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Answer: No. All Maruchan Ramen flavors contain animal products or by-products, such as beef fat and beef extracts obtained directly from dead animals.
Alongside Nissin Top Ramen noodles, Maruchan Ramen noodles are one of the most common noodles available. They appeal to most people because, firstly, they’re cost-effective – for example, a pack of Maruchan Ramen Chicken Flavor Noodle Soup goes for only about $3. Secondly, these noodles take a couple of minutes to prepare. So, if you’re short on time or a budget, they present a quick meal. Plus, if you’re not in a hurry, you can have your main meal but use Maruchan Ramen noodles to enhance the dish. The main drawback is that, sadly, they’re not vegan.
Why Maruchan Ramen Is Not Vegan
There are over ten flavors, all made from 100% vegan ingredients, including salt, oil, and wheat flour as the main item, but none of Maruchan ramen noodles is vegan. Why? You might be wondering. Well, all these noodles are seasoned with either animal products or by-products to achieve the different flavors. For instance, the chicken flavor contains powdered cooked chicken, while the beef flavor has beef fat.
What’s more, noodles manufacturers from Maruchan also deal with fish products in the same facility, so, as you could agree now, they’re nowhere near a vegan diet.
A Closer Look At The Top Five Maruchan Ramen Flavors
1. Soy Sauce Flavor
Soy Sauce is formerly oriental flavor, and unsurprisingly, it might seem a vegan option, but don’t let the name-blind you.
Among its listed ingredients, which almost all are vegan, is a beef extract obtained from dead animals. It accounts for about 1%, and to be fair. These noodles don’t taste like beef. All in all, it’s just that small percentage that disqualifies Maruchan Ramen soy sauce flavor from being a vegan diet. So, let’s pass this one.
2. Shrimp Flavor
Among the vegan ingredients is too much shrimp flavor, even though the noodles don’t taste like shrimp.
But the flavor is obtained directly from shrimp, which is non-vegan seafood. Worse yet, the scent of the noodles is not what you’d like. Let’s pass this, also.
3. Chili Flavor
Again, another controversial flavor because of its name, although according to most vegan food reviewers, this option has just a hint of chili taste. What a bold assumption by the company!
Anyway, what disqualifies it from a non-vegan diet is the beef fat and extract used as a flavoring. If it’s a chili flavor, why should it have a beef taste? Perhaps to make it non-vegan.
4. Chicken Flavor
The chicken flavor is the best selling flavor according to the Maruchan Ramen website, and from the name only, sure, you’re getting a non-vegan diet. You don’t need to read more of this flavor, agreeably.
5. Beef Flavor
The beef flavor is another straightforward non-vegan option. It has an intense umami flavor, thanks to the beef extract. Even vegans confess to adding water in the last sips of the broth to help dilute the flavor!
Health And Nutrition
Like all ramen noodles, Maruchan Ramen is very rich in sodium, an essential mineral your body needs to function. According to MyFoodDiary, the chicken flavor contains 720 mg, while beef and soy sauce flavors have 780 mg each in a packet.
Insufficient sodium in the body risks adverse health effects, and the WHO has set 2 g as the daily recommended intake of the mineral.
That might make ramen noodles seemingly a safe bet. However, consuming too much of it, above the daily recommendation, can take its toll on your health as it increases the chances of heart-related diseases as well as stomach cancer.
Such is the case with ramen noodles, as taking a single package a day puts you well on that road. Remember, the indicated amount of sodium in every packet is for a single serving, and a pack has two servings! And worse, because they’re inexpensive and quick to prepare, you may end up consuming two in a day. So, in the end, you end up consuming more sodium than you should in a day.
Due to the health issues brought about by the high sodium intake, Maruchan Ramen offers some chicken and beef flavor options with 25% less sodium. Yes, this might reduce sodium, but with less salt in any food, you can guess the taste to be flat. That’s the case with these 25% fewer sodium flavors, and one would ask, why take something unhealthy that still tastes bland?
It’s true Maruchan Ramen noodles pack high amounts of calories, with one pack containing about 190 mg. But you don’t need to go the non-vegan way to obtain them. You can get your calories from vegan-friendly foods, including avocado, which provides you with a whole 240 mg per serving. Better deal? Of course, and you won’t slaughter a single animal!
What’s more, Maruchan Ramen lacks essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamins A and C, while it contains only traces of proteins. They also fall short in antioxidants, which are necessary for preventing or slowing damage to body cells.
More Health Concerns Associated With Maruchan Ramen
To enhance the Maruchan Ramen noodles’ shelf life, they contain preservatives that are not good news for your health when taken in large amounts. For instance, the beef flavor is preserved with tetra-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ) obtained from animal fats. Whatever the source, a high dose of TBHQ may negatively impact your neuro system as well as the liver, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
And to make the noodles palatable, Maruchan Ramen uses Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a popular food additive. While some people are sensitive to MSG, its consumption may lead to adverse health effects, including weakness, headaches, and nausea, to mention a few.
Maruchan Ramen Top Four Alternatives
If you want to ensure you’re consuming 100% vegan ramen noodles, there are two options; make yours at home, or look for brands that label their ramen packages’ vegan’.
Here, we’re going with the second and the easy option. And thankfully, several trustworthy and popular brands offer 100% vegan ramen noodles, starting with Right Foods from Dr. McDougall.
1. Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods
Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods is a famous brand in North America known for its vegan ramen noodles.
They offer some of the healthiest vegan options you can have, albeit a bit expensive. You can choose from their varieties of in-cup-options, including Vegan Pad Thai Noodle that uses plant-based ingredients. This particular flavor is perhaps the most healthy of all Ramen noodles, both vegan and non-vegan, as it has the lowest amount of sodium with its 290gms per serving. So the high price is justified.
Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods also offer a chicken flavor in Ramen Chicken Soup, which consists of Organic Ramen Noodles. So, if you crave some chicken flavor without going the vegan way, you can always have them.
2. Nissin Top Ramen
It comes from Nissin, the most popular ramen noodles brand in North America, and also the main competitor of Maruchan Ramen. It’s the most convenient option, and unsurprisingly, available in all parts of America.
You can get two vegan flavors, including sauce and chili.
Both Nissin’s Top Ramen Soy Sauce Flavor and Chili Flavor use 100% vegan ingredients, including palm oil, caramel color, and sugar. Some people might have some reservations about these particular ingredients, but you shouldn’t worry a bit as all have been certified as vegan.
3. Nissin’s Cup Noodles
Another excellent alternative for Maruchan Ramen noodles from Nissin, again. Since they are from Nissin, you can find these ramen noodles in many parts of North America.
You can choose Cup Noodles Very Veggie Soy Sauce, made entirely from vegetables including edamame, carrots, and bok choy.
They’re also more flavors, such as chicken and beef broth, that use completely vegan ingredients even though Nissin processes them in the same facilities that deal with non-vegetarians ramen noodles.
4. Nongshim’s Soon Veggie Ramen Noodle Soup
Here are the super delicious and probably the best ramen noodles made from 100% vegan ingredients.
This product has a ‘vegan’ label right on the package, like many of the ramen vegan noodles.
What’s more, it has no added Monosodium glutamate (MSG), so it poses fewer health concerns, unlike Maruchan Ramen noodles.
Other alternatives for Maruchan Ramen noodles from less known brands include garlic pepper from Koyo, Thai ginger from Thai Kitchen, purple potato from Lotus Foods.
If you want more nutritious vegan ramen noodles, be sure to check out Spicy Tofu Ramen from Crystal Noodles, which packs some proteins.
When buying from these unpopular brands, remember to read the ingredients keenly, and in case of contradiction, you can always contact the company to confirm if you’re getting 100% vegan products.