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Panda Express, a renowned fast-food restaurant, has been around for 37 years. It is one of the leading Asian food chains in the USA with 2200+ locations. Though the American-Chinese cuisine has a lot of variety, the vegan options at Panda Express didn’t exist before February 2019.
Panda Express stopped adding chicken broth liquid in several dishes due to Vegan Outreach and PETA’s petitions. These dishes include eggplant tofu, super greens, spring rolls, white and brown rice, and chow mein. Their sauces, however, were already vegan.
So, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, try out these items next time you go to the Panda Express:
White And Brown Rice
White rice is one of the healthier items on the Panda Express menu. Brown fried rice is, however, more preferable by the consumers. Both of them are favorite sides for many of their customers.
Panda Express makes their white and brown rice without using any meat flavors. However, brown rice contains eggs, as per their allergen menu.
Eggplant is another popular dish among Panda Express’ customers. It contains eggplant, brown tofu, and bell peppers soaked in sweet & spicy sauce. Earlier, they added chicken broth in it, but thanks to the petition by PETA, now it’s a vegan dish.
Eggplant tofu was a popular dish even before they made it vegan. A lot of meat-eaters enjoy the dish as it is a unique mixture of different ingredients.
This might also be the best vegan option available as you can add white or brown rice as a side to the dish. It can become the perfect meal of the day. Also, that’s the best a vegan can expect from a non-vegetarian American-Chinese food outlet.
Chow mein is noodles fried with veggies and even meat at some places. It is a popular dish from Chinese cuisine, and you can find this dish at every Chinese restaurant in your city. Now, vegan chow mein has become a common food item at various restaurants.
Panda Express made chow mein by adding chicken broth in it. However, it is now among one of their vegan items on the menu. You can add it as a side and get yourself a delicious meal. If you request them, they might even add some pieces of tofu to your chow mein.
Spring Rolls are rolls filled with vegetables and deep-fried in oil. Many restaurants make non-vegetarian spring rolls too. It is a part of Chinese cuisine but is available at some restaurants that don’t serve Chinese food.
Panda Express has both chicken and veggie spring rolls. The vegetable one is fully vegan without a drop of chicken broth or any other meat item. Dip these crunchy rolls in Panda Express tasty vegan dips or sauces to make them even more delicious. Most of the customers prefer sweet & sour sauce and also the soy sauce.
Super greens consist of kale, cabbage, and broccoli. It is one of the healthy sides offered by Panda Express. Add it to your rice and eggplant meal to make it a healthy, nutritious one. These are, of course, one of the vegan-friendly options at Panda Express.
Panda Express has its own tea bars where they make Asian-inspired beverages. Their website has the location of all these bars in the country. Some of the best tea flavors available are:
- Strawberry Fruit
- Passion Fruit
- Fuze Raspberry
They also have various flavors of lemonades available. Here are some of the popular ones:
The menu gets better with their signature milk tea. However, at general Panda Express outlets, you won’t find the above drinks, but you will get a variety of others that are 100% vegan.
- Root Beer
- Dr. Pepper
- Black Tea
- Diet Coke
- Coke Zero
- Fanta Orange
- Sweet Tea
- Cherry Coca-Cola
- Vitamin Water
- Fanta Strawberry
- Ginger Ale
- Unsweetened Tea
- Sprite Zero
The list does not end here as they have some unique beverages as well. It includes Fanta Punch, Fruit Punch, and Powerade Berry Blasts.
Surprisingly, the sauces available at Chinese restaurants are vegan. Panda Express uses Plant-based sauce that can be a great compliment to your meal. Here is a list of these sauces:
- Sweet & Sour Sauce
- Potsticker Sauce
- Hot Mustard
- Soy Sauce
- Plum Sauce
- Chilli Sauce
The teriyaki sauce, however, may not be fully vegan, depending on the brand they use. Teriyaki sauce contains only plant-based ingredients. Some restaurants or chefs add other ingredients to improve the taste.
Some teriyaki sauces contain sugar too. Vegans might want to avoid adding sugar as it might be a refined one. It won’t be an issue if you are not a strict vegan, though.
Why Vegan Outreach And PETA Filed A Petition Against Panda Express?
Before February 2019, Panda Express was mostly a non-vegetarian American-Chinese restaurant. The food chain company had to stop adding chicken broth into its few vegetarian items. It was because of the petitions Vegan Outreach and Peta.
PETA was already in talks with the Panda Express about its menu for a long time. Panda Express told them that their vegetarian dishes include meat-flavored seasonings. PETA, then, urged them to add vegan items in all of their 2000 outlets.
However, Panda Express did not make any changes to their menu even after a warning by PETA. Over 234,000 supporters of PETA signed a petition regarding the Panda Express’ entirely non-vegan menu.
In February 2019, the restaurant that added chicken broths in most of its dishes had to remove the ingredient from some of them.
Dishes, now vegan at Panda Express, are Super Greens, White and Brown rice, Eggplant Tofu, Chow Mein, and Spring Rolls. Their sauces and some of the drinks were already vegan.
Not only Panda Express, but other fast-food chains have also introduced vegan options. Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, Pei Wei, and Noodles and Company are a few examples of such food chains.
Vegan Outreach’s 5000 supporters signed the petition regarding this issue. Though it’s a smaller number as compared to PETA, still equally impactful. Along with these signatures came thousands of social media requests to change the Panda Express menu.
Does Panda Express Have Fully Vegan Dishes?
According to Panda Express’s website, they do not serve vegan, gluten-free, or vegetarian items. It is because they cook the food with the same equipment, which might cause cross-contamination.
Panda Express’s representative stated that the products might not be animal byproducts, but they make all the dishes at their outlets in the same equipment and facilities. That is why they do not claim that their menu is vegan.
So, people who are allergic to fish, gluten, shellfish, eggs, and nuts should not eat at Panda Express.
How Will This Step Affect Vegans?
By removing the meat ingredient for vegetarian dishes, Panda Express welcomed all the vegans to their outlets. It may not be a big step, but it will surely make a huge impact. Panda Express’s contribution to animal suffering will reduce as they use plant-based products.
The chain also sends a message to other chains and encourages them to do the same thing with their products. As others start following them, vegans will have more options to eat comfortably at their outlets.
Non-vegetarians, on the other hand, will have no problem since most of the items on the menu fall in their category.
Other Restaurant Chains With Vegan Options
There are a lot of food chains that have vegan options on their menu. Here are a few:
- Baskin Robbins: Out of their 31 flavors of ice cream, they have three vegan ones. These are Choco-chip cookie Dough, Coffee Caramel Chunk, and Chocolate Extreme.
- Burger King: Garden salad, hash browns, fries, Dutch apple pie are some of their vegan items.
- Carl’s Jr.: They have a vegan patty for all their burgers and a vegan burrito.
- The Cheesecake Factory: They offer vegan salad, veggie burgers, pasta, etc.
- IHOP: Hash browns, fruits, mushrooms, baked potato are among their vegan items.
- Starbucks: Their vegan menu includes multigrain bagels and Oatmeals.
- Subway: They have the Veggie Delite without mayo and a few vegan bread options.
- Denny’s: Their oatmeal, muffins, bagels, fries, and fresh fruits are vegan items.
- Quiznos: Veggie sub and potato chips are vegan friendly.
- Shake Shack: They have a glutton-free bun with a burger patty made with grains, herbs, and greens.
- Wendy’s: their garden side salad, veggie sandwich, and baked potatoes are fully vegan.
As Panda Express changed its menu, vegans can eat and order from their place too. PETA keeps encouraging other outlets as well to start selling vegan products. Many food chains have vegan dishes, but those who don’t are higher in number.
People are now more aware and concerned about the environment. The growing popularity of vegan food is undoubtedly going to change a lot of menus. It will be profitable for restaurants as more customers come their way.