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Fast Food Plant-Based

Plant-Based Orange Chicken Is Coming To Panda Express Via Beyond Meat

Photos courtesy of Panda Express

There’s already a fast-growing market for plant-based American Chinese dishes like Orange Chicken and Honey Walnut Shrimp. Panda Express is taking advantage of that opportunity with a new meat-free version of their legendary Orange Chicken.

Panda teamed up with plant-based meat purveyor Beyond Meat for their new vegan option. Beyond, who just launched their own plant-based tenders, also has meat-free chicken projects ongoing with fast food giants like KFC.

Beyond Meat brought their new plant-based chicken to the collab, while Panda provided their classic Orange Sauce to give the dish its signature flavor without any of the poultry.

For those looking for plant-based side or alternative protein options, Panda recommends any of their sides (Chow Mein, White Rice, Brown Rice, or Veggies) and also has an Eggplant Tofu entree. With this new partnership with Beyond Meat, there’s also an open opportunity for the two to collab more in the future. Plant-based Ma Po Tofu, anyone?

Panda’s plant-based Orange Chicken will be available in select locations in New York and Southern California starting July 26th for a limited time. One can only hope that this will eventually scale to a nationwide, permanent menu item for plant-based or flexitarian consumers.

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Fast Food Health Plant-Based

Panda Express Changes Chow Mein And Eggplant Tofu To Be Plant-Based Friendly

To be completely honest, I was about today years old when I learned that Panda Express’s plant-based options aren’t 100% vegetarian. Turns out that in the past, their chow mein and eggplant tofu, amongst other items, have included chicken broth or chicken-based seasonings inside of them, meaning while they may look meat-free at a glance, they’re not.

Moving forward, though, that won’t be the case, as Panda Express has been making changes to their menu to ensure that those items are free from animal products.

For the past few years, according to a Panda Express representative, they’ve working to eliminate animal byproducts from several of their dishes while keeping taste and quality the same. These include the chow mein, Super Greens mixed veggies, eggplant tofu, and steamed brown and white rice. Panda has been able to scale these changes to a national level, and began rolling out the new recipes in late 2018. They’ll be in all restaurants nationwide by the end of this year.

While these dishes are suited for those who live a plant-based lifestyle, Panda Express will still avoid calling them “vegan” or “vegetarian.” Since all of the dishes are cooked on the same kitchen equipment, potential exists for leftover bits of meat and animal products to intermix with the meat-free dishes.

So, while the items are technically plant-based friendly, there is no guarantee that there won’t be meat inside them. Nonetheless, it’s a huge step forward for Panda Express to begin renovating their menu to accommodate vegetarian and vegan guests better. In the future, perhaps they will be able to prevent that cross-contamination as well.