UPDATE: October 2019 -
There are news outlets reporting that vegan options are now available at all Panda Express locations. The options include a vegan tofu/eggplant dish. This is simply not true. I haven't found a location yet that has the vegan options. I wrote the main company to inquire about if all locations will offer vegetarian and vegan options. This is what they wrote me back, with the email being received on October 16, 2019:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
While we do not have any vegetarian or vegan dishes due to our cooking process. Our Super Greens, Veggie Spring Rolls, Eggplant Tofu (regional dish), and Chow Mein are vegetable-based.
Also, remember that our steamed rice—brown or white—are plant-based as well but the shared cooking equipment caveat still stands.
Update: May 1, 2019 -
I called my local Panda Express (Port Orange, Florida) to inquire about if they have the vegan dishes yet. They do not and the woman didn't sound like they would be having them at all. She said not all stores are getting vegan dishes. The only thing they had at this location that is vegan is white or brown rice. That's it. You should call the location to ask if they have the vegan options before you head there. It appears that not all locations are getting these vegan dishes, as has been being reported by PETA and other sources in the news.
Update: February 2019 -
This month, it was announced that Panda Express will be making two of their dishes vegetarian/vegan. They will make the tofu eggplant dish and the Chow Mein vegan, by replacing the chicken stock that was being used in them. They will be prepared on the same surfaces/equipment as their non-vegan dishes. Those will be the only two dishes made vegan. None of their other dishes are vegetarian or vegan. They put chicken stock in all of their dishes, including their rice. This will not be in effect until around April 2019. There is no date when all 2,000 restaurants around the country will have made the switch over, so be sure to inquire if you decide to give it a try.
Looking for vegetarian or vegan options at Panda Express? Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but they don't exist!
Sadly, Panda Express does not have any vegetarian options. None. If you are a vegetarian don't even go there, unless you plan to just sit and sip on a drink, because that's all they can offer you at this place. I found this information out probably 13 or more years ago, but I just confirmed once again that it is true. I've seen articles online that list what vegetarian or vegan options you should try at Panda Express. It stinks, because those articles are not accurate. Panda Express does not have any vegetarian food. Period.
Why does Panda Express not have vegetarian food, even though they have dishes that seem like they would be vegetarian? Because they use chicken stock in the dishes, thus rendering them non-vegetarian.
To get confirmation that they are still doing this (which I had found out so many years ago), I messaged their corporate office to inquire about what is vegetarian at Panda Express. Here's the letter that I got back from them today:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding the food we serve at our Panda Express restaurants. We value all comments and suggestions from our guests.
Panda Express only offers a few non-meat entrees at our restaurants. Those entrees are not considered vegetarian due to our cooking process. Cross contamination may occur as we cook our meat and meatless entrees in the same wok. In addition, some of our recipes call for our non-meat entrees to be cooked with a chicken broth base. For these reasons, we advise our guests that none of our entrees are vegetarian.
Please know that your feedback has been shared with our Executive Chef and Marketing team for further research. We appreciate the time you have taken to inform us of your concern and will look into the matter.
Thanks again for contacting the Panda Restaurant Group.
Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.
Reference # 788804
So there you have it! Don't pay attention to those articles that tell you what dishes are vegetarian at Panda Express. The person telling you that hasn't done their homework to inquire about what dishes are truly vegetarian. Panda Express is a restaurant that is right up the road from me, but one I never go into, because I know they are not vegetarian friendly. At all. I'm happy they are so forthcoming with the information. They even state in fine print on their website that none of their dishes are vegetarian.