A warm bowl of delicious ramen noodles in the chilly winter weather!
Nothing can lift up my mood more quickly than this. Yes! We Japanese are kinda obsessed with ramen.
The popularity of this pure delicacy is now increasing with time, and it has now spread worldwide beyond the borders of our country.
So, many foreigners also want to grab the opportunity to taste this dish, but those who are vegetarians become confused about whether to eat it or not.
And that’s why today I am here to answer the question, can vegetarians eat ramen noodles?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Confusing, right?
Vegetarians can only eat most of the ramen noodles as they usually don’t contain any non-vegetarian products, but the seasoning or flavoring packets that accompany the noodles are not vegetarian. So, the problem lies in the seasoning packets, not in the noodles themselves.
Anyway, it doesn’t end the answer. I still have many more to explain. Just stay with me to know the details.
What about starting with some quick facts about ramen before diving deeper?
What Is Ramen and What About Its Origin?
Japanese noodle soup dish ramen is widely popular in Japan and all around the world.
You will find thousands of variations, but the dish basically includes a broth base, long thin noodles, and various types of toppings.
The origins of ramen can be traced back to China, and it is not clear precisely when it was introduced to Japan. However, later on, ramen gradually became a mainstay of Japanese cuisine.
Though you will find ramen in the U.S. as packaged dried noodles, the way to understand ramen truly is to think of it as a soup dish that contains noodles, not just the noodles themselves.
Now, let’s get to the main point.
Are Ramen Noodles Vegan and Vegetarian?
The answer is, as usual, complicated.
Okay, let me explain it.
Ramen noodles are made from flour, wheat, and oil. A few extra ingredients such as salt and potato starch are also used for flavor and additional fillers – that’s it!
All the ingredients I mentioned here are 100% vegetarian and even 100% vegan!
Let’s know about them in detail to make it more clear.
What Are Ramen Noodles Made with?
The typical ingredients that you will find in any instant ramen noodle or traditional ramen noodles are:
Plant-based dieters should have no issue consuming these vegan ramen noodles made from wheat flour.
A certain amount of water is added to ramen to hydrate the mixture and to make proper dough.
To enhance ramen’s flavor and strengthen the gluten structures in the dough, earth-based minerals are also used. It also contributes to the yellow color of instant ramen noodles.
Some companies use Kansui (alkaline mineral water) instead of salt. It improves the color, texture, and flavor, just as salt does.
Instant ramens are often flash-fried with palm oil before dehydrating them.
Potato starch improves the instant noodles’ gelling properties to make them chewier, smoother, and shinier.
Baking soda makes a popular substitute for alkaline salt or kansui.
So, all the ingredients in the noodles are vegan and vegetarian. Then what is the problem in eating ramen noodles as a vegetarian or even as a vegan? Right?
Well, the problem lies in the seasoning packets or flavor packets of instant ramen that accompany the noodles, as I said earlier. Most popular brands do contain animal products like powdered beef, chicken, or shrimp.
You will more likely see some of the following ingredients in an instant seasoning packet, though countless flavor options make it difficult to limit the ingredient list.
I already mentioned powdered beef, chicken, or shrimp. These are popular options, though you may find some vegetarian flavors instead.
Yeast extract is used to reduce added salt and MSG ( monosodium glutamate) to decrease sodium levels in the broth.
Onion powder, herbs, and spices:
The broth’s flavor is naturally enhanced with these plant-based additions.
Dried veggies increase the nutritional value of instant noodles while also adding a pop of color to them.
Dried soy sauce:
The addition of classic umami broth flavor and some extra salt are done by soy sauce.
Salt, MSG & TBHQ:
All of these are flavor enhancers and preservatives, but TBHQ and MSG aren’t the healthiest additions to our food.
Sugar enhances the sweetness and balances the salty broth flavor.
So, we have seen that the main ingredient of seasoning packets is dried meat, which creates issues for vegetarians.
Therefore, we can conclude this part by saying that the ramen noodles themselves are vegetarian and vegan, but the little seasoning packets are usually not.
Some vegetarians still buy instant ramen noodles and eat them, throwing the flavoring packets away. They season the plain noodles themselves by adding plant-based flavor according to their taste.
However, you might not be comfortable with this idea.
But no need to be disheartened, my dear! This is not the only way for you to eat ramen.
Though most popular ramen brands are vegan, you can still find some tasty vegan ramen noodles.
Well, I am not telling you to find them yourself. Just stay with me till the end, and I am letting you know.
Vegetarian and Vegan Ramen Noodles Brands
Take a browse through our list to enjoy a warm bowl of ramen without any worries.
- Nissin’s Top Ramen (Soy Sauce Flavor and Chili Flavor)
- Annie Chun’s Spicy Miso Ramen and Shoyu Ramen
- Sahmyook Spicy Ramen
- Mike’s Mighty Good Vegetarian Coconut Lemongrass Ramen
- Nongshim Soon Veggie Noodle Soup
- Ocean’s Halo Organic and Vegan Beef Noodle Bowl
- Noma Lim Fresh Traditional Ramen Noodles and Miso Ramen Broth (sold separately)
- Thai Kitchen (Spring Onion, Garlic & Vegetable, and Thai Ginger flavors)
So, you do not have to deprive yourself of eating ramen. Now try any of these ramens and relish the blast of flavors in your mouth!
Well, even if you are not eating them, you might not be comfortable with purchasing food from a company that utilizes animal products in their foods.
Okay, don’t worry if your situation is like this. You can still enjoy ramen.
With the recent rise of veganism and vegetarianism around the world, several brands have popped up that provide completely vegan ramen in a vast range of flavors.
Anyway, you need to keep in mind that some of them will not be readily available, like the Top Ramens and other popular brands. And they won’t be cheap either.
You May Read:
Cruelty-Free Vegan Instant Ramen Options
Check out these vegan ramen brands. You can also eat them if you are a vegetarian.
- Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods Chicken-Flavor Vegan Ramen
- Koyo Ramen (garlic pepper, tofu miso, and shiitake mushroom flavors)
- Crystal Noodle Soup
- Lotus Foods Rice Ramen and Rice Ramen Soup Cups
Now, go for any of these options and enjoy a hot bowl of ramen without any hesitations.
However, are you tired of eating instant ramen noodles and want to try something homemade?
Then the following section is for you.
Homemade Vegetarian Ramen Noodles Recipe
Wanna enjoy a hearty, comfortable, and deeply satisfying meal with a bowl of delicious ramen noodles?
Don’t think that it is not possible as you are a vegetarian. Here I am adding a common mouth-watering vegan ramen noodles recipe for you.
- 1 tablespoon of grapeseed or avocado oil
- 1 3-inch piece ginger (peeled and diced)
- 5 roughly chopped cloves garlic
- 1 medium coarsely chopped yellow onion
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 0.5 ounces dehydrated shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of yellow or white miso paste (make sure it is vegan friendly)
- 8 ounces ramen noodles (ensure vegan-friendliness on the package)
- 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil for flavor
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 10 ounces extra-firm tofu (flash-fried)
- Miso-glazed carrots
- Miso-glazed baby bok choy
- Keep a large pot over medium-high heat, and add the oil, garlic, ginger, and onion when it becomes hot.
- Saute for 5 to 8 minutes by stirring it occasionally until the onion develops browned edges.
- Now, add 1 cup of the vegetable stock to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Use a whisk to scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom. It will help improve the flavor of the broth.
- Add the remaining 5 cups vegetable stock, tamari or soy sauce, and mushrooms and stir it. Now bring it to boil over medium heat.
- Then lower the heat and cover the pan. Simmer for at least one hour by stirring 2 to 3 times occasionally. The longer you cook it, the more the flavor will be intense and deep.
- Taste the broth, adjust seasonings as needed, and add the miso paste at this moment.
- Now it’s time to prepare the noodles. Take water in a big saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, following the package instructions. Set the noodles aside after draining the water.
- Strain the broth and reserve mushrooms for serving.
- Take the ramen noodles in a serving bowl and top with strained broth and the toppings.
- You may consider serving with chili garlic sauce for added heat.
This dish tastes best when freshly served, but you can store the broth separately for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and one month in the freezer.
You can enjoy a homemade ramen noodles bowl by following this recipe, even if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
Anyway, in case you are a vegetarian, not vegan, you may also use boiled eggs as topping to make it more delicious and protein-rich.
Well, I have nothing more to inform you. Let’s end it here.
So, can vegetarians eat ramen noodles? Hopefully, you have already got your answer in an elaborate way.
Besides clearing this fact, I also informed you of vegetarian ramen brands and even included a homemade recipe for your convenience.
Now it’s time to say goodbye.
Thanks for being with me till now.