Is Miso Soup Vegan?


Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup comprising a base stock, miso paste, and various other ingredients depending on the recipe.

It has become more popular in Western countries as well, where many people have adopted a plant-based or vegan diet. As such, you may wonder whether miso soup suits a diet that excludes animal foods.

This article examines whether miso soup is considered vegan.

While a vegetarian diet excludes meat, it may allow eggs, fish, and dairy products. A vegetarian diet that allows fish is called a pescatarian diet.

A vegan diet excludes animal-derived products as much as possible. This includes meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products like cheese, butter, and milk.

Depending on the ingredients used to make miso soup, it may be vegan or vegetarian.

Miso soup gets its name from its content of miso paste, a salty and flavorful Japanese condiment derived from fermented soybeans. To make the paste, soybeans are mixed with salt and a mold called koji. It may also include barley, rye, rice, or other grains (1, 2).

Miso paste is generally considered vegan. However, the same may not hold true for miso soup.

The base ingredient in miso soup is dashi, a family of Japanese stocks. Some miso soup is made with katsuobushi dashi, a stock containing katsuobushi, or bonito flakes. These non-vegan flakes are made of smoked skipjack tuna (3, 4).

Niboshi dashi is another type of miso soup that uses dried Japanese anchovies instead of tuna in its stock. As such, it’s likewise not vegan (5).

Furthermore, some American and European versions of miso soup may dissolve miso in chicken or fish stock, neither of which are vegan.

If you follow a pescatarian diet, some types of miso soup could potentially fit into your diet. If the miso soup doesn’t use chicken stock or contains fish-derived ingredients, there’s a better chance it’s vegan.

In fact, some miso soup is made with kombu dashi, which is a stock derived from kelp, a type of seaweed (6).

Still, some miso soup may contain other animal-derived ingredients. For example, some versions may include shrimp, clams, or pork (called tonjiru, which means pork soup in Japanese).

SUMMARY

Many varieties of miso soup contain fish-derived ingredients, especially the base stock. However, some are made only with plant-based ingredients, making them vegan.

Miso soup is often primarily made with plant-derived ingredients, though it may also contain ingredients derived from fish or other animals.

Some common vegan ingredients in miso soup include:

  • miso paste
  • tofu
  • vegetable stock
  • soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • carrots
  • scallions
  • mushrooms
  • snap peas
  • green beans

Some non-vegan ingredients to look for in certain varieties of miso soup include:

  • niboshi, derived from Japanese anchovies
  • katsuobushi, or bonito flakes, derived from skipjack tuna
  • pork
  • clams
  • shrimp
  • fish or chicken stock

The best way to determine whether your miso soup is vegan is to read the ingredient list or ask the waitstaff if you’re dining out.

SUMMARY

Many of the common ingredients of miso soup are vegan. However, some varieties contain animal-derived ingredients.

Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup that’s also popular in many Western countries. It’s typically made with a base stock, miso paste, tofu, soba noodles, and various vegetables.

Many varieties of miso soup are vegan, unless the recipe uses fish-derived ingredients, in which case it could suit a pescatarian diet or vegetarian diet that allows seafood. Some miso soup may also contain animal foods like pork.

The best way to determine whether your miso soup is vegan is to read the ingredient list or ask the waitstaff if you order it at a restaurant.



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