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04 Apr, 2022

Plant-based live and active cultures: the health benefits and where to look for it.

The majority of modern literature points towards probiotics as the key to good gut health, and encourages us to incorporate them regularly into our diet to encourage ‘friendly bacteria’ and a good gut health environment to build a stronger microbiome (read our lowdown on probiotics and prebiotics here). However, though we can trust in kimchi, sauerkraut and fermented soy products for plant-based probiotics, yoghurt and kefir are also a great source of probiotics as they contain live cultures with tons of potential health benefits. But can you find live cultures in vegan yoghurt and kefir? We know we love our plant-based yoghurts - a lot of supermarket brands have killed it with the taste and texture - and often reach for them from the supermarket shelves, but we suddenly thought that it is not obvious whether they were offering the probiotic properties that we can expect from dairy yoghurt.


First off, let us break down the amazing health benefits that the live and active cultures, namely L. bulgacarius and S. thermophilus, in yoghurt and kefir can provide:

  • They are the most powerful probiotic foods out there and can help ease digestion and harvest good bacteria for your gut microbiome to flourish.
  • They are full of Vitamin B12, D and magnesium, phosphate and calcium.
  • They can improve bone health and lower the risks of osteoporosis.
  • They have antibiotic properties.

Now, we can imagine you’re keen to get your hands on it! But where to find it, as yoghurt and kefir are usually consumed as fermented forms of dairy? They are traditionally made by adding cultured bacteria to dairy milk in the case of yoghurt, and kefir grains to dairy milk for kefir which then multiply and ferment the sugars in the milk. However, cultured bacteria can also be added to plant-based yoghurt alternatives and kefir grain can be prepared in non-dairy beverages.

There are a wide variety of great plant-based yoghurts and kefir on the market. However, we discovered that it is important to read your labels first, as all vegan yoghurt substitutes won’t necessarily have live cultures added. Here are a few of our favourites that we discovered happen to be powerful sources of probiotics too:

  1. The Coconut Collaborative. All their yoghurts and flavours are great, super creamy whilst not feeling too rich.
  2. Coyo. For a slightly thicker texture and richer flavour, Coyo’s coconut yoghurt is a great option with added live cultures. They also do delicious coconut-based kefir drinks too.
  3. Nush. Nush add live cultures to all their products. We love their almond yoghurts and cream cheese style spreads.
  4. Oatly. For another dairy-free yoghurt that isn’t coconut based, Oatly’s oat yoghurt or ‘oatghurt’ is a great option with a nice thick texture. They also add extra live cultures to their yoghurts, such as L. casei, L. acidophilus and B. lactis.

Our super probiotic smoothie

One of our go-tos for a healthy dose of probiotics to slip slowly and leisurely in the morning, or take on the go, or as a quick pick-me-up snack. Packed with all the fruit and veg you need for some essential nutrients whilst also tasting delicious and sweet and seemingly indulgent with the added creaminess of the coconut yoghurt. You can always double up the recipe to make enough for 2 servings and have the second the following day to save you time.

Makes 1 serving.


  • 1 banana 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 100g frozen blueberries
  • 2 tbsp coconut yoghurt
  • 150ml oat milk


  1. Whizz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. You can always add more oat milk or water to thicken if you wish.