There are two types of ramen – the first one is the traditional ramen sold in ramen shops, where the noodles are immersed in a broth before being served.
The second type of ramen is instant ramen; the one typically sold in supermarkets, where you usually pour boiling water on top of the noodles, mix in the flavor powder, and let it sit for a couple of seconds.
Traditional ramen is not vegan because the broth is typically made with animal bones that create the base for the noodles and toppings. Aside from the broth, many ramen recipes also call for animal ingredients like meat and eggs, which are often served as toppings.
Most instant ramen is also not vegan, since many are flavored with chicken, beef, pork, and seafood; however, some brands have vegan instant ramen available.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about ramen.
Is Traditional Ramen Vegan?
The ramen sold in traditional ramen shops is not vegan because the broth is usually made with animal bones, and in most cases, the ramen is topped with meat or seafood.
The four most popular types of ramen are Shio, Tonkotsu, Shoyu, and Misu ramen. These typically include meat and eggs, so there’s no way they’re vegan.
Therefore, if you’re walking into a traditional ramen shop, don’t expect to be served vegan ramen. However, let me point out that it’s possible to find vegan ramen shops, or traditional ramen shops that have adjusted and included vegan options on their menu. You should be able to find several in Tokyo.
To make ramen, you usually need three core ingredients:
- And toppings.
Of course, I’m simplifying the entire process, but as long as you have these three components, you can create ramen. Depending on the different toppings you add, you can make a specific type of ramen (Shio, Tonkotsu, Shoyu, Misu, etc).
As long as you guarantee that the broth is made with vegetables, then it’s just a question of topping the ramen with more vegetables and perhaps a few slices of tofu.
Is Instant Ramen Vegan?
Instant Ramen is what you eat at 3 AM after a raid in World of Warcraft.
Not the healthiest food, but it feels stupendously good when you’re famished.
However, like traditional ramen, most instant ramen is not suitable for vegans because many of the flavors are based on meat and seafood. The instant ramen in the image above has a chicken flavor, so you can easily tell that it’s not a vegan-friendly option.
Some flavors might not mention meat, but they might contain milk or eggs, so it’s always recommended that you read the list of ingredients on the label.
Which Brands Have Vegan-Friendly Options?
From what I’ve researched, the brand ‘Top Ramen’ has a few accidental vegan options, namely the Soy Sauce and Chili flavors, but every other ‘Top Ramen’ flavor revolves around meat and seafood.
Annie Chun’s is another brand of instant ramen with vegan flavors that you can find in big retail stores like Walmart, as well as Amazon. They’ve got at least 4-5 vegan flavors, including:
- Kung Pao
- Pad Thai
- Soy Garlic
- Sweet Chilli
- and Yakisoba.
Naughty Noah’s is also a great choice and it also has a good variety of flavors such as Holy Hot Pepper, Curry Masala, and Don’t Be a Boar – which seem quite interesting.
If you are shopping online, there’s only the option to buy packs, and since most people buy them from Amazon, there is also the shipping cost, unless you meet the order value for free shipping.
While I can’t promise that you will be able to find these options in supermarkets near you, I’m certain that you can find them on Amazon.
Homemade Vegan Ramen
If you can’t find traditional vegan ramen or instant vegan ramen, the next best option is to make your vegan ramen at home. Let’s face it, instant ramen is nothing like traditional ramen, so if you want to come close to tasting traditional vegan ramen, making a homemade recipe is the best thing you can do.
BBC Good Food shares a recipe of their own, with only four steps. Have a look at the recipe here.
Another recipe I’ve tried is one from the Minimalist Baker. A 10-ingredient recipe that takes 30 minutes to prepare but 2 hours and 30 minutes of cooking time. This one takes longer, but it’s worth it.
This one is also packed with many of the nutrients vegans need to feel strong and healthy!
I’m not sure how experienced you are at cooking, but one issue I have found while cooking vegan food is that I’m not very good a flavoring my food, so the result is sometimes bland. That’s why I like following highly reviewed recipes like the one above, because I know others have tried it, and the result was great.
The Minimalist Baker typically creates delicious recipes, and many of them are vegan. Also, even though it might seem like too much, she makes recipes with more than 4-5 different ingredients, which for vegans is important because we need a variety of nutrients in our diet.
Traditional ramen and instant ramen are typically not suitable for vegans.
Unfortunately, for traditional ramen, the broth is usually made with animal bones, and the toppings usually revolve around meat and seafood items. However, certain restaurants cook vegan ramen, but that’s not the standard.
Instant ramen also revolves around meat and seafood flavors, but you can also occasionally find vegan flavors.
If you can’t find vegan ramen options, the next best thing is to cook vegan ramen at home by starting with a vegetable broth and replacing the meat and eggs often present in ramen. Ingredients like lentils, beans, and tofu are some protein options you can use to replace meat and eggs.
Is Top Ramen vegan?
Most Top Ramen flavors are not suitable for vegans as they revolve around meat and seafood flavors, but Top Ramen also has two vegan-friendly flavors, namely the Soy Sauce and Chili flavors.
Is Shin Ramen vegan?
Most Shin Ramen flavors are not suitable for vegans, but they have two vegan-friendly flavors: Spicy Veggie Ramen and Kimchi Flavor Ramen.
Is Maruchan Ramen vegan?
Maruchan Ramen doesn’t have any vegan flavors, not even the Chili and Soy flavors. If you want to find vegan instant ramen, brands like Top Ramen and Shin Ramen have vegan-friendly flavors.
Is Jin Ramen vegan?
Jin Ramen is a ramen noodle shop in New York City that is not vegan, but they serve meatless options if you’re looking to have some vegan ramen.
Is Nongshim Ramen vegan?
While Nongshim is not a vegan brand, they have a few vegan options available, including the Soon noodle soup.