Can vegetarians and vegans eat ramen noodles? These brands yes

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  June 9, 2021

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Instant ramen is the go-to comfort food for many people. It’s cheap and easy to make, but is it suitable for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle?

Can vegetarians and vegans eat ramen noodles? These brands yes

Well, it depends on the brand. Some brands of instant ramen might appear to be vegan- or vegetarian-friendly at first glance, but when you actually look closer, you’ll see that they use animal products.

Also read: teriyaki sauce, is it vegan or do you need to watch out?

Are popular ramen brands vegan?

Unfortunately, most of the more well-known ramen noodle brands aren’t safe for vegetarians and vegans to eat.

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

I want to be clear, though, that this is not because of the noodles themselves. Ramen noodles are typically made from wheat flour, salt, and water, which are, of course, 100% vegan.

The issue comes in the flavoring packages. The popular instant ramen brand Maruchan uses animal products in all of its flavoring packages, even the ones that don’t seem like they would need them.

However, Nissin’s Top Ramen, Maruchan’s #1 competitor, has two flavors that are actually good for a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle: Soy Sauce (formerly Oriental) and Chili.

If you plan to go this route, make sure to read the label carefully when making the purchase, as Maruchan’s and Nissin’s Top Ramen’s packaging can look very similar.

If you want the vegan one, you need to make sure you’re buying Top Ramen.

And if you don’t like any of those options, some vegetarians choose to buy the noodles, throw away the seasoning packets, and just flavor them themselves.

The choice to do that depends on your personal definition of what it means to be vegan or vegetarian.

With this delicious vegan ramen noodle soup recipe you don’t have to miss out on flavor!

Cruelty-free ramen options

You might not be comfortable with the idea of throwing away seasoning packets and just using the noodles, or with buying food from a company that uses animal products in their foods even if you’re not actually consuming them.

If you are, don’t worry! You can still enjoy ramen.

In light of the recent rise of veganism and vegetarianism around the world, several brands have popped up that offer completely vegan ramen in a wide range of flavors.

However, keep in mind that some of these will not be as readily available as the Top Ramens or Maruchans of the world, and they may not be as cheap, either.

You’ll likely be able to find them in a health food store or Asian market, but not all of them will be on the average commercial grocery store shelf.

Also check out these 9 best ramen toppings to order or use when making ramen at home

Why are most ramen noodles not vegan?

Are ramen noodles vegan

The quick answer is, yes they’re safe to consume in vegan or vegetarian diets. However, there are few factors you need to note before purchasing the first pack you see.

Are Ramen Noodles Vegan? What’s In Them?

Ramen noodles are essentially made with a mix of wheat flour and oil. Some recipes call for the addition of salt and filler ingredients such as potato starch, but that’s pretty much it. So, the noodle itself is safe to be consumed on both vegan and vegetarian diets.

So, the main foundation of the ramen meal is vegan, does that make ramen noodles vegan?

Well, that’s where the process gets tricky. While noodles provided in instant ramen packs are vegan, the seasoning may not be. These seasoning packets are fundamentally made with ingredients such as beef extract which has been dehydrated or cooked chicken in powdered form.

This is why while the noodles themselves are vegan, the seasoning packets can break the deal. So, what exactly makes the ramen noodles not safe for vegans are the contents that make up the enticing ramen soup.

Is Ramen Soup Vegan?

Since the seasoning itself is what determines whether the ramen is vegan or not, the same can be said for ramen soup. Most ramen packs are made with seasoning that isn’t vegan.

To counter this issue, most vegans and vegetarians just buy the ramen noodle packs and throw away the seasoning included with it. To season the ramen themselves they opt for options like sesame oil, hot sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, curry powder and even tamari.

So, you can make your vegan seasoning and soup vegan by making it on your own. Otherwise, there are certain specifications you need to follow when it comes to instant ramen noodles and how you can find vegan options for them.

Also read: how to make vegan miso soup

Are Instant Ramen Noodles Vegan?

Well, the answer to that is entirely dependent on the brand you’re opting for along with its flavor. With Top Ramen, their Oriental flavor is the perfect vegan instant ramen noodle option. ​The seasoning contains no animal ingredient which makes it 100% vegetarian and vegan safe.

You can find the Top Ramen oriental flavoring in your local stores which makes this an accessible vegan option that you must stock up on. Their Chili flavored ramen is also a vegan-friendly option; however, you can’t find it as commonly as their Oriental flavor which can be identified by their blue color.

However, don’t confuse the Oriental from Top Ramen with Maruchan’s Oriental flavor. It has the same blue color; however,it’s not vegan friendly. Always double-check the label to cross out any doubts.

Vegan instant ramen noodles are definitely a thing, but some health food stores may be pricing them relatively higher than they should be. So, if you’re looking for some cheap comfort food, you definitely will have to look.

Some renowned vegan options for instant ramen noodles include Soken noodles and Dr Mc Dougall’s ramen soup noodle cups. Most of these have vegan and vegetarian written on top of them, so going into the nitty-gritty details may not be a requirement.

Also read: Where Are Ramen Noodles Made? What you might not know

Best Vegan Instant Ramen Noodles Brands

Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered with the best vegan ramen options you can find. All these options offer exciting flavors while maintaining the authentic taste of ramen we know you’re craving.

Here are our top vegan ramen noodles that are affordable and can be easily found on Amazon:

Dr McDougall’s Right Foods

Made with organic ramen, Dr McDougall’s is a cult favorite when it comes to options in vegan ramen. They offer a wide variety of cup noodle options, even a vegan chickenoption! If you’re in the mood for some pad Thai even, you got it. Our personal favorite is the Vegan Miso Ramen Noodle cup.

This is a certified vegan food brand that specializes in on-the-go foods. Not just ramen, but also other kinds of soups.

Their ramen flavors include a vegan chicken flavor and a miso flavor.

Nissin Top Ramen

Ah, the American favorite, Top Ramen. These ramen noodles are basically the leader of all ramen companies in America.  Their Soy Sauce Top Ramen is their most popular vegan option alongside their Chili variant.

Koyo Ramen

Koyo offers you a wide variety of vegan ramen options. From garlic pepper to shitake mushrooms, the flavors are immaculate and give you that authentic ramen spice that makes your taste buds want more. Our favorite is the Koyo Miso and Tofu ramen option.

Koyo makes organic, non-GMO, vegan ramen noodles in many different flavors, including but not limited to garlic pepper, tofu miso, and shiitake mushroom.

There’s definitely something there for everyone, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting your ramen fix.

Thai Kitchen Ramen Noodles

This gluten-free and vegan-friendly option gives tons of flavors to choose from. They offer the real oriental experience through flavors like Thai ginger, garlic, and vegetable, and our personal favorite the Thai Kitchen Spring Onion Ramen.

Lotus Foods

Another vegan option that’s also great for people with gluten allergies, Lotus Foods uses rice instead of wheat to make their ramen noodles.

They’ve got several different flavors as well, so you should be able to find one that works for you.

Lotus foods offer us an array of vegan flavors for ramen that is easily a gourmet treat. One of their most renowned flavors, and our personal favorite, is the gluten-free Millet ; Brown Rice Ramen with Miso Soup. They’re delicious, nutritious, and sustainably sourced too!

While these are our go-to vegan options, there are a variety of undiscovered brands that may even be better. Always make sure to check out the ingredient list and if it states “Natural Flavors” it’s best to steer clear from it. Additionally, you can always contact the company to inquire about the animal contained within the food itself.

Crystal Noodle Soup

Not only are all of Crystal Noodle Soup’s ramen flavors 100% vegan, but they’re also gluten-free, which makes them perfect for anyone who has a gluten allergy or other gluten-related dietary restrictions. You can still enjoy ramen.

Conclusion

Most popular ramen noodle brands are not vegan or vegetarian, but there are many brands out there that do sell vegan ramen options, and if you’re willing to get a little creative, you can even fix the more popular brands to be vegan as well.

Learn more about these substitutes for ramen noodles that are vegan friendly

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.