Panda Express has announced that by the end of this month, it will offer vegan options for the first time across all 2000+ global locations. The largest Asian Cuisine restaurant chain in the US has options on the menu that appear to be vegetarian or vegan, but in fact, contain chicken broth. Animal Outreach and PETA discovered this, and separately launched successful campaigns against the chain.
The new options will be reformulations of existing items such as Eggplant Tofu and Chow Mein. Panda Express is not the first major food chain to make these changes, others ahead of them in the US include Pei Wei Asian Kitchen, Noodles & Company, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, Taco Bell, and Carl’s Jr.
However, Panda Express states that while the menu options do not contain animal products, they are prepared on the same cooking surfaces as other non-vegan items. Also they have stated that the original non-vegan versions might still be sold in restaurants into March as they use up previous stock, so customers must check during this time.
Data from Nielson, published last year, showed the plant-based foods industry experienced dollar sales growth of 20 percent between 2017 and 2018, with sales topping $3.3 billion.
Food expert and Executive Director of the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) Michele Simon says, “Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are not just for vegetarians or vegans anymore; now even mainstream consumers are enjoying these delicious and innovative options in the market today. The new data confirms what we are hearing and seeing every day from our members: sales are up, investment is increasing, and new jobs are being created in the plant-based foods industry.”