Understanding whether a particular product like our lo mein noodles is vegan can be a daunting task.
This difficulty often stems from manufacturers who camouflage the true nature and source of their ingredients.
This article is here to reveal the truth and support you, our young reader, on your commendable vegan journey.
Are Lo Mein Noodles Vegan?
Contrary to popular belief, traditional lo mein noodles are not typically vegan. The key reason lies in the ingredients that make up the lo mein noodles themselves.
Many lo mein noodles are made using wheat flour egg noodles, and as the name suggests, these include egg, an ingredient that is not vegan. Furthermore, classic lo mein dishes often use oyster sauce and sometimes even chicken broth or shrimp for flavor, which again, are not vegan.
Is Lo Mein Noodles Cruelty-Free?
Regrettably, traditional lo mein noodles cannot be classified as cruelty-free. The presence of egg and oyster sauce in the recipe directly implicates animal involvement, which goes against the cruelty-free ethos.
What Are Lo Mein Noodles Made Of?
Lo mein, a staple of Chinese-American cuisine, is a popular noodle dish made using a variety of ingredients. It is loved for its versatility, its simplicity, and, of course, its taste. The main components are the egg noodles, mixed vegetables, a protein (such as chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu), and the lo mein sauce.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on a basic vegetable lo mein. Here are the primary ingredients:
- Lo mein egg noodles
- Assorted vegetables (such as bell peppers, carrots, and bok choy)
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
Lo mein egg noodles
Lo mein egg noodles are a type of Chinese egg noodle traditionally made from wheat flour and eggs. They are rolled out, cut into strips, and then boiled. The egg gives the noodles a yellow color and a rich, distinctive flavor. However, because they contain eggs, they are not considered vegan.
Vegetables, such as bell peppers, carrots, and bok choy, are often used in lo mein. They provide color, texture, and nutritional value to the dish. All of these vegetables come from various plants and they are completely vegan.
Soy sauce is a traditional Asian sauce made from fermented soybeans, water, wheat, and salt. It comes from East Asia and is used as a flavor enhancer in many dishes, including lo mein. It gives the dish its umami flavor and its characteristic dark color. Soy sauce is considered vegan since it’s made from plant-based ingredients.
Sesame oil is a type of vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds. It’s a common ingredient in Asian cuisine and is used in lo mein to add a unique and rich flavor. It’s also vegan friendly, since it’s made entirely from plant sources.
Garlic is a widely used ingredient around the world, known for its distinctive aroma and taste. It is derived from the garlic plant and plays a critical role in many dishes, including lo mein, by adding depth to the flavor profile. Garlic is vegan since it is plant based.
Ginger is a root spice that comes from the ginger plant. It is commonly used in many Asian dishes, including lo mein. It adds a bit of a spicy kick and a distinct flavor. Like the rest of the plant-based ingredients, ginger is also vegan.
Sugar in lo mein is used to balance the salty and savory flavors from the soy sauce and sesame oil. It usually comes from sugarcane or sugar beets. Although it’s plant derived, some sugar is processed using bone char (from animals), which makes it non-vegan.
However, there are vegan alternatives available, such as beet sugar or organic cane sugar, which are processed differently.
Vegan Alternatives to Lo Mein Noodles
Fortunately, there are many vegan alternatives available to recreate a delicious lo mein dish.
- Rice noodles or soba noodles: These are usually vegan friendly and can be a great substitute for wheat flour egg noodles.
- Low sodium soy sauce or tamari: These sauces can be used instead of traditional soy sauce to reduce sodium intake.
- Vegan oyster sauce: Made with mushrooms instead of oysters, this sauce mimics the savory taste of regular oyster sauce.
- Veggies and vegan proteins: A variety of vegetables and proteins like crispy tofu can be used to increase the nutritional value of the dish.
While traditional lo mein noodles are not typically vegan or cruelty-free, there are numerous vegan alternatives available from various food brands.
By substituting key ingredients like the noodles and sauces with options from different food brands, you can create a delicious vegan lo mein dish that aligns with your lifestyle and commitment to the planet’s health.
It’s about making informed choices and exploring the culinary world with curiosity and creativity.
After all, vegan cooking is not just about avoiding animal products—it’s also about embracing a diverse range of plant-based ingredients.