Wondering if you can eat cheap ramen noodles on a vegetarian diet or even on a vegan diet? Well, I’ve got good news for you – yes, you can! But it’s not that simple. So keep reading to find out what you need to know about eating vegetarian ramen.
First: What, Exactly, Is Ramen?
Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour and oil, usually with a few extra ingredients for flavor, such as salt, or additional fillers such as potato starch - and that's it! All these ingredients are 100% vegetarian, and even 100% vegan!
So, then what's the problem with eating ramen noodles as a vegetarian or even as a vegan? It's the seasoning packets that accompany the noodles which are nearly always decidedly not vegetarian, as they usually contain such appetizing ingredients as "powdered cooked chicken" or "dehydrated beef extract". To be 100% clear: The ramen noodles themselves are vegetarian, but the little seasoning packets are usually not. But, keep reading...
The one major exception to this rule is Top Ramen brand Oriental flavor, which contains no animal ingredients at all, including in the flavoring packet and is both vegetarian and vegan. So by all means, stock up on this vegan ramen brand! Look for the blue Top Ramen packages at your grocery store. Top Ramen's chili flavored ramen is also vegetarian and vegan, though it is not as common as the Oriental flavor.
But be careful! Make sure you don't accidentally purchase Maruchan Oriental flavor, which is also in a blue package but is NOT vegetarian. If you want to make sure to purchase a vegetarian and vegan ramen, be sure you're getting Top Ramen brand. When in doubt, read the label!
Health food stores may carry vegetarian ramen noodle brands, though they aren't as cheap as you might expect, and if the main reason you eat ramen is that it's cheap, well, there’s no reason to purchase ramen if it's not budget-friendly! If it's convenience you’re after, then look for Soken brand vegetarian ramen (with such awesome flavors as "Spicy Dragon", "Bengal Curry" and Wasabi) or Dr. Mc Dougall's ramen noodle soup cups. These brands are clearly labeled as vegetarian or vegan, so there's no real need to read the ingredients list. And finally, though the package says "Vegetable" instead of "vegetarian", Koyo brand vegetable ramens are indeed vegetarian and vegan. If you can't find them locally, they're available pretty cheap on Amazon.
Some vegetarians and vegans choose to still purchase the ramen noodles and then just throw away the spice flavor packets and use their own seasonings, such as curry powder, hot sauce, or sesame oil and soy sauce or tamari. Whether or not this fits your definition of vegetarian is entirely up to you.
More Tips about Shopping for Vegetarian Ramen
- If there’s an Asian grocery store in your area, check to see if they carry vegetarian ramen, as chances are their prices will be a bargain compared to your regular grocer.
- Most grocery wholesalers stock ramen in bulk packages. The stuff lasts forever, so buy some vegetarian ramen in bulk and save some money!
Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Brands
- Top Ramen Oriental Flavor (the blue one)
- Top Ramen Chili Flavor (the green and black one)
- Soken Brand Ramen
- Dr. McDougall’s Ramen Noodle Cups
Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Recipes
Here are a few extra tips if you’re looking to save money on a vegetarian diet or eat cheaply with ramen noodles: