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The largest fast-casual Chinese restaurant in the United States, Panda Express, is adding vegan dishes to the menu of its 2,000 restaurants nationwide.
According to campaign group Vegan Outreach, the chain will remove chicken broth and seasonings of animal origin from its Eggplant Tofu and Chow Mein dishes.
The move follows a campaign by Animal Outreach, which garnered almost 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for vegan dishes.
“By adding plant-based dishes, Panda Express joins a long list of companies catering to the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan food,” Vegan Outreach said in a statement.
“Although seemingly small, this change made by Panda Express will have a significant impact. Not only will the chain contribute less to animal suffering by using more plant-based ingredients, but it will send a powerful message to other chains – it’s financially beneficial and if we can do it, so can you.
“Both menu items will be vegan by the end of February, but we recommend checking with your local store before ordering.”
The chain follows a slew of other major North American outlets that have added plant-based dishes to their menus in an effort to cater to a growing number of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians, including Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell , TGI Fridays and A&W. .
Vegan is common
The U.S. hospitality industry is following the retail sector in seeing an increase in demand for plant-based alternatives, with Michele Simon, business and food expert and executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association ( PBFA), which qualifies vegan foods as “entirely mainstream”. .
Data from Nielson, released last year, showed the plant-based foods industry saw dollar sales growth of 20% between 2017 and 2018, with sales exceeding $3.3 billion.
Speaking of data, Simon said, “The plant-based food industry has evolved from a relatively niche market to a fully integrated market.
“Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are no longer just for vegetarians or vegans; now, even mainstream consumers are enjoying these delicious and innovative options on the market today. The new data confirms what we hear and see every day from our members: sales are up, investments are increasing and new jobs are being created in the plant-based foods industry. »