Whether it’s animal welfare concerns, climate change, nutrition, or just preference, it seems everyone nowadays has a reason for eating less meat. In response to the cultural shift, Panera is the latest restaurant chain to announce it would introduce more plant-based offerings to its menu.
In fact, the popular quick-service restaurant and bakery said it plans to have half of its menu be plant-based within the next few years. Consumers can expect to see a new plant-based item added in every category by 2021.
Panera’s bakery-café is also onboard with the switch-up. While 25 percent of its menu is already plant-based, the offerings will increase to make up at least half of the entire menu by 2021.
Other fast food chains have responded to consumer demand by offering meat-like substitutes from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, but Panera will dish out more plant-based whole foods like quinoa and edamame. Two new grain bowls have already been added to the menu in recent months.
The first bowl, the Baja bowl, is made up of cilantro-lime long grain brown rice, a colorful mix of quinoa, grilled citrus pepper chicken (or go meatless!), black bean and corn salsa, tomatoes, avocado, and feta.
The second new item is the Mediterranean bowl made with cilantro-lime long grain brown rice, colorful quinoa, arugula, grilled citrus pepper chicken (or go meatless!), grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, diced cucumbers, hummus, feta, and lemon tahini dressing.
CEO Niren Chaudhary told CNBC that the grain bowls have have been Panera’s most successful new product in the last three or four years.
Panera isn’t the first to adapt to changing consumer diets. Other fast-casual competitors such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Just Salad, and El Pollo Loco have all also released bowl and salads targets at consumers looking for more plant-based or flexitarian options.