So which noodles are vegan in Japan? As a general rule, udon noodles and soba noodles are vegan, while ramen noodles are not. (The soup or sauce that comes with udon, soba and ramen in restaurants contains animal products like fish stock, etc.). However, udon and soba noodles are not always vegan, so vegans still need to be careful to check for animal ingredients. Below are some examples of vegan and non-vegan noodles in Japan.
How about pasta? That’s not such a problem. Further below are some examples of vegan and non-vegan pasta.
The first soba is not vegan as it contains egg white (卵白):
• Yude (boiling) Japanese Soba. Ingredients: Wheat flour, buckwheat flour, wheat protein, egg white, salt.
The soba below appears to be vegan.
• Nama (raw) Soba. Ingredients: Wheat flour, buckwheat flour, salt, reduced starch syrup, alcohol, acidity regulator, modified starch.
• Yude (boiling) Udon. Ingredients: Wheat flour, salt. Note: manufactured in a facility that also makes products containing egg.
99.9% of ramen noodles are not vegan as they contain egg (vegan ramen is available at some restaurants like T’s Tan Tan in Tokyo Station and Chabuton – see Fast Food).
• Nama (raw) Ramen. Contains whole egg powder.
INSTANT AND CUP NOODLES
Vegan instant or cup noodles are rare in Japan. The noodles in supermarkets all appear to contain animal products. In some specialty stores you can find vegan noodles like these ones. T’s Restaurant makes instant vegan cup noodles in two flavors. They are sold in Natural Lawson convenience stores (not regular Lawson), online, and at their restaurants.
It’s easy to find vegan pasta in supermarkets. Recently many supermarkets have begun carrying a small selection of whole-grain pastas as well. Vegans also have to be careful with colored pasta, which often contains animal products. Below are some examples of pasta available in Japan.
• Hagoromo 7 Minute Spaghetti. Ingredients: Durum wheat semolina.
• Mitoku Whole Wheat Organic Penne Pasta. Ingredients: Organic durum wheat whole grain flour.
• Dalla Costa Halloween Pasta. Ingredients: Durum wheat semolina, carrot, cuttlefish ink.
• Disney Princess Tricolored Pasta. Ingredients: Durum wheat semolina, spinach, tomato.
Smaller health food and specialty stores will sometimes carry non-seminola pastas. The photo below was taken at a small shop in Kurashiki, Okayama and shows green peas fusilli, red lentils fusilli and chickpeas fusilli.