Going Vegan Without Soy: The Best Plant-Based Brands and Recipes

For many vegan brands, soy is a go-to ingredient. It’s protein-packed, nutritious, and most importantly, versatile. Depending on how they are processed, soybeans can take many shapes and textures, allowing them to form the basis of plant-based meats, as well as dairy-free cheeses and milks. But while soy presents a great alternative to animal products for many—including those who may suffer with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance—it is, of course, not suitable for those with soy allergies.

But good news: if you’re a vegan who wants or needs to follow a diet without soy, or you know someone who is soy-free, there are plenty of suitable products out there. To help you find them, we’ve gathered some of the best soy-free vegan meat, milk, and cheese products on the market, as well as easy-to-follow, vegan soy-free recipes.

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What is soy?

Soybeans, often simply referred to as just “soy,” are a type of legume. While the beans are native to Southeast Asia, they are now cultivated all over the world⁠—but predominantly in South America. Soy farming has been linked with deforestation, however, as most soy crops (around 80 percent) are grown for farm animal feed, not human consumption.

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There are several different types of soybeans. Green soybeans (also referred to as edamame) are a popular snack or appetizer, often served in Japanese restaurants. Yellow soybeans are usually used to make things like milk, tofu, and tempeh, as well as textured vegetable protein (a vegan meat alternative). 

There are also black soybeans, and these are used in many traditional Asian recipes, like Kongjaban in Korea or Kuromame in Japan.

Soy allergies

Soy allergies can occur at any age, but they are more common in infants and children than adults. Like any food allergy, reactions can vary in severity, with symptoms ranging from skin redness to full anaphylaxis. But, according to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), soy allergies are usually mild. 

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FARE also notes that of the 32 million people in the US who have food allergies, approximately 1.9 million are related to soy. In contrast, more than 8 million people are allergic to shellfish and more than 6 million are allergic to milk.

Some may also suffer from an intolerance to foods with soy. This is less serious than an allergy, and usually includes symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems, like stomach pain or bloating, for example.

If you are concerned you have a food intolerance or an allergy, contact a doctor or medical professional to discuss your symptoms.

Soy-free vegan meat

Many of the vegan meat brands on the market rely on soy to get the right texture and mouthfeel—but not all of them. Here are just a handful of the best soy-free vegan meat options on the market. And, you’ll be pleased to hear, not one of them compromises on taste. 

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1 Beyond Meat

California-based Beyond Meat’s most iconic product is, of course, the Beyond Burger. The protein-packed patty is made with peas and rice, and is 100-percent soy- and gluten-free. The Beyond Burger is available in restaurants, fast-food chains, and supermarkets all over the world. As well as the Beyond Burger, several other products from Beyond Meat, including Beyond Beef, Beyond Sausage, and Beyond Meatballs, are soy-free. However, check the labels carefully, as the brand’s Beyond Chicken does contain soy, and the Beyond Steak may contain traces of it.
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2 Field Roast

Popular vegan meat and cheese brand Field Roast is known for its wide range of unique products, like its Caramelized Onions & Beer Plant-Based Bratwursts, for example, as well as its line of holiday roasts. All of the brand’s vegan meat products are soy-free, however, its Chao Creamery slices are not.
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3 Quorn

The key ingredient in British brand Quorn’s products is mycoprotein, a type of fermented fungi. This means that, for the most part, its products are soy-free. However, always check the label, as the brand will occasionally use some ingredients derived from soy (like soy sauce). Kroger, Walmart, and Target are just a few examples of the retailers that stock Quorn products.
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Soy-free milk

For a long time, soy milk was one of the only dairy-free milk alternatives available. But that is far from the reality now. Today, there are a number of different milk varieties out there, from oat to pea to hemp. Here are just a few of our favorites. 

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4 Oatly

It may seem like Swedish milk brand Oatly only recently burst onto the vegan milk scene, but actually, the company has been around since the 1990s. In the last few years it has risen to global fame, and now it is one of the world’s best-selling oat milk brands. All of its products are 100-percent free of soy.
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5 Milkadamia

As the name implies, Australian brand Milkadamia uses macadamia nuts to make its range of milk products. These include regular sweetened and unsweetened versions, as well as vanilla and barista varieties. You can purchase the brand’s products, which are totally soy-free, from various online retailers including Amazon, Fresh Direct, and Thrive.
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6 Ripple Foods

Ripple Foods’ vegan milks come in several varieties, including Original, Vanilla, and Chocolate. They are totally soy-free, because they’re made with yellow split peas. According to the brand, peas offer more protein than other plant-based milk ingredients, like almonds or coconuts.
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7 Califia Farms

California-based milk brand Califia Farms offers several different milk varieties, including coconut, oat, and almond. Most of its products, which include plant milks, cold brews, and creamers, are marked soy-free. However, make sure to always double-check the label before you buy.
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Soy-free cheese

From coconut to cashew, there are a number of ways to make vegan cheese without relying on soy⁠—these plant-based brands show how it’s done. 

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8 Daiya

Back in 2009, Canadian brand Daiya debuted its first vegan cheese products: Cheddar Style and Mozzarella Style Shreds. Since then, it has grown its portfolio significantly, and now offers a wide range of cheese blocks, slices, and shreds, but also pizzas, ready meals, sauces, and desserts. Everything the brand offers is plant-based and free of the top eight allergens, including soy.
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9 Violife

Greek brand Violife is an expert in the world of vegan cheese, as it’s been around since the 1990s. But like many dairy-free brands, its popularity has only soared in recent years, in line with changing attitudes around plant-based eating. Its range—which includes Epic Mature, Just Like Feta, and Just Like Shaved Parmesan—is fortified with B12, and free of all allergens, including soy.
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10Miyoko’s Creamery

Miyoko’s Creamery started from humble beginnings: it all began when founder, Miyoko Schinner, who has now parted with the brand, started experimenting with dairy-free recipes in her kitchen. Miyoko’s Creamery now offers a range of vegan cheese wheels, vegan mozzarella, and vegan cream cheese. Everything is gluten- and soy-free. 
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11Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart has deep Californian roots. The brand began all the way back in the 1970s, when the founders opened a natural food store in Canoga Park. It has evolved significantly since then, and now you can find Follow Your Heart products in stores all over the world. It offers a wide range of vegan, soy-free cheeses, including Dairy-Free Feta Crumbles, Parmesan Grated, Pepper Jack, and Cheddar. 
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Soy-free vegan recipes

For those with food intolerances or allergies, cooking shouldn’t mean sacrificing taste or nutrition. These soy-free vegan recipes are packed with delicious ingredients, they’re simple to make, and they’re good for you, too.

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1 Golden Vegan Jackfruit Empanaditas

These tasty empanaditas offer a delightful blend of textures—they’re satisfyingly meaty and tender on the inside, but deliciously crisp on the outside. They’re a crowd-pleasing treat that’s sure to become your new favorite soy-free meal.
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2 Vegan Banana, Almond Butter, and Cold-Brew Smoothie

This creamy, indulgent, plant-powered smoothie is made with a blend of coconut water and almond milk, so you can feel confident it’s totally soy-free. Frozen banana chunks, cinnamon, cacao nibs bring all the flavor, while cold brew coffee adds a kick of caffeine.
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3Fried Vegan Avocado Wedge Tacos

These smoky, slightly spicy tacos feature a golden-fried avocado wedge filling which goes beautifully with cool vegan sour cream and lime juice. If you want to change things up, you can also use the wedges as a unique and delicious pizza topping, too.
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4 Fluffy Vegan Oat Milk Pancakes

Sunday mornings call for pancakes. Your family will love devouring these oat milk pancakes, which are best topped with plenty of fresh berries, syrup, or whipped cream (or maybe a mix of all three?).
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5 Creamy Vegan Mushroom Fettuccine With Cashew Alfredo

For a super creamy, decadent dinner, try this vegan mushroom fettuccine recipe. It’s super simple, sophisticated, and incredibly delicious. Top tip: Serve with wine and garlic bread for extra indulgence.
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