Stock is a flavourful liquid that’s used in many recipes including soups, stews and sauces. It’s traditionally made by simmering animal bones, meat or vegetables in water for a long time. However, most people find it easier to use stock cubes, pots, pastes, bullion powder or liquid seasoning.
Knowing which types of stock are vegan and where to buy them can be tricky. That’s why I’ve created this guide to vegan stock, broth and bouillon for you to refer to when cooking your favourite vegan and vegetarian recipes.
Is stock vegan?
Some kinds of stock are vegan and some aren’t. Vegetable stock is generally always suitable for vegans, whereas beef, chicken and fish stock is almost always made from animal-derived ingredients.
Vegan beef stock
The best vegan beef-flavoured stock is OXO meat-free beef stock cubes. These stock cubes taste just like beef, but they’re actually free from animal ingredients and certified as vegan. You’ll find vegan beef OXO cubes in most large supermarkets including Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s.
Vegan chicken stock
Vegan chicken stock had always been hard to find. However, in July 2021, vegan OXO cubes were first spotted in Asda. Its hoped that these will be rolled out to other supermarkets across the UK.
If you can’t get your hands on the elusive vegan chicken flavour OXO cubes, you can also find vegan chicken stock on Amazon. For a cheaper vegan alternative to chicken stock, you could use vegetable stock for most recipes.
Vegan vegetable stock
I’ve never come across any vegetable stock that isn’t suitable for vegans. Stock isn’t always labelled as vegan and may instead say ‘vegetarian’. As with many vegan products, the lack of a vegan label just means that the product isn’t officially certified.
If you’d like vegetable stock which is certified as vegan, OXO vegetable stock cubes would be the best choice.
Vegan stock cubes
Are stock cubes vegan?
Vegetable stock cubes are usually suitable for vegans, whereas meat-flavoured stock cubes are not. The exception is OXO meat-free beef and chicken flavoured stock cubes, which are both vegan-friendly.
Most stock cubes contain palm oil, which some strict vegans may choose to avoid if it doesn’t come from sustainable sources.
Are Knorr stock cubes vegan?
Knorr vegetable stock cubes are suitable for vegans, but the beef, pork, lamb, ham, fish and chicken stock cubes contain animal ingredients. Knorr vegetable stock cubes are not labelled as vegan because they are made in the same environment as non-vegan products.
The Knorr brand is owned by Unilever, a company which some strict vegans choose to boycott as it uses animal testing in China [Source].
Knorr stock cubes also contain palm oil, although Unilever claims that 95% of its palm oil is sourced sustainably [Source]. If you wish to avoid palm oil, then Knorr Zero Salt Veggie Stock Cubes do not contain any palm oil and are suitable for vegans.
Are OXO cubes vegan?
OXO vegetable stock cubes, OXO meat-free beef flavour stock cubes and OXO meat-free chicken flavour stock cubes are all suitable for vegans and carry a vegan label on the packaging.
The other flavours of OXO cubes (beef, chicken, lamb and ham) all contain animal-derived ingredients and so are not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
OXO cubes contain palm oil. However, this is 100% sustainably sourced and so it not a reason for vegans to avoid the product. [Source]
The best vegan stock cubes?
The best vegan stock cubes are OXO cubes. Vegans have a choice of OXO vegetable stock cubes, meat-free beef flavour OXO cubes or the new vegan chicken flavour OXO cubes. All three are certified as suitable for vegans so there’s no risk of cross-contamination with meat products.
Vegan stock pots
Are stock pots vegan?
Just as with stock cubes, vegetable flavoured stock pots tend to be vegan, whereas the meat flavours are not.
Some stock pots have a vegan certification, which means that they can be labelled as vegan. Stock pots labelled as vegetarian are generally suitable for most vegans, although they may be made in the same factory as non-vegan ingredients.
Are Knorr stock pots vegan?
The following Knorr Stock pots are suitable for vegans:
- Smoked Chilli & Tomato*
- Paprika & Sundried Tomato*
- Kaffir Lime & Ginger*
- Herb Infusion
Knorr has a range of six stock pots which are suitable for vegans. However, only three of these (marked with *) are vegan certified. The vegan certification means that these products have been scientifically demonstrated to be free from cross-contamination with non-vegan products. In reality, the other three flavours would be acceptable to most vegans as well.
Suggested read: Is food that ‘may contain milk’ vegan?
Are OXO stock pots vegan?
OXO vegetable stock pots and OXO red wine stock pots are suitable for vegans, but OXO beef and chicken stock pots are not.
OXO stock pots are not labelled as vegan and they are made in a factory with non-vegan products. Most vegans are fine with this, but if you’re looking for only vegan-certified stock, then you should instead choose OXO cubes as these are labelled as vegan which means that there is no risk of cross-contamination.
The words ‘broth’ and ‘stock’ are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. However, some people may distinguish between the two by saying that broth is thinner and more flavourful. You could drink broth by itself, whereas stock is more of a base for soups and sauces.
Vegan bone broth
Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones for up to 48 hours which releases things link glucosamine, collagen, amino acids and electrolytes from the bones. Drinking bone broth is believed to have some health benefits for digestion, immune function, anti-ageing and joint health.
Of course, bone broth is not vegan as it’s made from the bones of animals who lead horrific lives before being slaughtered.
Is there a vegan version of bone broth?
Many of the health benefits of bone broth can be gained from drinking a vegan broth made with fresh or frozen vegetable scraps (carrot peel, mushroom stems, potato skins) simmered with two pints of water, a pinch of salt and a 2cm piece of kombu seaweed (for potassium, calcium, folate and iodine).
Fans of bone broth often talk about the benefits of collagen – something which keeps our bones, skin and digestive systems healthy. However, scientists have explained that we cannot absorb collagen whole from food.
Vegan chicken broth
The easiest vegan alternative to chicken broth would be to substitute it with vegetable broth. However, if you’re missing the chickeny taste of real chicken broth, then you may wish to try Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base. It’s expensive, but reviewers claim that it tastes just like chicken broth.
Vegan ramen broth
Ramen broth is usually made with chicken or pork. However, you can get vegan ramen broth which is made with vegetables.
I particularly like the Ocean’s Halo vegan ramen broth. It’s so easy to make as you just heat it in a saucepan and add your favourite vegan noodles and vegetables to create a delicious noodle soup.
Vegan pho broth
Vietnamese pho broth is traditionally made with beef stock but it can be made vegan. You can buy ready-made pho broth in a carton. Ocean’s Halo pho broth is the only brand I’ve found, or you could make your own vegan pho broth alternative with Marmite, water and soy sauce.
What is bouillon?
The word ‘bouillon’ is often used interchangeably with ‘stock’ and ‘broth’. Technically, bouillon is dehydrated stock or broth. Bouillon is essentially the same as a stock cube, although bouillon can also come in powdered form.
Vegan bouillon powder
Vegetable bouillon powder is generally suitable for vegans, whereas beef or chicken bouillon is not. The most popular brand of vegan bouillon powder is Marigold vegan bouillon.
Vegan bouillon cubes
Bouillon cubes are the same as stock cubes. You could use a vegan stock cube, such as an OXO cube, or get vegan bouillon cubes such as Marigold vegetable bouillon cubes.
Vegan liquid seasoning
Knorr vegan liquid seasoning
Knorr has recently released a range of vegan liquid seasonings which includes deep smoke, miso mushroom and rich vegetable. You’ll find these exclusively at Tesco.
Maggi liquid seasoning
Maggi liquid seasoning is suitable for vegans. While it’s not labelled as vegan, this seasoning does not contain any animal-derived ingredients which makes it a great addition to many vegan recipes. You can buy Maggi liquid seasoning on Amazon.
The bottom line
Most vegetable stock, broth and bouillon is suitable for vegans. In fact, I am yet to come across one that isn’t. If you’re a vegan who’s looking for the meaty taste of chicken or beef stock, then look out for Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base or OXO meat-free beef-flavoured stock cubes.