We’ll cut straight to the chase-
Yes, soy sauce is vegan and vegans can eat soy.
Soy sauce is traditionally made from 4 ingredients:
- Fermented soybean paste
- Roasted grain
- Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds
Traditonal soy sauce is made in these steps:
- Soaking– the soybeans are soaked in water and boiled until cooked.
- Roasting– the wheat is roasted to perfection and then crushed.
- Koji culture– this is an equal mix of roasted wheat and and boiled soybeans mixed to form a grain mixture. An Aspergillus spore is added to the mixture to begin fermentation.
- Brewing– a specific amount of salt brine is added to the mixed grain culture for wet fermentation. (Dry fermentation is done with coarse salt.) The Aspergillus mold eventually breaks down the soybeans and wheat- this is what gives the soy sauce it’s color.
- Pressing– the fully fermented mix is pressed into cloth line containers to separate solids from liquids. The solids are used as animal feed or fertilizer. The liquid goes through more processing.
- Pasteurized– the soy sauce is heated high enough to kill any remaining molds or bacteria.
- Sold– now is when the soy sauce can be directly bottled and sold or stored to age.
Is soy sauce plant based?
Yes, soy sauce is plant based. There are no animal derived ingredients or processing methods used for making soy sauce.
Does soy sauce contain fish?
No, traditional soy sauce doesn’t contain fish or any other animal product. It only contains soybeans, wheat, brine and Aspergillus mold for fermentation.
Is there alcohol in soy sauce?
Most naturally fermented soy sauces contain about 1-2% alcohol.
According to the Kikkoman website,
“Soy Sauce is a naturally brewed product like wine or beer. It is made from soybeans, wheat, salt and water. During the fermentation process, the wheat starches are broken down to sugars and part of the sugar is changed into alcohol. The alcohol adds to the aroma and overall flavour of our Soy Sauce. This product contains approximately (1.5% – 2% alcohol by volume).”
Why is soy sauce so salty?
Soy sauce is salty because of brewing step- it’s either brewed and fermented with brine or coarse salt.
Soy sauce has so much salt added because the salt is antimicrobial. Once the soy sauce is fermented, salt is added to stop the growth of microbes or bacteria.
Can soy sauce kill you?
Scarily enough, yes, soy sauce can kill you.
What would happen if you drank a whole bottle of soy sauce?
A 55 year old woman from Japan suffered from depression. She drank a large amount of soy sauce and died.
A 41 year old man ingested a water salt mixture that contained almost 1/3 cup of salt and died.
NPR.org has figured out the ratio of salt that could kill you:
“A salt dose ranging from 0.75 grams to 3 grams per kilogram of body weight can kill someone. A tablespoon of salt weighs about 15 grams, in case you’re wondering.”
Flavoring your food with soy sauce is fine- chugging a bottle is decidedly not.
Is it OK to eat soy everyday?
Yes, it’s okay to eat soy everyday in moderate amounts. Stick to whole, unprocessed soy products (like tofu, edamame and soy milk) and try to stay away from soy isoflavone supplements and foods made with textured vegetable protein and soy protein isolate which can be found in protein powders and energy bars.
Why is soy bad for females?
It was thought for a while that eating soy can cause breast cancer. This is actually a myth- soy doesn’t cause breast cancer and it isn’t bad for females.
Isoflavones, which are plant estrogens, can be found in soy. Luckily, food sources of plant estrogens don’t contain high enough levels to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Is it OK to eat tofu everyday?
Yes, you can absolutely eat tofu every day. Try to stick to the recommended 3 servings.
Is soy sauce gluten-free?
No, traditional soy sauce is made with roasted wheat.
If you’re looking for gluten free soy sauce, try Tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos. (We use Braggs instead of soy and absolutely love it. There is way less salt, no gluten and, in our opinion, more flavor.)
Is Worcestershire sauce vegan?
Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains 3 main ingredients:
- Red onions
So no, Worcestershire sauce is not vegan. But, you can grab vegan Worcestershire sauce from Amazon or make your own!
Is soy sauce bad for you?
Even though soy sauce is high in sodium- it’s not as high as table salt.
There are both benefits and risks to soy sauce:
- Regulates fat content in the blood stream
- Promotes the production of good cholesterol
- High salt content
- Too much sodium in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Stick to soy sauce that is made naturally and doesn’t contain any extra additives or coloring.
Is teriyaki sauce vegan?
Teriyaki sauce is usually made from soy sauce, sake, sugar and ginger. Some brands add other ingredients, like honey, which would make it not vegan.
Check the ingredients of store bought teriyaki and ask in restaurants if they have the ingredient list.
Is oyster sauce vegan?
Oyster sauce is made with real oysters, so no, it isn’t vegan.
These are the ingredients from the Kikkoman brand oyster sauce:
‘WATER, SUGAR, SALT, OYSTER JUICE CONCENTRATE (OYSTER [MOLLUSCAN SHELLFISH], WATER, SALT), MODIFIED CORN STARCH, CARAMEL COLOR, YEAST EXTRACT, OYSTER EXTRACT (MOLLUSCAN SHELLFISH).’
You can get vegetarian oyster sauce from Amazon.
Or, make your own vegan oyster sauce at home!
Is fish sauce vegan?
Fish sauce is literally made from fermented fish so, no, not vegan.
This is an easy sauce to whip up at home though- check out the recipe from Feasting at Home 🙂
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