I eat more than 250 packs of instant noodles every year

By Bao Nam   July 4, 2023 | 04:00 pm PT
When I am overloaded with work, when I have to spend too much time in traffic, and when street food is unhygienic, instant noodles are my best choice.

Vietnam is among the top three countries in terms of instant noodles consumption since 2020, according the World Instant Noodles Association.

Last year, the country ranked top of the world, consuming nearly 8.5 billion packs of instant noodles, or 85 packs for each resident on average.

Why do Vietnamese eat instant noodles that much, though many know the food is not healthy?

Some say it is because Vietnamese people are poor and want to save money.

I disagree.

I eat instant noodles regularly myself. I have it for breakfast on all five weekdays, which means at least 250 packs a year. I only switch to other breakfast options such as banh mi, pho, other soups, or sticky rice for the weekends.

Do I eat instant noodles because I’m poor? No. I’ve never resorted to instant noodles to save money. I am an office worker earning VND20 million (US$844) a month, and I can afford more expensive meals.

I choose instant noodles to save another thing: time.

I think the "instant" factor is key to making the food popular in Vietnam.

I start working at 7:30 a.m. I have to leave house at 6:30 a.m. I have little time for breakfast, and thus instant noodles are my best choice.

I wake up at 5:45 a.m., and immediately go into the kitchen to blanch a pack of instant noodles, to get rid of as much trans-fat as I possibly can. I then boil the noodles with an egg and leave it there for a bit while I brush my teeth and wash my face. Then I finish the noodles and change my clothes and go to work.

Many Vietnamese have such a hectic morning. We do not have enough time for some basic things. We work long hours and spend too much time traveling, and we are not always comfortable picking up food sold on the street.

Of course, I know that eating too many instant noodles is not good, and that it is harmful to my health in the long run. But I cannot find an alternative.

So instead of criticizing a large number of Vietnamese for being health-ignorant, we should do something to cut working hours, reduce traffic jams and improve street food safety.

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