For many, Panda Express is the default fast-food Chinese restaurant throughout America. If you don’t want to get Chinese from a family-owned restaurant, Panda Express is probably your best bet… but what if you’re vegan?
Truth be told, Chinese food isn’t the most vegan friendly cuisine on the planet overall. However, we do want to point out that Panda Express does provide at least a couple of vegan meals and side dishes in case you are forced to eat at this restaurant because of your friends or family members.
That said, you should never visit Panda Express on your own time if you’re a vegan; there simply aren’t very many good choices compared to other restaurants around. Let’s break down all the vegan options at Panda Express in detail.
Vegan Appetizers at Panda Express
For starters, Panda Express only offers a single vegan appetizer, and not even at all locations. Only certain Panda Express restaurants can provide the Vegetable Spring Roll, which is vegan as a side effect and not by design. Technically, this also works as a side dish and not just as an appetizer.
If you want a quick snack or want to munch on something with a bigger entree, the spring roll is a decent choice that won’t force you to cheat on your diet.
Vegan Entrees at Panda Express
Next up are entrées. There are a couple of choices you can pick when putting together your order at Panda, including:
- Eggplant tofu. Note that this entrée isn’t available at all locations, but if your local Panda Express does offer it, it’s a good source of protein and vitamins
- Vegetable chow mein. Again, this isn’t available at all Panda Express locations. If it is, it’s a good, filling entrée with a decent amount of flavor
- Super-greens. This is basically a mishmash side of various vegetables like snap peas, kale, and carrots. It can be used as a side for your order or munched on by itself
- Vegan Beyond-Meat Orange Chicken
The last possible entrée is offered only at a few Panda Express locations, and it’s always a lucky find for vegans. The orange chicken is made with Beyond Meat exclusively, so it’s totally plant-based and is vegan friendly.
To put together a filling order for yourself, we recommend choosing one of the above entrées and ordering it as a “double portion”. Then just order two of the below sides and you’ll have a complete meal ready to go.
Overall, Panda Express has more decent vegan choices than other Asian cuisine diners, like Pei Wei – you can see more about this eatery’s vegan options here.
Vegan Veggies and Sides at Panda Express
Let’s take a look at those vegan sides at Panda Express in detail:
- Brown or white rice. Both of these rice sides are steamed rather than fried. But this is a good thing, as cross-contamination is undoubtedly an issue at Panda Express
- The veggie chow mein mentioned above. Remember, not all Panda Express locations have this available
- The super greens mentioned above. Its broccoli, kale, and carrots are yours to complete any meal you order
Unfortunately, Panda Express doesn’t usually allow you to order the spring roll mentioned above as a side dish. However, odds are you’ll be able to get a spring roll added to your order as a side if you ask one of the cashiers at the checkout counter.
All in all, these sides aren’t the most creative or inspiring, but they get the job done. There’s enough here that you’ll be able to get enough calories and vitamins to make a complete lunch or dinner depending on what you order for your entrée.
Panda Express Vegan Desserts and Sauces
Panda Express also offers a handful of vegan sauces and dessert options, although the desserts aren’t that inspiring. In terms of sauce, you can choose from:
- Chili sauce
- Plum sauce
- Sweet & sour sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Hot mustard
- Soy sauce
- Potsticker sauce
All of these sauces are vegan friendly and shouldn’t be exposed to cross-contamination too much.
When it comes to dessert, you can obviously get fortune cookies at Panda Express. These are sweet snacks and a great way to round out a meal. You can also choose from a variety of sweet tea flavors for your beverage. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other dessert options at Panda Express for vegans.
Panda Express Vegan Options FAQs
Yes, thankfully. All of the chow mein noodles are vegan, so you don’t need to worry about breaking your diet by accident.
No. The only other option aside from the veggie spring roll is the chicken egg roll. Naturally, the chicken egg roll includes both chicken and eggs, so it’s not vegan at all.
No. The Beyond-Meat Orange chicken is only available in some places in California and New York. However, this is popular so far and we expect it will be rolled out to other Panda Express locations over the next few years.
Is Panda Express a Good Restaurant for Vegans?
All in all, Panda Express is better than you might expect for vegans, though it’s not exactly vegan friendly compared to all the options that non-vegans can enjoy. Still, there are signs that Panda Express is working to improve its vegan friendliness, such as by offering vegan orange chicken at limited locations and removing chicken broth from any of its dishes (thanks in part to a campaign from PETA).
Hopefully, Panda Express will become even more vegan friendly in the near future. In the meantime, you can check out other vegan options at your favorite restaurants by browsing our detailed guides on cookgem!