Is Soy Sauce Vegan?

Soy sauce is a widely used condiment in many cuisines, but is it vegan? Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients and manufacturing process to determine if soy sauce is suitable for those following a vegan diet.

The Ingredients of Soy Sauce

Soy sauce typically consists of four primary ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. However, not all soy sauces are created equal, and some varieties may include additional ingredients such as preservatives or flavor enhancers. It is essential to carefully read the label and check for any animal-derived components to ensure its vegan status.

Fermentation and Brewing Process

Soy sauce is produced through a fermentation and brewing process that involves the cultivation of mold on soybeans and wheat. This mold, known as koji, breaks down the proteins into amino acids, resulting in the creation of the sauce’s distinct flavor. This process does not involve the use of animal products, making the base of soy sauce vegan-friendly.

Varieties of Soy Sauce

While traditional soy sauce is vegan, it’s important to be aware that various soy sauce brands may offer different types or flavors that could contain non-vegan ingredients. Here are some common variations:

  • Tamari: A gluten-free soy sauce made exclusively from fermented soybeans, which makes it suitable for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
  • Shoyu: A Japanese soy sauce that combines soybeans and wheat in the fermentation process.
  • Dark Soy Sauce: A thicker and richer version of soy sauce, often used for coloring or marinades, which may contain other ingredients such as molasses for sweetness.

Common Non-Vegan Additives

In some cases, soy sauce may contain non-vegan additives or flavorings. Here are a few ingredients to watch out for when selecting a vegan-friendly soy sauce:

  • Fish Sauce: Some soy sauces, particularly those marketed as “stir-fry” or “sweet and sour” varieties, may contain fish sauce as an ingredient. Check the label carefully to avoid these types if you follow a vegan diet.
  • Honey: Certain sweetened or teriyaki-flavored soy sauces may include honey as a sweetener. Vegans typically avoid honey, so it’s essential to read the label or choose unsweetened options.

How to Verify if Soy Sauce is Vegan

While the information provided above is a general guideline, it’s always best to take a closer look at the specific brand and read the label or contact the manufacturer. Some brands even label their soy sauce as “vegan” to make it easier for consumers to identify suitable choices.

A Quick Reference Table

If you’re unsure about a particular brand of soy sauce, you can refer to this handy table to help identify whether it is vegan:

Soy Sauce BrandVegan
Brand AYes
Brand BNo (contains fish sauce)
Brand CYes


In most cases, soy sauce is vegan-friendly, especially the traditional varieties. However, it’s essential to be mindful of variations, additives, and brands that may include non-vegan ingredients. Checking labels, contacting manufacturers, or opting for products labeled as “vegan” can help ensure you make suitable choices while enjoying this delicious condiment.