ingredients: The fundamental ingredients of soy sauce are vegan.
  • Non-Vegan Additives: Some manufacturers might add non-vegan ingredients for flavor or preservation, although this is not common.
  • Cross-Contamination: In facilities that process non-vegan items, there’s a potential for cross-contamination, although this risk is generally low.

Health Benefits

  • Rich in Umami: Soy sauce is a good source of umami, the fifth basic taste, which enhances the flavor of various dishes without adding calories.
  • Contains Antioxidants: Certain compounds in soy sauce, like isoflavones, have antioxidant properties.
  • Micronutrients: It provides small amounts of micronutrients, including manganese and vitamin B3 (niacin).

Health Risks

  • High Sodium Content: The most significant health risk of soy sauce is its high sodium content, which can contribute to hypertension and cardiovascular issues if consumed in excess.
  • Gluten Content: Traditional soy sauce contains wheat, posing a risk for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Gluten-free options are available, however.
  • Allergens: Soy is a common allergen, and those allergic to soy products should avoid soy sauce.
  • Chemical Additives: Some cheaper, non-traditionally made soy sauces might contain harmful chemical additives or preservatives.

Factors That Can Render Soy Sauce Non-Vegan

Non-Vegan Additives

Some soy sauce brands may include additives or preservatives that are derived from animal sources. For example, certain flavor enhancers or stabilizers might not be vegan-friendly.


In manufacturing facilities that process both vegan and non-vegan items, there’s a potential risk of cross-contamination. While this doesn’t change the inherent ingredients of the soy sauce, strict vegans might avoid products with potential cross-contamination with animal products.

Use of Animal Products in Processing

In rare cases, some traditional methods of producing soy sauce might involve animal products. For instance, historically, some recipes for soy sauce included small amounts of fish or other animal products to add flavor. 

Modern soy sauce production does not practice this practice, but artisanal or locally produced varieties may.


Is Kikkoman Soy Sauce Vegan?

Kikkoman soy sauce is vegan-friendly, as it is produced without the use of animal products or fish. Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce is certified by the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) and contains no artificial additives, preservatives, colors, or flavor enhancers.

Is Tamari Soy Sauce Vegan?

Tamari soy sauce is generally considered vegan, as it is made from soybeans, water, and salt, and does not contain wheat or other animal products.

Is Aldi Soy Sauce Vegan?

Aldi’s soy sauce, particularly the Dark Soy Sauce from Aldi’s Asia Specialities line, is generally considered to be vegan. The product is listed in Aldi’s guidance for vegans, indicating that it is suitable for a vegan diet


While soy sauce is generally vegan due to its primary plant-based ingredients of soybeans, wheat, salt, and water, certain factors can render it non-vegan.

These include the addition of animal-derived additives, potential cross-contamination during manufacturing, and rare traditional methods incorporating animal products.

For vegans, it’s crucial to scrutinize labels and possibly contact manufacturers to ensure the soy sauce aligns with vegan principles.

Understanding these nuances helps maintain a vegan diet without compromising on the rich, umami flavor that soy sauce brings to various cuisines.

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