8 Best Natural Probiotics for Vegans

Since most probiotics contain dairy, you may think there are no vegan options, so, in this post, I’m sharing the 8 best natural probiotics for vegans to consume on a plant-based diet.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics help restore gut health, strengthen the immune system, and improve overall health and wellbeing.

They can be taken as a supplement, or cultivated by eating fermented foods that contain certain strains of bacteria.

Also check out How To Transition To A Plant-Based Diet, Should Vegans Take Supplements, and Plant Iron Sources!

8 Best Natural Probiotics For Vegans To Try 

1.   Yogurt

Yogurt is a popular drink that has been consumed for centuries. 

It’s often made from dairy milk, but with the growing health and wellness industry, plant versions are now available, made from ingredients such as soy, coconut, and oat milk, which are then made into yogurt. Yogurt is made by adding a bacteria culture into milk and leaving it to ferment. 

In my opinion, this is one of the easiest and most common ways to ingest your probiotics.

Some benefits to expect include:

  • Improved digestive health 
  • Reduced risk of diabetes type 2 
  • A reduced risk of colorectal cancer
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Boosts the immune system 
  • Improved bone density
  • Reduced high blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis prevention

2.   Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a thinly shredded cabbage that has been left to ferment.

Thought it is not so diverse in probiotics, but it’s high in vitamin C, B, and K, manganese, iron, sodium, and antioxidants.

It’s high in organic acids such as lactic acid and butyric acid, beneficial for overall wellbeing and the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

3.   Kombucha

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented tea made by adding SCOBY (an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) into sweetened tea and letting it ferment for 7-10 days or even longer, depending on individual  preference.

Green or black tea is commonly used. One can use any kind of tea but not flavored or those with additives.

The bacteria and yeast present in SCOBY feed on the sugar in the tea resulting in a tangy, unsweetened, refreshingly fizzy beverage.

For an extra flavor and carbonation, the kombucha tea is sweetened with fresh sugary fruit puree/juice and left to ferment in air-tight bottles for another 5-7 days. It can also be spiced with different spices such as cinnamon and ginger and herbs such as mint and basil. 

Kombucha is so full of probiotics and provides a great way to experience the health benefits of green tea.

4.   Kimchi

This deliciously spicy, salted, and fermented vegetable is a traditional Korean staple often served as a side dish. It is typically made from cabbage, seasonings, and spices such as garlic, chili peppers, and ginger.  

It’s rich in probiotics that have been shown to improve constipation, mental health, gut issues, some cancer types, common colds, heart health, and mental health.

It’s also high in nutrients such a vitamin C, B6, and K, folate, iron, niacin, riboflavin, proteins, sodium, fiber, and carbohydrate.

Additionally, kimchi may help boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, slow aging, prevent yeast infections, and aid weight loss.

5.   Tempeh

Tempeh is a highly nutritious protein-dense soy product thought to have originated from Indonesia.

Unlike tofu, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and /or wheat and pressed into a compact cake.

Soybeans contain higher levels of phytic acid, a natural compound that promotes mineral deficiencies by impairing the absorption of minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium. 

Thanks to fermentation, it helps lower the amount of phytic acid, allowing your body to absorb as many minerals as tempeh has to offer.

Also, the fermentation process leads to the production of B vitamins such as B12.

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin mainly found in animal products making tempeh a great vegan and vegetarian source.

Tempeh is a popular vegetarian protein source and a vegan meat replacement, but its benefits can benefit even non-vegans.

It may also help lower your cholesterol levels, reduce oxidative stress, promote bone health, and reduce appetite.

Besides its nutritional profile, tempeh may not be suitable for individuals allergic to soy.

Some symptoms to watch out for may include difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling.

6.   Miso

If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you probably might have seen their traditional miso soup.

Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning paste made from fermented soybean, brown rice with koji (a fungus used in soybean fermentations) or barley.

Miso soup is simple yet famous throughout the world. It’s simply prepared by adding a tablespoon of miso paste into a pot of water with seaweed and other preferred ingredients.

Other delicious ways to use miso include in salad dressings, adding to onions for burgers, in marinades, as a soy or salt seasoning alternative, as a spread on crackers, or in stir fries.

7.   Kvass

If you haven’t heard of it, this incredible prebiotic-rich drink might soon be catching up with kombucha in the health and wellness industry.

It’s a fermented drink that originated in Russia and whose probiotic benefits, fermentation process, and taste are much like kombucha.

It’s made from fermented stale rye or sourdough bread or beets, and it can further be flavored with fruits, raisins, honey, and herbs.

With less than 1% alcohol content, Kvass is considered a non-alcoholic beverage; however, prolonged fermentation periods may increase its alcohol content.

With just a glass of Kvass you stand a chance to consume a wide range of nutrients such as probiotics, vitamin B12, manganese, selenium, folate, and thiamine.

Beet kvass may help balance blood PH, cleanse the liver, and prevent cancer.

8.   Pickles

Pickles, also known as gherkins, are cucumbers that have been put in a salted water solution, then left to ferment for some time. This gives them a sour flavor and greatly lengthens their shelf life.

They are low in calories and a great source of probiotics, beneficial for digestive health.

They are also a good source of vitamin K, an essential vitamin for blood clotting processes.

However, pickled cucumbers may be high in sodium. Also, note that not all pickles are rich in probiotics. For example, vinegar pickles do not contain probiotics.

Probiotics are essential for a healthy gut and a strong immune system. While they can be obtained as a supplement, most of them are not vegan friendly, and if any, they can be pretty expensive. Also, many people prefer having a natural source through their diet versus a supplement. This makes the fermented foods discussed in this article healthy alternatives to consider.

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