Panera is a major fast, casual food chain that has long been promoting plant-based proteins like edamame and quinoa. As a mainstream restaurant found in cities all across the country, this is a pretty big deal. In regards to Panera promoting a plant-based diet for health and environmental reasons, senior food policy director for the Humane Society of the United States, Josh Balk, stated “It’s the first national chain that I’m aware of that’s ever said that…It’s hugely significant.” And now Panera is making ordering plant-based meals so much easier for their customers.
It can be a challenge for vegans to dine at some restaurants. All ingredients are not always listed, and asking for ingredient lists can be met with eye-rolls from employees and patrons alike. Recognizing the difficulties with identifying vegan options on menus, Panera has introduced a plant-based menu on their digital ordering platform that narrows down all the meat and dairy-free options at their restaurants. Although many of these options contain dairy or eggs and are not technically plant-based, many options can be made vegan by omitting an ingredient or two. With nearly 30 percent of Americans choosing to leave meat off the menu more frequently and around 40 percent of people choosing to eat plant-based when they eat out, Panera’s choice to make it even easier to do so is certainly a wise move.
We are so glad to see more plant-based options in mainstream restaurants, showing yet again that the future of food is indeed plant-based. This new shift not only caters to vegans, it also provides healthy options for those who want to reduce their consumption of animal products, whether it be for health, environmental, or animal welfare reasons.