Is Worcestershire Sauce Vegan? The Vegan's Guide to Worcestershire Sauce

The only thing more confusing than the pronunciation of this food is its vegan status.

Worcestershire sauce in a bowl with spoon and bottle over white background, top view
Traditional recipes of Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies, making them non-vegan.

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Worcestershire sauce is a thin, brown sauce that adds a depth of flavor to cuisines worldwide. For vegans, two questions arise: First, how is this food pronounced? And second, does it contain animal products? 

The first answer is easy: There are much fewer sounds than letters (WUH-stuh-shur or WOO-stuh-sheer). The second answer is also easy but a hard pill to swallow: Most traditional formulations of Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies, making them distinctly non-vegan.

Luckily, there are easily accessible vegan alternatives. Discover which store brands meet your vegan needs in our guide to Worcestershire sauce.

Why Most Worcestershire Sauce Is Not Vegan

Worcestershire sauce bears the name of its founding hometown in England, where chemists Lea and Perrins created the savory sauce in 1837 under their eponymous label. Today, the company remains one of the top-selling Worcestershire sauce brands worldwide. A popular ingredient in Caesar salad dressing, Bloody Mary mix, and cocktail sauce, Worcestershire sauce adds a concentrated blast of flavor to marinades, sauces, drinks, vegetables, and non-vegan meat dishes.

Lea and Perrins' hallmark product, now produced by many different companies, possesses a full-bodied flavor profile. Worcestershire sauce derives from its unique taste from a blend of long-fermented ingredients, including several kinds of vinegar, garlic, onions, molasses, tamarind paste (a sweet, pod-like fruit), and, of course, non-vegan anchovies. Along with the base ingredients, Worcestershire sauce boasts a mixture of spices that enhance the deep umami flavor (the fifth taste), giving this sauce an irresistible combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and savory. 

Most, but certainly not all, commercially available brands do contain anchovies. When the sauce appears as an ingredient in another product like an alcoholic drink or snack mix, it too likely includes anchovies. Unless the premade product or menu item calls attention to its vegan status, it's safe to assume you can politely pass.

When Is Worcestershire Sauce Vegan?

Vegans don’t have to give up the versatility of Worcestershire sauce just because of the anchovies. Today, companies around the world produce a variety of vegan-friendly versions that use alternative foods to recreate that signature complex flavor. In many cases, these vegan alternatives will be labeled as such, but some brands are vegan without calling attention to that fact. 

Beyond the many available store-brand vegan Worcestershire sauces, it’s simple to make your own vegan version at home. In less than a minute, you can whip up your own serving by combining ketchup, white wine or apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce in a 2:2:1 ratio. If you’re looking to make your vegan Worcestershire sauce gluten-free, you can swap the soy sauce for tamari or coconut aminos for a sweeter taste. Other spices to consider adding include black pepper, cinnamon, mustard seed, ginger, cloves, pepper, and citrus peel. Add a dash of hot sauce to spice things up. 

Did You Know?

Anchovies are one of the most popularly consumed fish worldwide. Their biowaste—otherwise known as anchovy sludge consisting of fish heads, tails, and bones—provides such a good methane yield that these fishing remnants have the potential to become a renewable energy source as biogas.

Vegan Alternatives of Worcestershire Sauce

Top view of a knife dipping into a jar of yeast extract
In a pinch, Marmite makes a decent vegan substitute for non-vegan Worcestershire sauce.

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It’s easier to find vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce today than ever before. Grocery stores, both conventional and boutique, carry vegan options, even if the label doesn't mention it explicitly.

365 Worcestershire Sauce

Made with a base of organic white vinegar and molasses, this Whole Foods brand Worcestershire sauce meets all your vegan needs while treading lightly on the planet. Since this formation contains allspice, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper, it’s got an extra spice that stands out among the crowd. 

Annie’s Organic Vegan Worcestershire Sauce 

Annie’s leads the way in offering plant-based and certified organic alternatives to cooking favorites. This thick Worcestershire sauce contains no artificial flavors, synthetic colors, preservatives, or anchovies, making it a staple in vegan kitchens.

O Organics Worcestershire Sauce 

Available at Albertson’s, Pavilions, and Safeway, this plant-based sauce includes organic sugar (which verifies its vegan status) and non-GMO ingredients that meet organic farming standards. O Organics has fewer additional spices, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a less intense flavor.

Wan Ja Shan Organic Worcestershire Sauce

This vegan Worcestershire sauce brand has a more watery consistency than other brands, but it packs a flavor that is just as delicious. Sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice, Wan Jan Shan's Worcestershire sauce also contains organic soybeans and wheat-free tamari soy sauce, which leans more toward the salty than the tangy.

Marmite

An equally concentrated flavor delivery system, Marmite is a vegan-friendly British food spread made from yeast extract. It lacks the depth of spices in Worcestershire sauce, but Marmite packs a savory punch, so a little dab’ll do ya.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce vegan?

    Alas, no. The gold standard of Worcestershire sauces contains anchovies, making it unsuitable for vegans.

  • What is a vegan substitute for Worcestershire sauce?

    Both soy sauce and Marmite (a plant-based yeast extract) make excellent vegan Worcestershire sauce substitutes. You can also make your own Worcestershire sauce using simple mixes, or try your hand at a more complex recipe that you can store in an airtight container in the fridge.


  • Does Worcestershire sauce have meat in it?

    If you consider fish meat like the majority of vegans do, then yes. Many Worcestershire sauce brands contain anchovies. These tiny fish typically provide all five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami) and are a common ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.