Answer: It depends.
Samyang Foods is one of the largest producers of instant ramen around the world. They are known for their extremely hot and spicy flavors. The 3x spice flavors are some of the hottest flavors you will ever eat. But is Samyang ramen vegan?
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Is Samyang Ramen Vegan?
The simple answer is yes – it is vegan. The caveat to this statement is that it’s largely dependent on the flavor and type of ramen you opt for. Only 2x Hot Chicken flavor is vegan as it has artificial flavoring instead of chicken-derived flavoring.
In recent years, spicy ramen flavors have become part of pop culture. The ‘Spicy Noodle Challenge’ made Samyang ramen an internet sensation, with thousands of people uploading videos of the challenge.
While certain flavors, such as the 2x Spice Hot Chicken Flavor, are considered vegan, Regular Flavor is not.
This piece will break down if Samyang ramen is safe for your vegan lifestyle and what to be careful about.
Ingredients of the 2X Hot Chicken Flavor
The 2x Hot Chicken Flavor is the most popular flavor made by Samyang Foods. Here are its ingredients:
- Wheat Flour (52%)
- Palm Oil (11%)
- Wheat Gluten
- Soybean Oil
- Acidity Regulator
- Tapioca Starch (12%)
- E501 (Food Additive)
- E412 (Natural Food Additive)
- E339 (Food Additive)
- E452 (Artificial Phosphate)
- E330 (Preservative)
- E322 (Lecithin)
- E101 (Artificial Color)
- Red Pepper Powder
- Artificial Chicken Flavor Powder
- Soybean Oil
- Soy Sauce
- Yeast Extract Powder
- White Sugar
- Onion Powder
- Black Pepper Powder
- Chilli Extract
- Garlic Powder
- Curry Powder
- Tapioca Starch
In a single serving of 140g, the nutrients are as follows:
- Energy – 1629kJ
- Fats – 12.1g
- Saturated Fats – 5.7g
- Trans Fats – 0g
- Total Carbs – 60.7g
- Sugar – 5g
- Dietary Fibers – 0.7g
- Cholesterol – 0g
- Protein – 9.3g
- Sodium – 971mg
Is Samyang Ramen Healthy?
Instant ramen is considered an emergency food or a cheap alternative to your daily meals. They were created in Asian countries with the aim of ease and simplicity. Today the world consumes an astonishing amount of instant noodles and ramen.
Preservatives and Additives
They are notoriously high in preservatives and artificial food additives. Most of these preservatives and additives are not natural. They are chemically made.
Preservatives and additives are proven to disrupt the hormones that indicate how full we are. Some also affect fertility and puberty hormones. These chemical products are also addictive and increase symptoms of ADHD.
Regular or daily consumption of Samyang ramen is not recommended. It is associated with high blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes in the long term.
A 2017 study in ‘Nutrition Research and Practice’ found that high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels (cardiometabolic risk factors) are associated with regular instant noodles or ramen consumption.
High levels of sodium negatively impact the body. While less sodium is a problem, too much of it also has adverse effects. High sodium intake increases the chances of stomach cancer, heart disease, and strokes.
Your recommended daily sodium intake should be 2g, as said by the WHO. One packet of Samyang ramen contains almost 50% of your recommended daily intake of sodium.
Some people, who might be salt-sensitive, might also develop kidney issues due to high sodium levels.
Lack of Nutrition
Samyang ramen lacks the basic nutrients required for a healthy body. Protein and fiber, while present, are in such low quantities that they don’t add any substantial nutrition to the body.
They also lack vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and B12. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium are also absent.
Antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are a necessary addition to the body, are not present. These are essential to the body and are available in many fresh foods.
Samyang ramen is high in calories. This only adds empty calories, which don’t provide any nutritional value to the body. A single package (which serves 2) packs a minimum of 370 calories.
Samyang ramen, while extremely tasty, does not add any nutritional value to the body. You should consume it only occasionally.
Is Samyang Ramen Safe for Vegans?
The 2x Hot Chicken Flavor of Samyang ramen is a safe addition to your vegan lifestyle.
Unlike the other flavors, which rely on chicken-derived flavoring, the 2x Hot Chicken flavor uses artificial flavoring, which is not derived from animals.
The noodles, made from wheat flour, are also 100% vegan.
The ingredients in the flavoring and noodles are vegan, but there is a slight caveat to this statement. This mainly involves artificial chicken flavoring, lecithin, and palm oil in the noodles and cross-contamination. These are ingredients that might not necessarily fit into your vegan lifestyle.
Artificial Chicken Flavoring
The artificial chicken flavor consists of the protein hydrolysate, hexose, and an arachidonic acid compound.
Flavor-enhancing ingredients such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), Mertaste, vegetable oils, and lactose may be added during production.
The presence of lactose, albeit not always, automatically makes the flavoring non-vegan. Lactose is a dairy product and violates the core value of veganism, that no product should come from an animal.
Usually, if there is no mention of natural flavors or animal ingredients, artificial flavoring is vegan-friendly.
Lecithin is a fatty substance used in baking. In the case of Samyang ramen, it is an ingredient used for making noodles.
Lecithin is derived from eggs, soybeans, or sunflower seeds.
It is mainly used in the process of making instant noodles. It facilitates emulsion during the kneading process and ensures the ingredients are evenly mixed.
The stability of noodles during the dehydration process is also provided by lecithin. The crispiness, chewing feel, and elasticity of your instant noodles are aided mainly by lecithin.
Lecithin, in most cases, is derived from soybeans but can also be derived from egg yolks. Since there is no way of guaranteeing lecithin’s origin, the choice is ultimately yours.
Veganism is not just about animals but is about saving the environment as a whole. Many ingredients are obtained in methods that have adverse effects on the environment. One such ingredient is palm oil.
In the 2x Hot Chicken Flavor of Samyang Ramen, palm oil is used to make the noodles. Palm oil is used by many companies mainly because it is cheap. It also has similar effects on food compared to other oils. This makes it an efficient and cost-cutting ingredient.
The issue with palm oil is the heavy stress it puts on ecosystems. Over the past few years, the demand for palm oil has exponentially increased. This has led to the mass cutting of trees and deforestation of land.
Palm oil mainly comes from areas in Asia, Africa, and Brazil. This has led to habitat loss for many orangutans and other animals.
Extracting the oil is extremely dangerous and puts workers’ lives at stake. The rights and humanity of these workers are often violated for the sake of production and profits.
The way the palm oil industry functions is detrimental to humans, animals, and plants. Most in the vegan community are firmly against using of palm oil in food products. Veganism is about saving the environment and ensuring we are kinder to nature as a whole.
The 2x Hot Chicken ramen is manufactured in facilities that process eggs, chicken, crustaceans, fish, and milk. This can cause cross-contamination between the different foods produced at the same facility.
While many vegans compromise on this aspect of food, you may be different. There is a high chance the same people or machinery which handled meat went on to produce your ramen.
Samyang’s 2x Hot Chicken Flavor ramen is vegan-friendly. Other flavors, such as Regular or Korean, are not entirely plant-based. They may have animal-derived flavoring or ingredients.
While the 2x Hot Chicken flavor is technically vegan, many other factors affect its vegan status. There is no definitive way of concluding that the ramen is 100% vegan.
On a technical level, Samyang Ramen does not hurt any animals during its production. The decision to consume it is entirely personal. Whether to dive deeper into nuances, like the origin of lecithin or the presence of lactose, is your choice.
There’s nothing wrong with having some spicy ramen that will set your mouth on fire! Just remember to have it only occasionally.