Wondering about the vegan status of miso soup? Here’s everything you want to know…
Is Miso Soup Vegan?
The short answer: it depends.
Miso soup is traditionally made with dashi* (soup stock) which contains bonito flakes. Because bonito is a fish (similar to tuna), this means that traditional miso is not safe for vegans or vegetarians. However, many restaurants are not making miso with the traditional stock and are either using instant stocks or omitting the fish portion, likely as a means of cost saving.
If you’re out at a restaurant that serves miso soup, the best option is asking if the stock they use is vegetarian or if the stock contains fish. Even though we follow a vegan diet, vegan and vegetarian are often used interchangeably in Asian cultures, so we find that it’s the easiest way to ask.
*Dashi can be made with or without fish flakes, but the traditional recipe contains fish.
Non-Vegan Miso Soup Example
Here’s an example of an ingredient statement of miso soup that’s NOT vegan-friendly.
It’s from Kikkoman’s Instant Miso Soup
Powdered Red and White Miso (Soybeans, Rice, Salt), Dehydrated Tofu (Soybeans), Dehydrated Seaweed, Modified Food Starch, Powdered Bonito (Fish), Monosodium Glutamate, Dehydrated Green Onions, Powdered Hydrolyzed Soy Protein (Soybeans), Powdered Kelp, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Succinic Acid.
You’ll notice the Powdered Bontio which is fish.
Vegan Miso Soup Ingredient Example
Vegan miso soups have similar ingredient statements, except without the fish! Here’s what an ingredient statement looks like from Edward & Sons.
Organic Freeze-dried Miso (Organic Soybeans, Organic Rice, Koji Culture [Aspergillus Oryzae], Sea Salt), Organic Freeze-dried Tofu (Organic Soybeans, Calcium Sulfate, Nigari [Magnesium Chloride]), Organic Onion Powder, Organic Green Onions, Organic Parsley, Wakame Seaweed.
Honestly, when you’ve got seaweed, who needs fish?
Vegan Miso Soup Packet Brands
Luckily, there are plenty of options on the market today for vegans.
We’ve made a complete list of vegan miso soup packets & brands here.