Panda Express has been in the news recently with the announcement that they are testing Beyond Orange Chicken at 70 locations across the U.S. This has led many vegans (us included!) lucky enough to have a participating location near them to make a stop through Panda Express.
This has also brought up the question of, ‘What else can I get vegan at Panda Express?’ Specifically, we’ve heard a lot of:
Are Panda Express Spring Rolls Vegan?
The answer isn’t as simple as a ‘yes or no’ because our answer (yes, they are) actually conflicts from Panda Express’s official position which is essentially they don’t guarantee anything at their locations to be vegetarian or vegan.
Cross-Contamination at Panda Express
So, why is our answer different than Panda Express?
The difference comes down to cross-contamination.
Panda Express does share cooking surfaces and cooking equipment with animal products; therefore, cross-contamination can (and most likely will) occur.
We were told by multiple locations that basically everything on the menu that is fried (including meat items) share the same couple fryers, sometimes as few as two fryers for an entire location.
We’ve also had locations tell us they have a separate fryer for items like spring rolls and the new Beyond Orange Chicken.
Please verify with your location because this seems to vary by location.
At the end of the day, you choose your own level of comfort. We’re simply here to provide you with as much information as possible so you can make the most informed decision possible.
The last thing we’ll say is if you’re attempting to eat at a restaurant that is not 100% vegan (and especially if it’s fast food), cross-contamination is almost ALWAYS going to be a concern. For more on our view points on cross-contamination, please visit our VeggL Disclaimers.
Spring Roll Ingredients
You can find both the ingredients and allergen statements for the Vegetable Spring Rolls at Panda Express through links on their website.
The Ingredients of the Spring Rolls are:
Ingredients: cabbage, wheat flour, celery, carrots, water, mung bean vermicelli, green onions, modified corn starch, contains less than 2% of: ginger & garlic oil, sesame oil, salt, sugar, dehydrated soy sauce, onion powder, natural stir-fry flavor, spices, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, soybean oil, sodium polyphosphate, sodium carbonate, mono- and diglycerides, polysorbitan esters of stearates, lecithin, citric acid.
Dish contains: wheat, soy.
In addition, Panda Express’s Spring Rolls are not listed as having any milk or egg allergens on their Allergen Guide.
As you can see, the Spring Rolls themselves, outside of the cooking process are vegan.
Final Thoughts on Panda Express Spring Rolls
This is where we come full circle back to the idea of how comfortable are you with the potential cross-contamination?
If you’re not okay with it, then by all means – remove Panda Express from the locations you feel comfortable eating at.
On the other hand, if you’re excited about the idea of plant-based options at big fast food chains and the direction that the industry continues to go – head over to Panda Express and grab you some Spring Rolls!
What Else is Vegan at Panda Express?
We’ve spent almost this entire article talking about the cross-contamination issues at Panda Express. So, all the same concerns are still valid for the following items as well.
Having said that, here are a few of the other menu items at Panda Express that we consider vegan. For a complete list of everything vegan at Panda Express, make sure to check out our Panda Express Vegan Guide.
- Eggplant Tofu – Lightly browned tofu, eggplant and red bell peppers tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. This is a regional dish. Check with your location for availability.
- Chow Mein – Stir-fried wheat noodles with onions, celery and cabbage.
- Super Greens – A healthful medley of broccoli, kale, and cabbage.
The Eggplant Tofu is quite the elusive beast. We have heard it does exist and we have spoke with people who have tried it (and loved it!). However, we’ve also heard from countless others whose closest location doesn’t carry it (we fall into this boat as well).
Outside of the spring rolls, our personal favorite is the Chow Mein. Ryan, specifically, is a big fan of Chow Mein and Panda Express has a great version, especially for a fast food place. In fact, it’s one of our favorite vegan fast food options.
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