Are There Vegan Options On Panera Bread's Menu?

Bakery chain Panera Bread is often touted as a fresher fast food option. However, from soups, sandwiches, and salads to mac and cheese and baked goods, many of Panera's menu items contain animal products unsuitable for those following a vegan diet. Although some Panera bagels are void of dairy, eggs, and honey, their appeal is lost without a vegan cream cheese option.

In 2020, Panera announced goals for a 50% plant-based menu. CEO Niren Chaudhary told Business Insider, "It's more about better for you, and better for the world, and better for the environment, and better for animals." Interestingly, these aspirations haven't yet translated into more vegan menu options, and purely plant-based items are difficult to find on the 2024 menu beyond beverages and sides like the French Baguette, kettle-cooked chips, fruit, and two bagel flavors — plain and everything. However, modifying existing meal items to accommodate a vegan diet is possible.

Panera Bread's website has an entire page dedicated to eating vegan and defines the diet as excluding all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. The site also notes that cross-contamination is possible due to the workspace being a non-vegan kitchen. However, many vegans follow The Vegan Society's definition of reducing the use and consumption of animal products "as far as is possible and practicable." Therefore, cross-contamination is often not seen as a reason to avoid eating plant-based items at non-vegan restaurants.

How to create a vegan Panera Bread order

Since all the meals at Panera Bread must be modified to be vegan-friendly, knowing which menu options are good starting points is helpful. Unfortunately, Panera Bread's fully vegan Kids Ten Vegetable Soup was "retired" from its menu. However, if this item should reappear on the rotating soup menu, it's the perfect choice since it's plant-based by default. Nevertheless, you should read MegaMenu's advice about what you should know before ordering vegetable soup at Panera. 

The Balsamic Greens and Mediterranean grain bowls have a base of quinoa with various plant-based toppings and can be ordered without feta, chicken, or green goddess dressing for a vegan dish. Similarly, many salad options can be modified for a vegan diet by removing the chicken, cheeses, and dairy-based dressings. Plant-based dressing options include Asian Sesame, Greek, Lemon Tahini Dressing, and White Balsamic Apple.

Other fully plant-based options include oatmeal and Frozen Strawberry Lemonade. Customers can also inquire about removing the Greek yogurt to create a vegan smoothie. For a vegan sandwich option, order the Meditteranean Veggie without feta and swap the non-vegan bread for Black Pepper Focaccia, French Baguette, ciabatta, or one of the sourdough options. The white and honey wheat breads contain dairy and honey. Ultimately, creating a relatively well-balanced and filling vegan meal at Panera Bread is possible but not perfect.