Is Eel Sauce Vegan? Lets Swim Into it

Is Eel Sauce Vegan? Lets Swim Into it

Eel sauce, a popular condiment in Japanese cuisine, has gained attention among vegans due to its name and potential ingredients. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of Eel sauce, explore its traditional recipe, and determine whether it aligns with vegan principles.

We’ll also look at some vegan alternatives and learn how to make a delicious homemade vegan Eel sauce. So let’s get started!

The Allure of Eel Sauce

Eel sauce, also known as Unagi sauce, is a sweet and savory glaze typically served with dishes like Unagi Don (grilled eel rice bowl) and sushi rolls. Despite its name, the sauce doesn’t actually contain eel; instead, it gets its name from the dishes it complements. Traditionally, Eel sauce is made with soy sauce, sugar, and mirin, which gives it a luscious umami flavor.

Understanding Veganism

Before we explore the vegan-friendliness of Eel sauce, let’s briefly understand what veganism is. Veganism is a lifestyle and philosophy that seeks to avoid all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty. Vegans refrain from consuming animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and even ingredients derived from animals, like gelatin or honey.

Examining Eel Sauce Ingredients

To determine if Eel sauce is vegan, we need to scrutinize its ingredients. The core components, soy sauce, sugar, and mirin, are typically plant-based. Soy sauce is made from soybeans, while sugar is derived from sugarcane or sugar beets. Mirin, a type of sweet rice wine, doesn’t involve animal products in its production.

Is Eel Sauce Vegan-Friendly?

Based on the ingredients commonly used in Eel sauce, it appears to be vegan-friendly. However, there might be variations in commercial Eel sauces that could include additives or preservatives with non-vegan origins. It’s always a good idea to check the label or inquire with the manufacturer for certainty.

Vegan Alternatives to Eel Sauce

For those who prefer to avoid Eel sauce altogether, there are excellent vegan alternatives available. Hoisin sauce or a homemade plum sauce can provide a similar sweet and tangy flavor profile, making them perfect substitutes for Eel sauce in various dishes.

How to Make Vegan Eel Sauce at Home

Creating a vegan version of Eel sauce at home is surprisingly easy! You’ll need soy sauce, brown sugar or a sweetener of your choice, mirin (or rice vinegar for a non-alcoholic option), and a touch of cornstarch for thickness. Simply combine these ingredients in a saucepan, simmer until the mixture thickens, and voilĂ ! You have a delightful vegan Eel sauce to enjoy.

Delicious Dishes with Vegan Eel Sauce

Now that you have your homemade vegan Eel sauce, let’s explore some delectable dishes you can create with it. Drizzle it over a veggie-filled sushi roll, marinate some tofu or tempeh before grilling, or use it as a glaze for roasted vegetables. The possibilities are endless, and the sweet umami flavor will undoubtedly elevate your dishes!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while traditional Eel sauce is generally considered vegan-friendly, it’s essential to be cautious with commercial versions that might have non-vegan additives. Thankfully, there are delightful vegan alternatives and simple homemade recipes to satisfy every palate. Whether you choose to indulge in traditional Eel sauce or try its plant-based counterparts, exploring the flavors of Japanese cuisine can be a delightful and compassionate experience.


  1. Q: Can I find vegan Eel sauce in stores? A: Yes, some specialty stores offer vegan Eel sauce made without any animal-derived ingredients.
  2. Q: Is homemade vegan Eel sauce as flavorful as the traditional version? A: Absolutely! Homemade vegan Eel sauce can be equally delicious and flavorful.
  3. Q: What are other vegan sauces I can try in Japanese dishes? A: You can experiment with teriyaki sauce, ponzu sauce, or spicy mayo made with vegan mayonnaise.
  4. Q: Are there vegan alternatives to Unagi Don? A: Yes, you can substitute grilled tofu or eggplant for the eel in a vegan Unagi Don.
  5. Q: Is Eel sauce the same as oyster sauce? A: No, Eel sauce and oyster sauce are different condiments. While Eel sauce is usually vegan, oyster sauce contains oyster extracts and is not vegan.
Ryan Griffiths