Is Miso Soup Vegan?
Miso soup is a very popular traditional Japanese soup that is made of a base stock, miso paste, and various other ingredients that vary depending on the recipe. Miso soup has become more popular in Western countries too, although 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.
A BRIEF HISTORY ON THE ORIGIN OF MISO SOUP
The name miso soup originated from the name of its primary ingredient called miso paste. Miso paste is a salty and flavorful Japanese condiment that is derived from fermented soybeans. To make the miso paste, soybeans are properly mixed with salt and a mold called koji. It may also include barley, rye, rice, and other grains.
The base or primary ingredient in miso soup is dashi, which is one of the important families of Japanese stocks. Some miso soups are made with katsuobushi dashi, which is a stock containing katsuobushi, or bonito flakes. These non-vegan flakes are made of smoked skipjack tuna.
Niboshi dashi is another popular type of miso soup that uses dried Japanese anchovies instead of tuna in its stock. As such, it’s likewise not vegan. Some Americans and Europeans make their own versions of miso soup by dissolving miso in chicken or fish stock, neither of which are vegan.
Note: Following a pescatarian diet, some types of miso soup do not potentially fit into the diet. But if the miso soup is prepared without using chicken stock or contains fish-derived ingredients, then it is a vegan diet.
Another type of miso soup is called Kombu, which is made with kombu dashi, a stock derived from kelp, a type of seaweed. Other types of miso soup may also contain other animal-derived ingredients. For example, some versions may include shrimp, clams, or pork (called tonjiru, which means pork soup in Japanese).
INGREDIENTS USED IN MAKING MISO SOUP
Miso soup is generally or primarily made with plant-derived ingredients, although it may also contain ingredients derived from fish or other animals. Some common vegan ingredients used in making miso soup include:
- Miso paste
- Vegetable stock
- Soba (buckwheat) noodles
- Snap peas
- Green beans
Some non-vegan ingredients used in making miso soup include:
- Niboshi (derived from Japanese anchovies)
- Bonito flakes(derived from skipjack tuna)
- Chicken stock.
One of the best ways to determine whether a miso soup is vegan or not vegan is to read the ingredient list or ask the wait staff if you’re dining out.
Note: Miso is a fermented condiment, especially popular in parts of Asia, though it has also made its way to the Western world. Although miso is still unknown to many countries, individuals who are familiar with it have most likely consumed it in the form of Japanese miso soup.
Read Also: Is Hibachi Healthy
OTHER INGREDIENTS USED IN MAKING MISO SOUP
Although miso is traditionally made from soybeans, certain varieties use other types of beans or peas, and other ingredients may also be used to make it and these ingredients include rice, barley, rye, buckwheat, and hemp seeds, all of which affect the color and flavor of the final product.
IS MISO SOUP VEGAN
Yes, miso soup may be vegan. This depends primarily on the ingredients used in making the miso soup, although it may also be vegetarian. A vegan diet is one that completely excludes animal-derived products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products like cheese, butter, and milk. While a vegetarian diet is one that excludes meat, it may include eggs, fish, and other dairy products. A vegetarian diet that include fish is called a pescatarian diet.
Note: Miso paste is generally considered vegan. However, the same may not hold true for miso soup.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF MISO SOUP
Miso soup is incredibly nutritious and it’s linked to a variety of health benefits, which includes:
1. Miso soup helps with better digestion and a stronger immune system because the traditional Japanese condiment used in making it consists of a thick paste made from soybeans that have been fermented with salt and a koji starter. The starter usually contains the Aspergillus oryzae fungus.
2. The popular Japanese miso paste can be used to make sauces, spreads, and soup stocks, or to pickle vegetables and meat.
3. The varieties made from soybeans are considered to be sources of complete protein because they contain all the essential amino acids needed for human health.
4. The fermentation process used to produce miso makes it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients it contains.
5. The fermentation process in miso soup also promotes the growth of probiotics, beneficial bacteria that provide a wide array of health benefits. A. oryzae is the main probiotic strain found in miso.
The food’s flavor is generally described as a combination of salty and umami (savory), and its color can vary between white, yellow, red, or brown, depending on variety.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF MISO SOUP
Miso soup is rich in several nutrients. Miso contains a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. One ounce (28 grams) generally provides you with the following:
Total calories: 56
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Sodium: 43% of the RDI
- Manganese:12% of the RDI,
- Vitamin K: 10% of the RDI
- Copper: 6% of the RDI
- Zinc: 5% of the RDI.
Miso soup also contains smaller amounts of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus, and is a source of choline (1, 2).
Note: Miso is also very salty. Thus, if you’re watching your salt intake, you may want to ask your health care practitioner before adding large quantities to your diet.
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. Many of the common ingredients in 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.
Miso fermentation helps improve the body’s ability to digest and absorb foods. The condiment also contains probiotics that can promote gut health and digestion. Regular miso consumption may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. However, more research is needed and 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.