Is Kimchi Vegan or Vegetarian?

Kimchi, a traditional Korean dish, is a traditional side dish made up of salted and fermented vegetables, like Korean radish and napa cabbage, and a wide variety of seasonings such as ginger, garlic, scallions, gochugaru (chili powder) and jeotgal.

Is it vegan? Like other foodstuffs, several kimchis are vegan. However, most recipes/formulations appear to be nonvegan. Its two main ingredients are vegetables and condiments. It is the latter (seasoning), which can be troublesome, and many of the most common flavorings used in the Kimchi are animal-derived.

Vegan-friendly ingredients include

  • Gochugaru (chili powder)
  • Scallions
  • Garlic
  • Ginger

As you will see, nonvegan ingredients are often sourced from marine species.

Non-vegan Ingredients Potentially Present in Kimchi.

Once more, fermented vegetables make up the majority of the kimchi ingredients. Spices and salt, such as brine salt (salt with a larger grain size compared to common kitchen salt), are still used.

The latter is primarily used for the preliminary salting of the vegetables. Highly processed salt helps to develop flavors if used in fermented foods.

Many seasonings that cause problems for vegans and vegetarians, because some of the most widely used seasonings in Kimchi are extracted from seafood. Most of them fall into the category of jeotgal.


Jeotgal is a word for salted seafood and constitutes a type of salted, dried food products produced from shrimp, fish, roe (fish eggs), and bivalves, like clams and oysters.

The clear, broth-like liquid is also very common. Salted shrimp (saeu-jeot) or croaker (jogi-jeot) is also popular in some areas in which the dish is widely consumed.

Highly flavored jeotgal— salted anchovies (myeolchi-jeot) and salted hairtail (galchi-jeot)—is widely eaten in South Korea. Fresh seafood called daegu-agami-jeot (or salted cod gills) is popular in some areas of South Korea.

Seafood (General)

In industrial Kimchi, producers are not going to be so sophisticated as to use fermented vegetables. Seafood may come in the form of dry powders or pasta instead.

For example, Nongshim’s Bowl Noodle Soup Spicy Kimchi Flavor (yes, that’s the name of the product) includes the normal ingredients (enriched wheat flour, oils, and starches, etc.) and shrimp darkened in “dried kimchi flakes,” an ingredient which seems to be a mixture of salts, spices, and seafood.

This item does not stop here but also comprises anchovy extract, beef bone extract (di).

The lactic acid was, at least, non-dairy.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a really popular nonvegan seasoning used to taste Kimchi. This isn’t to say you can’t find any vegan “fish sauce” on the market. Nonetheless, nonvegan variations of the drug (i.e., real fish sauce) are the norm.

For starters, Frieda’s Hot & Spicy Kimchi Sauce includes napa cabbage, daikon, red pepper, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt, boiled shrimp, onion, water, and fish sauce. I’ve written a full article about the vegan nature of fish sauce that you can check out here.


Beef is a relatively common ingredient in Kimchi. Keep an eye on beef stock, too, as it is a common ingredient in popular Kimchi. Mother in Laws Kimchi, for example, includes daikon radish, chili pepper, salt, raw sugar, garlic and ginger, beef stock, and salted shrimp.

Kimchi Ramyun includes, amongst other ingredients, enriched wheat flour, palm oil, numerous starches (potato, etc.), salt, anchovy extract, black pepper, different vegetables (cabbage, carrots, green onions, etc.), cellulose, citric acid, corn syrup, dextrose, different additives (disodium guanylate, inosinate, and succinate), wheat protein, garlic, ginger, gum arabic, soy protein.

Commercial Vegan Kimchi

A large number of people are curious regarding Kimchi for the purposes of ordering in restaurants.

Here are some details of commercial kimchi items that you can purchase in supermarkets and Asian food shops.

However, the details will give you some idea of the varieties of ingredients that are expected to be used in the Kimchi in Korean restaurants.

The major difference is that Kimchi served in restaurants is likely to be made with quality ingredients.

If you want to ask if your favorite restaurant serves vegan-friendly Kimchi, you will have to contact the restaurant staff or visit the site— if the establishment has nutritional information on their site.

Wang Napa Cabbage Kimchi

It is one of the unusual products that contain a mixture of kimchi vegetables and spices without any kind of fish sauce or seafood.

This product contains marinated Chinese cabbage, carrots, d-sorbitol, sugar, red pepper powder, garlic, green onion, onion (regular), sodium l-glutamate, ginger, xanthan gum, vitamin C, sodium5-inosinate and water.

You may have noted the presence of xanthan gum. This product has been somewhat debated in the group over the years.

However, most vegans do not discourage the use of the additive because it is typically extracted from bacteria grown on simple sugars other than lactose.

Also, most criteria are considered suitable for vegans.

King’s Kimchi Korean Marinated Spicy Cabbage

It’s just cabbage, but if you’re making your own, it could be a useful product.

The first and only ingredients are napa cabbage, green onion, garlic, hot pepper, salt, sugar, ginger, and paprika.

This is because of the vegan status of Kimchi.

Thank you so much for reading.

You may also want to read the following related articles:


  1. Lee, Young C. (1991). “Kimchi: The famous fermented vegetable product in Korea.” Food Reviews International. 7 (4): 399–415.
  2. Kimchi. The Britannica –
  3. Chin, Mei (14 October 2009). “The Art of Kimchi.” Saveur.
  4. The Art Of Kimchi.
  5. 김치.
  6. Shaking Up Salt.
  7. Nongshim Bowl Noodle Soup Spicy Kimchi Flavor, 4 / 3.03 Oz Packages. Tara –
  8. Understanding and Making Kimchi.
  9. Kimchi Hot 14oz.
  10. Milkimchi Mother in Laws Kimchi, 16 Oz. Meg –
  11. Kimchi Ramyun Multipak, 16.8 Oz. Menezzie –
  12. Wang – Napa Cabbage Kimchi (韓國泡菜) – Wai Yee Hong Wai Hong –
  13. The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog.
  14. King’s Kimchi Korean Marinated Spicy Cabbage 14 Oz. Jar. Grayden- Scott- RicketyDick –

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