Soy sauce is an aromatic Asian condiment composed of soybeans, wheat, salt and water. Although generally vegan-friendly, certain brands contain lactic acid derived from animal sources that could potentially pose issues.
Traditional soy sauce production relies on fermenting and brewing ingredients for months; however, large manufacturers also employ chemical processes which take days rather than months and more likely contain animal components.
How is soy sauce made?
Soy sauce is a salty brown liquid condiment from East Asia that has been consumed for over 2000 years. Soybeans serve as its main component, while an intricate fermentation process adds other flavors and aromas through fermentation to create this tasty condiment. Soy sauce’s characteristic umami taste often brings to mind fish or animal by-products, yet soy sauce production doesn’t necessarily involve these elements.
Soy sauce is made up of four primary ingredients – soybeans, wheat, salt and water. After boiling the soybeans, their mixture is fermented using lactic acid bacteria and yeasts for several months to add its signature savory taste. Although technically vegan-friendly, other brands may add shrimp or fish as part of the production process for soy sauce production. Soybeans can also be used in making soy milk and tofu which also are both produced from this vegetable source.
Modern soy sauce production employs chemical hydrolysis to break down soybean proteins quickly and accelerate fermentation, producing the same flavor profile. While this method may not be as healthy, some manufacturers still rely on this approach while many have transitioned back to traditional fermentation processes.
If you’re uncertain whether or not soy sauce is vegan-friendly, traditional recipes are your best bet for an animal-free product. Some brands may contain other ingredients that don’t fit with vegan diets like sugar or bone char, so always read the label before purchasing soy sauce.
There are certain brands of soy sauce which have been widely criticized for conducting animal testing, so they should be avoided whenever possible. Furthermore, eating too much soy sauce could result in adverse side effects such as increased sodium consumption or weight gain.
Soy sauces are typically vegan-friendly and usually include water, soybeans, salt and koji mold (a fungal culture that helps the soybeans ferment), with any additional ingredients being added directly onto this fungal culture for production of soy sauce.
Chemically produced soy sauce
Soy sauce is an indispensable condiment used in many Asian cuisines, and its umami flavor cannot be replicated by other ingredients. Soy sauce’s umami quality cannot be duplicated elsewhere and makes it the go-to sauce in dishes like chow mein, miso ramen, and others. Unfortunately, soy sauce often contains ingredients which aren’t vegan-friendly such as wheat (not suitable for people avoiding gluten) as well as animal products like anchovies and bonito flakes; therefore it’s essential that labels be read carefully in order to select soy sauce that meets these criteria.
Traditional soy sauce is composed of fermented soybeans, wheat and salt; sometimes additional ingredients like kokumi and shio (a seaweed-based seasoning), provide it with its unique taste. People allergic to wheat or gluten can still enjoy soy sauce with tamari being the typical gluten-free alternative made up of soybeans, salt and other non-wheat ingredients; make sure that when purchasing any gluten-free or vegan-safe tamari.
Soy sauce that has been chemically processed instead of fermented naturally may also be available for purchase. Hydrochloric acid can be used to break down soy proteins quickly, shortening fermentation from months to several days. Furthermore, this production method may include additional ingredients derived from animals – E631 or E627 is often listed among them – including flavor enhancers made up of substances found in pork meat, fish or shellfish.
If you’re buying chemically processed soy sauce, check for “hydrolyzed protein” on the label to ensure it is vegan-friendly. Also look out for any animal-derived ingredients, like lactic acid (often used in fermentation processes). While generally considered safe for vegans, its production could involve bacteria from milk or dairy sources that might not be vegan-safe.
Kikkoman, one of the most beloved soy sauce brands in America, has come under scrutiny for allegedly testing its products on animals. Although Kikkoman announced they would stop testing in 2015, many vegans continue to boycott this brand altogether.
Hydrolyzed soy sauce
Soy sauce is an integral component of Asian cuisine, typically composed of fermented soybeans, wheat, water and salt. While traditionally vegan-friendly, some companies utilize chemical processes that speed production while saving money, producing soy sauce that may contain animal products. When purchasing soy sauce it is important to read labels carefully as more ingredients listed increases the odds that it contains something vegans should avoid.
As part of their fermentation process, many soy sauces contain added sugars and coloring agents – neither of which should necessarily be considered harmful, though they could present issues for vegans following an all-vegan diet. It would be wiser for vegans to choose high quality non-fermented soy sauces with only basic ingredients for optimal consumption.
If you are wondering whether a soy sauce is vegan-friendly, look out for words “hydrolyzed” on its label. This indicates that its production involved using chemical rather than traditional fermentation processes; chemically produced soy sauces tend to have harsher flavors and cloudier textures than their fermented counterparts; additionally they often have more additives than their fermented counterparts. If chemical additives concern you further, try opting for low-sodium versions of soy sauce condiments.
Many people mistakenly assume the savory flavors found in soy sauce come from fish or meat byproducts; however, these flavor enhancers can actually come from naturally-occurring compounds found in plants known as glutamates and nucleotides – creating unique yet familiar tastes in soy sauce.
While most soy sauces are vegan-friendly, certain varieties contain animal products in the form of disodium insonate or E631 and E627 color enhancers derived either from animal sources such as pigs or fish or from plant sources like tapioca starch. If this concerns you, opt for lower sodium soy sauces.
As a vegan, it’s best to steer clear of soy sauce made with animal products. Thankfully, most major brands of soy sauce do not utilize animal by-products in its production but instead utilize an ingredients mix consisting of wheat, soybeans, water, salt and lactic acid in traditional brewing process and then aged. This creates a deep umami flavor which adds depth and depth to any dish; you should also search out soy sauces with lower sodium contents to better suit your diet.
Lactic acid bacteria are used in the soy sauce brewing process to give its distinct flavor. While they can come from animals, most companies rely on naturally occurring plant fermentation bacterial strains as sources of their lactic acid bacteria. It is essential that labels disclose whether any lactic acid bacteria comes from animal sources; one of the largest US soy sauce producers recently experienced an embarrassing public relations disaster due to past animal testing practices.
Soy sauce should only contain animal products when choosing it as part of an animal-free meal, and its label should indicate it has been produced without Glyphosate, a common weed killer used on soy crops that has also been linked with neurotoxin contamination and liver damage. In order to protect yourself, always opt for certified organic and non-GMO brands when making this selection.
Another key element to keep in mind when purchasing soy sauce is the type of sweetener used in its manufacturing. Although most soy sauces use natural ingredients, certain brands do use sugar made from animal bones – something which could pose problems for vegans. Therefore, when looking for vegan-friendly soy sauce options it would be wise to seek one made with organic sugar as opposed to preservatives or artificial coloring agents.
Kikkoman gluten-free soy sauce makes an excellent Asian-inspired soy sauce alternative, made from wheat, soybeans and water; free from gluten, kosher certification and nitrates – an ideal replacement for regular soy sauce in stir-fries! Additionally, they also offer low sodium options which could fit better into restricted diets.