A lot of Chinese food seems like it could be vegan friendly.
This includes chow mein noodles.
After looking up the ingredients in several store-bought and restaurant served chow mein noodles, it’s clear that some chow mein noodles are vegan, and some are not.
More often than not they are vegan-friendly, but it’s far from safe to make that assumption.
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Are Plain Chow Mein Noodles Vegan?
Plain chow mein noodles are usually vegan, but some are not. Plain chow mein noodles are usually only made of:
- Wheat flour
- Artificial colors
Most dry chow mein noodles are vegan, but some are borderline at best.
I highlighted the 2 types of ingredients that can be a concern for vegans.
Whether or not plain chow mein noodles are vegan will typically depend on how you view artificial colors and palm oil. These are both slightly controversial among vegans (if you’re a new vegan I wouldn’t worry about it until you’re more comfortable with the diet).
Artificial Colors in Chow Mein Noodles and Vegans
Artificial colors (e.g. yellow 5) are most common in the crunchy fried chow mein noodles. Some vegans eat artificial colors while others don’t.
They are often tested on animals by researchers (not the food companies themselves), so it’s a grey area.
By most definitions, artificial colors are vegan-friendly, even though many vegans avoid them. It’s a personal choice you’ll have to make.
Oil in Chow Mein Noodles That Might Not Be Vegan (Palm)
While all cooking oil comes from plant sources, palm oil is controversial among vegans.
Many vegans don’t eat palm oil because the industry is responsible for a lot of animals suffering. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Not all chow mein noodles contain palm oil, but I’d say about a third of them do.
Most chow mein noodles contain some oil, and most of them are clearly vegan. However, some contain palm oil, which is another grey area for vegans that you will have to decide where you stand on it.
The Noodle Sauce Often Isn’t Vegan
The more common issue with chow mein noodles is the sauce.
It often contains oyster sauce, fish sauce, or egg products.
None of these are vegan-friendly.
If you go out to a restaurant, you’ll need to ask about the ingredients in the chow mein noodles and their sauce.
The better option, if you’re craving chow mein noodles is to make your own, there are tons of vegan-friendly chow mein noodle recipes that you can make yourself.
Here’s a vegan chow mein recipe that I recommend.