Your gut health is linked to so many other aspects of health within your body, and probiotics are one of the best ways to improve it.
Although most people think of yogurt when looking for a probiotic-rich food to eat, it’s not suitable for vegans, so those on a plant-based diet must look elsewhere.
What probiotic foods vegan can vegans eat? Vegans can eat a diet rich in kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, and water kefir, among others if they’re trying to boost their probiotic intake.
There’s no need to eat dairy foods like yogurt and milk kefir just to get the good bacteria, with loads of options for vegans.
Thankfully vegans have a huge selection of probiotic foods that they can incorporate into their everyday lives, giving you a one-way ticket to better gut health.
Check out the best foods we’ve found that are loaded with good bacteria and find out what other health benefits they deliver.
Top 9 Probiotic-Rich Foods for Vegans
A healthy dose of probiotics in your daily diet will remove the need for supplements and ensure your gut health is at its very best.
If you’re a vegan and looking for ways to get more of the good bacteria we all need, these are the foods you should be aiming for.
Vegan hot dog lovers rejoice, as your favorite topping is also a food packed full of probiotics.
Sauerkraut is a traditional Eastern European dish that has made its way into the mainstream, and you can now find it in health food stores and supermarkets across the country.
The process of making sauerkraut starts with cabbage which has been finely cut and then fermented in a saltwater brine over time.
Once done, the cabbage has a salty taste while remaining crunchy and it’s added to things like salads, sandwiches, and hot dogs.
There are plenty of health benefits you’ll enjoy with this cabbage dish, including those that come from its high vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium content.
Better still, it has loads of Lactobacillus bacteria which help to convert sugars into lactic acid, giving it its famous sour taste.
#2 Water Kefir
Most people have probably seen kefir for sale at their local supermarket, but this milk-based version isn’t suitable for vegans. If you want to give kefir a try but usually steer clear of dairy, water kefir is a plant-based alternative.
There are no animal products present but it still provides a great way to get just as many probiotics as the dairy version, without any of the guilt.
Water kefir is made by using water kefir grains and adding them to things like sugar water, coconut water, and juice. You’ll also need a starter culture consisting of bacteria and yeast that’s added to the mix.
After leaving them for some time, the water will ferment and turn into a flavored drink that’s loaded with good bacteria and is quite enjoyable to sip on. From there, you can add further flavorings like fruit and natural sweeteners, if you wish to.
The health benefits of water kefir go beyond just probiotics, and it’s known for boosting your body’s natural immunity and helping with inflammation.
You can brew your own water kefir using a starter or purchase it already bottled, depending on your preference and budget.
Vegans should be no stranger to tempeh as it sits beside tofu as one of the most popular sources of plant-based protein.
However, tempeh is also a powerful source of probiotics, and adding just a little bit to your diet each week can help you get more of these good bacteria into your gut.
Tempeh is made with fermented soybeans, so although it looks like tofu, it takes a little longer to make but has a whole lot of health benefits. Tempeh is also higher in both protein and fiber than tofu, so it’s the smarter choice.
With soy products like these, you’ll get benefits like lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, less inflammation, few hot flashes, and better cholesterol levels, so they’re worthwhile adding to your dinner plant
Just like tofu, tempeh has a firm texture and mild taste that makes it versatile enough to eat in any way you like. The soy product should be grilled so the outside goes crusty but the inside remains soft.
Once cooked, there’s no shortage of ways to eat it, including putting it into stir-fries, soups, and sandwiches, so there are plenty of opportunities to get a probiotic boost.
Kimchi is another food loaded with probiotics thanks to the fermentation process it goes through to be created.
Made with cabbage, it’s slightly more detailed than sauerkraut as it involves the use of spices and other vegetables, giving it a spicy taste that’s loaded with flavor.
Kimchi was first developed in Korea and continues to be a staple in many of their dishes. Today, people make kimchi in their kitchen or find it at health food stores for a slightly higher price.
If you’re eating kimchi at a restaurant, ask first to be sure it doesn’t contain any seafood, as some varieties do.
To enjoy kimchi yourself, you can add it into salads, on sandwiches, or even thrown into pancake and fritter batters.
As well as being loaded with probiotics, it also has several vitamins and antioxidants, so it’s one of the healthier treats you can enjoy.
Kombucha is a tasty drink that’s loaded with probiotics and it’s become one of the biggest beverages in the last decade. The drink is made with fermented black or green tea and has loads of health benefits, as well as probiotics.
The delicious beverage is lightly effervescent and can be flavored with natural ingredients like ginger, lemon, oranges, and strawberries, or enjoyed as it is.
The probiotic content of kombucha comes from the living bacteria within it, but it might not be suitable for everyone.
There is a small amount of caffeine, from the tea starter, and due to fermentation, it may have very minor levels of alcohol in it.
To prepare kombucha, you’ll need an unflavored cup of kombucha and a SCOBY or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, plus tea bags, water, and sugar, with the whole process taking around 10 days to complete.
Although you can purchase kombucha at the store, many people find that making their own gives a more natural taste and lets them enjoy even more of the fermentation benefits.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning known most famously for the soup that shares its name. Made from fermented soya beans, it’s a great source of probiotics and has an incredible salty taste that can be used in just about anything.
Miso also contains other ingredients like rice, barley, and seaweed, depending on how it’s prepared. There are lots of other health benefits that miso brings to the table, including being high in B vitamins and antioxidants.
Of course, the presence of good bacteria makes it a popular choice probiotic source if you’re looking for something plant-based to chow down on.
Miso paste can be purchased in already made foods or as a paste used for making things like soups, pasta sauces, marinades, and dressings.
Be mindful if making your own miso that you should only use warm water to prepare it, as having it too hot will kill the good bacteria you’re trying to get more of.
#7 Sourdough Bread
Bread lovers who are into making their own loaves at home probably already know about the wonders of sourdough. Those who don’t will be excited to learn that this unique tasting bread type has lots of good bacteria in it.
The process of making sourdough begins with a starter or flour and water that has been fermented, giving you a dose of probiotics before you even begin the cooking process.
Not all sourdoughs are created equally though, so you have to be careful what you choose. Some people find they’re better off making the bread themselves to reap more of the benefits.
If you’re unsure about store-bought bread, check the ingredients list to see if a fermented starter culture is on there, which indicates it’s higher in probiotics.
Sourdough is a versatile loaf of bread with a unique sour flavor, hence the name. You can use it to make sandwiches, dip into soup, cook croutons with, or just enjoy it with some freshly sliced avocado or as a standalone snack.
#8 Fermented Plant Milk
Those who love the thought of milk kefir and yogurt will be thrilled to learn that there are now vegan versions of it, made with their favorite type of plant milk.
This is done by adding live cultures to the products after the fact, so you might find your almond milk or coconut yogurt now comes with probiotics included.
To be sure the plant milk product you’re enjoying is actually loaded with probiotics, look for Lactobacillus on the label, which indicates it features this probiotic strain and others within.
Once you’ve found your chosen fermented plant milk, you can enjoy it with cereal, fruits, or simply on its own.
#9 Sour Pickles
If there’s ever an opportunity to eat some sour pickles, we’ll take it, especially when it’s for the sake of our gut health.
Sour pickles are fermented cucumbers and they’re not only tasty but easy enough to make for yourself if you can’t find any that are good enough at the store.
The best way to enjoy sour pickles is through natural fermentation that occurs with water and salt, rather than just soaking them in vinegar, so it takes some time to prepare.
However, this way you’re ensuring you get the full benefits of the bacteria and a much tastier treat. Check the labels of any sour pickles you purchase at the store to see what they’ve used to ferment them.
Pickles aren’t just tasty and full of probiotics, they have a range of other health benefits to offer your body as well.
They feature loads of antioxidants, can ease the severity of muscle cramps, and curb blood sugar spikes, so get chowing down on them today.
The world is only just learning about the benefits of good bacteria and what they can do for your digestive systems, but what we know so far is fascinating.
If you’re trying to get more probiotics into your diet and don’t know where to start, read on for a few FAQs that can give you a push in the right direction.
What’s the Difference Between Prebiotic and Probiotic?
Probiotics are strains of live bacteria that can increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics are special types of fiber that help the good bacteria in the gut to grow, acting as a food source for them.
Both are essential in your diet to improve the health of your digestive system.
Are Probiotic Supplements Really Necessary?
It’s not always necessary to take a daily probiotic supplement, as long as you’re eating the right foods.
You should incorporate a healthy dose of fiber-rich foods into your diet that acts as a prebiotic, as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha that contain probiotics, to ensure you’re getting the right stuff.
Can Probiotics Help You Lose Weight?
When used in conjunction with a balanced diet and regular exercise, certain strains of probiotics can help with weight loss.
The best for this purpose come from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium family, with some studies showing these to be the most effective for losing weight and belly fat.
Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.