The Reason Worcestershire Sauce Isn't Vegan

A hand holds a bottle of Worcestershire sauce
A hand holds a bottle of Worcestershire sauce - Thomas Faull/Getty Images

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Few people can pronounce Worcestershire sauce correctly (it's wuh-stuh-sher, by the way), and the contents of this popular condiment are not very self-explanatory, either. You might use its distinctly savory and tangy flavor to elevate stews, dipping sauces, meats, and more, without actually knowing where that taste comes from. If you're one of the many who love the rich, dark, and complex flavors of this sauce, you ought to know what it's made of -- especially if you're cooking for vegetarians or vegans.

Worcestershire sauce's rich umami flavor comes from ingredients like vinegar, molasses, onion, garlic, tamarind sauce, and -- believe it or not -- anchovies. While some brands opt for sardines instead, the sauce's rich taste is usually thanks to these very flavorful fishies. The brand that invented Worcestershire, Lea & Perrins, has used anchovies since it got its start centuries ago.

Anchovies taste very fishy and salty, but once they're cooked down with the other flavorful ingredients, that fishy taste mellows out, creating an intensely savory taste sensation that you might not associate with preserved fish. Anchovies may be part of why Worcestershire is so delicious, but they're also a sneaky factor that makes this condiment not vegan-friendly. However, not all hope is lost for vegans who once enjoyed Worcestershire, as there are plenty of substitutes on the market today.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

What Really Goes Into Worcestershire Sauce, Including Vegan Versions

A bowl of Worcestershire sauce
A bowl of Worcestershire sauce - Roxiller/Getty Images

The good news is that besides anchovies, the ingredients in classic Worcestershire sauce are usually vegan. Vinegar and tamarind give this sauce a tangy base, and onion and garlic add more savory boldness. Molasses gives the sauce its dark color and a hint of sweetness, which balances out the salty and sour elements. Sometimes brown or white sugar is also used to augment the sweet flavors. If you personally avoid white sugar processed with bone char, you might want to look for a vegan Worcestershire sauce that only lists molasses on the label.

Anchovy-free versions of Worcestershire are easier to find then ever. These sauces replace the fish with other flavorful ingredients, like shiitake mushroom powder or tamari, a Japanese soy sauce traditionally made from the remnants of miso paste. While "real" Worcestershire sauce must contain anchovies, a vegan substitute still works to elevate a whole lineup of savory dishes, from flavorful vegan okra gumbo to mouthwatering jackfruit "pulled pork" sandwiches.

When shopping for vegan Worcestershire, check the ingredients list to make sure a certain product conforms to your dietary preferences. You might have to search at multiple health food stores or online, but it will be worth it. You won't have to give up on using a tangy, savory, slightly sweet condiment to pour into soups and stews, or to kick up a marinade for tofu and veggies.

Popular Brands Of Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

A bottle of vegan Worcestershire sauce
A bottle of vegan Worcestershire sauce - Kuppa_rock/Getty Images

If you're overwhelmed by the prospect of shopping for the perfect vegan Worcestershire sauce, there are a few major brands to consider trying. For starters, Annie's Naturals produces a popular version of organic and vegan Worcestershire, which reviewers say tastes especially great in tofu dishes, stews, sauces, and marinades. The Wizard's Worcestershire Sauce is another vegan product made by Edward & Sons. It uses tamari in place of anchovies, and is also gluten-free. One Reddit user writes that this condiment is a close match to classic Lea & Perrins.

Finally, the brand Wan Ja Shan offers a vegan Worcestershire that is also kosher and non-GMO. One reviewer wrote that this sauce goes well with Impossible-brand meat substitutes, while others liked it because of its lower sodium levels compared to other brands. There are plenty of other vegan Worcestershire options to pick from, so feel free to explore and see which brand you'd like to permanently stock in your kitchen. More flavorful vegan dishes are at your fingertips with any of these convenient products.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.