Your Vegan Ramen Isn’t Vegan

This post was never supposed to happen. This was supposed to be a ranking of NYC’s best veggie ramen. However, I accidentally discovered something completely devastating in the process.

I discovered that most of NYC’s veggie ramen is not vegan.

Rewind to a few weeks ago, when I came up with the idea to eat & rank vegan ramen from all the best places in NYC. After a bit of research, I curated a list of 18 the most highly-regarded ramen restaurants that also have a veggie option. However, I wanted to make sure their vegetarian ramen was 100% vegan before I went.

So I picked up my phone and started calling the restaurants. It was then that I learned that a good majority of the vegetarian/vegan options at these places (including places where I’ve eaten in the past as a vegan) are NOT vegan. Many also falsely mark their vegetarian options as vegan on their menus, which makes it even more misleading. I even discovered one place where the vegetarian option is made with meat (Totto Ramen; explained below).

I’m not writing this blog post to attack or “expose” these ramen places, I’m more doing this because I know a lot of vegans out there love ramen and go out to eat ramen in NYC, so I thought this might be useful for them.

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Ivan Ramen’s vegetarian bowl I had last summer (not vegan)

Out of the 18 places listed below, 9 of them (in red) are not vegan, as they exclusively use egg noodles, 5 (in yellow) use egg noodles but have other noodle options, and 4 (in green) have 100% vegan options.

  • Totto
  • Mokbar
  • Misoya
  • Hide-chan
  • Kogane
  • Chuko
  • Mr. Taka
  • Ramen Shack
  • Ganso
  • Ippudo
  • Mentoku
  • Ivan Ramen
  • Bassanova 
  • Ramen-Ya
  • Nakamura
  • Rai Rai Ken
  • Shuya Cafe De Ramen
  • Ramen Ishida 

NOT VEGAN: 

  • TOTTO: This place COOKS THEIR NOODLES IN CHICKEN BROTH, so even their veggie ramen (which uses vegetarian broth) is not vegetarian. When I asked if they could cook the noodles in regular water, I was told no.
  • MOKBAR: Their veggie option, which is advertised as VEGAN, is not in fact vegan; their noodles have egg powder. Can sub rice for noodles.
  • MISOYA: Uses egg noodles. Can sub rice for noodles.
  • HIDE-CHAN: Uses egg noodles.
  • KOGANE: Uses egg noodles
  • CHUKO: Uses egg noodles. Was told they are working on an egg-free version, so hopefully they debut that soon.
  • MR. TAKA: Uses egg noodles
  • RAMEN SHACK: Uses egg noodles.
  • GANSO: Uses egg noodles. Can sub rice for noodles.

Side note: A few of these places (Mokbar, Misoya, and Ganso), say you can substitute rice for the noodles, but doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of going to a noodle shop?

USES EGG NOODLES BUT HAS OTHER NOODLE OPTIONS: 

  • IPPUDO: The wasabi shoyu option is vegan if you sub rice noodles for the regular noodles. All other vegetarian options are NOT vegan.
  • MENTOKU: Ask for rice noodles instead of the regular noodles.
  • IVAN RAMEN: Ask for tofu noodles instead of the regular noodles.
  • BASSANOVA: Ask for rice noodles instead of the regular noodles. Also make sure to ask for no ginger onion flakes, which are fried in animal fat.
  • RAMEN-YA: Ask for tofu noodles instead of the regular noodles.

One thing I wonder is why these ramen places don’t advertise the fact that they have other noodle options– I never knew that so many places had the option to sub tofu/rice noodles for the egg noodles.

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Ippudo’s spicy sesame ramen (vegetarian but not vegan) [PC Amanda <3]
100% VEGAN OPTION(S) AVAILABLE (NO SUBS NECESSARY): 

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It exists! ACTUAL vegan ramen from Ramen Ishida [PC Amanda <3]
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20 thoughts on “Your Vegan Ramen Isn’t Vegan

  1. This truly has me wondering about “vegan” options at restaurants. Is this even legal? Can’t these businesses technically be sued? I always assumed they HAD to label them appropriately.

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  2. I stopped going to these pseudo veg places many years ago….. could just tell from the waiters, chefs arrogance they aren’t trying very hard to be vegan. Do you really think in a busy restaurant kitchen when there are 2 pots on the stove one supposed to be vegan and the other not that they are using different spoons to stir. Ha!!!! It’s too gross to even contemplate the animal products we are given under the guise of being vegan. Why not go to 100% vegan spots….they should be receiving your $.

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    1. I think this article is super useful. Most of us don’t have all vegan friends, family and coworkers and don’t always have the option of dictating where a group is going to eat when someone else is organizing or hosting. I also think it’s important to create demand for vegan options in mainstream restaurants, so even non vegans will have vegan options :)

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