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Last updated: May 30, 2024

My 10 favourite vegan probiotic foods

By incorporating a good range of these vegan probiotic foods into your diet you’ll be providing your gut with plenty of good bacteria!

An array of vegan probiotic foods in jars that you should be eating like kimchi and sauerkraut

I make sure to eat probiotic-rich fermented food every single day. Be it kimchi noodles, miso soup, a tempeh sandwich, or a glass of kombucha.

I find it easy to get probiotics naturally in my diet when eating plant-based foods. I will be discussing foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as tempeh and miso. But there are also a few tasty drink options in there too, like kombucha and kefir.

For each, I will provide a recipe or serving suggestion to help you incorporate these delicious vegan probiotic foods into your diet.

So, let’s make our gut’s day. Here are some of my favourite vegan probiotic foods that you should incorporate into your diet.

A bowl of vegan kimchi a natural vegan probiotic food

1. Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made by fermenting vegetables with salt, chilli peppers (usually gochujang), garlic, ginger, and other seasonings. The primary ingredient in kimchi is usually Napa cabbage, but other vegetables such as radishes, carrots, and cucumbers can also be used.

Kimchi is considered a probiotic because it is made through the process of lacto-fermentation, which involves the growth of beneficial bacteria in the food. During the fermentation process, the bacteria break down the natural sugars in the vegetables, producing lactic acid and other compounds that give kimchi its distinctively tangy flavour.

Do be careful when ordering pre-made kimchi at a restaurant or buying it in a supermarket because it is traditionally made using fish sauce and/or shrimp. Many places offer vegan versions though!

Serving suggestion: make a vegan kimchi toastie or try out any of the recipes in my guide on cooking with vegan kimchi

A bowl of sauerkraut one of the best vegan probiotic foods

2. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a traditional German dish made by fermenting finely sliced cabbage with salt. The fermentation process involves the growth of beneficial bacteria, which break down the natural sugars in the cabbage, producing lactic acid and other compounds that give sauerkraut its characteristic sour taste. It is similar to kimchi, but with no chilli spicing.

Sauerkraut is a vegan-friendly probiotic food that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a condiment for sandwiches, salads, and other dishes. It is also a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients.

If you are buying sauerkraut then make sure to buy one that isn’t pasteurised so that the live cultures are still inside it.

Serving suggestion: mix it into a vegan potato salad for a tangy crunch or use it in a sandwich with slices of marinated tempeh

Slices of tempeh one of the best vegan probiotic foods

3. Tempeh

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a type of fungus called Rhizopus oligosporus. The fermentation process binds the soybeans together into a firm, nutty-tasting cake.

As a result of this fermentation process, tempeh is rich in probiotics. Simply slice it up, fry it or bake it and add it to sandwiches, salads, and curries. This is one of my favourite ways of eating plant-based probiotics!

Serving suggestion: use it to create this delicious vegan tempeh katsu curry or add it to this vegan miso ramen recipe in place of the tofu for a double hit of vegan probiotics

A bowl of miso paste one of the best vegan probiotic foods

4. Miso

Miso is a traditional Japanese food made by fermenting soybeans with a type of fungus called Aspergillus oryzae, along with salt and sometimes other grains such as rice or barley. The fermentation process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the desired flavour and texture.

During the fermentation process, the fungus breaks down the proteins and carbohydrates in the soybeans and other ingredients, producing a range of complex flavours and aromas.

If you do cook the miso into something like a miso soup then make sure to use warm water, not boiling hot, since high temperatures can cook off the good bacteria.

Serving suggestion: blend it with some silken tofu to create a variation of this silken tofu sauce base to create an umami sauce to coat pasta and salads

A jar of kombucha on a bench one of the best vegan probiotic foods

5. Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented drink made by fermenting sweetened tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). The fermentation process produces live bacteria and yeasts.

To make kombucha, a SCOBY is added to sweetened tea and left to ferment for several days or up to a few weeks. During the fermentation process, the bacteria and yeast in the SCOBY feed on the sugar in the tea, producing organic acids, enzymes, and other compounds that give kombucha its characteristic tangy taste and fizzy texture. Check out my favourite kombucha in my Hip Pop review or browse other great brands in my full guide to the best kombucha.

Serving suggestion: drink it as it is in a glass with some ice

A loaf of sourdough bread one of the best vegan probiotic foods

6. Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread is a type of bread made using a natural fermentation process that involves wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria. This fermentation process gives sourdough bread its characteristic tangy flavour and chewy texture and also makes it a probiotic food.

The fermentation process begins by mixing together flour and water to make a sourdough starter. During this time, wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria naturally present in the environment begin to grow and multiply within the starter. This starter is then used to create a loaf of bread, in place of pre-bought yeast.

Be careful when buying pre-made sourdough bread since many brands claim their loaf is a sourdough loaf when it is actually just flavoured with sourdough. You can normally tell when they have ‘yeast’ listed in the ingredients since you don’t need pre-made yeast to make a sourdough loaf.

Serving suggestion: slice some sourdough bread and top it with some delicious smoked carrot lox and vegan cream cheese

A jar of water kefir one of the best vegan probiotic foods

7. Kefir

Vegan kefir is a fermented drink made using a combination of water, plant-based milk, and kefir grains, which are a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. The fermentation process produces live bacteria and yeasts.

To make vegan kefir, the kefir grains are added to a mixture of water and plant-based milk, such as soy, almond, or coconut milk. The mixture is then left to ferment for several hours or up to a day, depending on the desired flavour and texture. During the fermentation process, the bacteria and yeast in the kefir grains feed on the sugar in the milk, producing organic acids, enzymes, and other compounds that give kefir its characteristic tangy taste and fizzy texture.

Do be careful when buying kefir in the supermarket as most of it is made using cow’s milk. You can find many variations made using plant-based milk as well as water.

Serving suggestion: blend some water kefir into your morning smoothie or into a vegan protein powder shake

A bowl of dairy-free yoghurt one of the best vegan probiotic foods

8. Dairy-free yoghurt

Dairy-free yoghurt is a plant-based alternative to traditional yoghurt that is made using a fermentation process similar to that used to make dairy-based yoghurt. The fermentation process involves the use of live cultures, or probiotics, that convert the natural sugars in the milk alternative into lactic acid, which gives the yoghurt its tangy flavour and thick, creamy texture.

To make dairy-free yoghurt, a milk alternative such as soy, almond, coconut, or cashew milk is heated and then cooled to a specific temperature. A small amount of a yoghurt starter culture containing live cultures is then added to the milk and the mixture is incubated at a specific temperature for several hours. During this time, the live cultures feed on the natural sugars in the milk alternative, converting them into lactic acid and other compounds that give the yoghurt its characteristic taste and texture.

Sometimes the probiotics are removed from the yoghurt after it is made, so do make sure to buy one that says it contains ‘live cultures’.

Serving suggestion: serve up some dairy-free yoghurt with some granola for a nutritious vegan breakfast or use it to make this vegan chia pudding recipe

Jars of pickled veg one of the best vegan probiotic foods

9. Pickled vegetables

Pickled vegetables are a type of probiotic food that is made through the process of fermentation. During fermentation, naturally occurring bacteria consume the sugars in the vegetables and produce lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives them a tangy flavour.

To make pickled vegetables, fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, onions, or cabbage are first washed and sliced. They are then placed in a jar or container along with salt, spices, and other flavourings such as garlic or dill. A brine is added to the jar, which is made by dissolving salt in water, and the jar is sealed and left to ferment at room temperature for several days or up to several weeks, depending on the desired flavour and texture.

As the vegetables ferment, they release carbon dioxide, which creates a natural pressure in the jar and helps to preserve the vegetables. The lactic acid produced during fermentation also helps to create a sour and tangy flavour.

Did you know that brine from a jar of pickles is used as a hangover cure in certain countries in Europe?

Serving suggestion: serve pickled vegetables up on the side of this vegan katsu curry dish or alongside these vegan chickpea fries

Two vegan probiotics sat next to a glass of water surrounded by plants on a kitchen worktop

10. Probiotic supplements

If fermented foods aren’t quite your thing, then you may be much keener on the idea of taking a vegan probiotic supplement instead. Whilst I would encourage you to incorporate at least a few fermented foods into your diet, because they are a really natural way of consuming probiotics, these supplements also do a great job of looking after your gut.

I would recommend water-based probiotics, like Symprove (read my Symprove review), since they are more likely to reach the right place in your gut without being digested first. But you can also benefit a lot from powdered capsule probiotics if taken correctly!

I have tried a lot of these supplements myself to help with my gut issues and have put together a guide on the best ones:

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Lucy the founder of Edible Ethics vegan food blog eating vegan noodles in a plant based restaurant

Lucy Johnson

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