The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on June 17, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

Observation by Lily Donofrio

I have recently begun working at my local Panera Bread and may I say, I am impressed with the company. They pride themselves on their natural and wholesome ingredients along with their efficiency to produce gourmet, clean fast food.

In my training, I got the chance to watch a few videos explaining the company’s values. In them, I learned that every item sold and every job performed serves a purpose. The cafe and bakery are lit to a certain brightness and hue to create a warm, cozy environment. For those dining in the cafe, we offer homey plates, silverware, and even mugs for coffee. The seats are cushioned and booths are spacious. Free WiFi is available to those catching up on homework or projects. This explains the nickname “oasis” that Panera has received. I learned that all of our coffee beans are grown in specific areas, for specific amounts of time, shipped specifically, tasted at least 4 times throughout the shipment, then brewed certain ways, and only set out for consumption hourly. After the coffee has spent an hour open publicly, a new batch is brewed to remain flavorful. I learned how important it is to develop relationships with customers and regulars. Even after the short amount of time so far that I’ve worked here, I’ve learned people’s “usuals” and names. I learned that Panera shifts their food schedule and options seasonally, which is interesting. They call it a “Celebration,” and to kick off each Celebration, associates close the cafe early and meet to try all of the new options. I also learned that at the end of each day, a representative from a homeless shelter comes and picks up all of our unsold breads and bakery items. This partnership that each Panera has warms my heart.

It interests me that a fast food company is so interested in the distribution of healthier and high-end options. I am proud to be a part of it. The food contains no added MSG or artificial ingredients. They keep recipes as simple as possible to keep the food real.

On each board suspended above the registers is a list of each menu item. Each menu item contains a description of the food, its cost, calorie count, and if it is vegetarian friendly. Each register is equipped with the option to take off certain additions to menu items. For example, for a meatless Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad, the person on register would have to be asked to take the chicken off of the order, which is quite simple. Adding different ingredients is easy as well.

I work the bakery register. This means that I’m the first face a customer walking into Panera sees. I ring up orders and answer questions for guests. I have complete access to our nutritional guide books to aid in the clarification of menu items and allergen information. I have had the opportunity to look at products and look for animal ingredients. I must say before listing these products, that Panera does not call the options “vegan,” but that I have looked at the ingredients and created a list of foods based on the absence of dairy, eggs, meat, fish, and honey. I also did not research microingredients, processing aids, sugar, cooking surfaces, or utensils. This is not an official Panera list. Note that some of these items change seasonally and will hopefully be replaced with more vegan friendly foods.

Here is the list I have compiled:


Sprouted grain bagel flat
Whole grain

TOPPINGS: peanut butter, jelly.


Artisan Country loaf
Artisan Rye loaf
Artisan Sesame Semolina loaf
Ciabatta loaf
Country miche
Focaccia loaf
French baguette
French miche
Rye miche
Sesame Semolina miche
Whole Grain miche
Sourdough (loaf, Breadbowl, etc)


Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal (ask without honey)
Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries and Pecans


Molasses bread


Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa: minus the chicken
Vegetarian Black Bean Soup
Soba Noodle Bowl with Edamame
Lentil Quinoa Bowl: minus chicken or egg
Garden Vegetable Soup: minus pesto


Any soda
Any serve yourself iced teas
Iced Green Tea
Frozen Lemonade
Any serve yourself hot coffee
Baristas can use soymilk for specialty coffees
Republic of Teas
Pellegrino (limonata, orange, and original)
Orange Juice
Apple Juice


Strawberry Poppyseed Salad: minus the chicken
Classic Salad
Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa Salad: minus the chicken
Fuji Apple Chicken Salad: minus the chicken and cheese
Greek Salad: minus the cheese
Chicken Cobb with Avocado: minus chicken, bacon, egg, and cheese.


Asian Sesame dressing
Balsamic dressing
Greek/herb Vinaigrette
Fat Free Poppyseed
White Balsamic Apple Vinaigrette

The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own. If you are concerned, you may want to only eat at vegetarian or vegan restaurants.

7 to “Panera”

  1. Jana says:

    Thank you for the info! It was very helpful.

  2. Kele says:

    This list definitely includes numerous items that are clearly listed as including milk, butter, and/or honey, according to Panera’s website.

  3. Tofu Cat says:

    Thanks for this list. I am very dissapointed in our local east side if Cleveland, Mentor Ohio location that does not carry any plant based milk options, nor were tgey interested in changing that. I would think it would be an item needed for those lactose intolerant as well.

  4. Sandi says:

    when I asked for the lentil qui a bowl minus the chicken, I was told that was not possible. I was so disappointed. I am in the St Louis area.

  5. Diane Koon says:

    I recently eat at a Panera and they told us we could not remove the chicken or anything else off the salads because they were premade.
    Also was told the Soba Noodle bowl with edamame had beef broth. I got the impression none of the workers there new anything about vegan food even with the book of ingredients right in front of them.
    Diane in Tampa fl

  6. Allison says:

    I live in MD. I visited Panera and asked to see the ingredients in the Lentil Quinoa Bowl, and “gelatinized” stuck out. There may be other animal ingredients as well, but I knew it wasn’t safe to order.

  7. Adriana Ainslee says:

    Without information on the sources of the micronutrients to verify they are not animal ingredients, what is the purpose of this list??

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