PF Chang's is one of my favorite restaurants, but I usually order chicken dishes that aren't very healthy when I go there. As part of a challenge to get myself back to eating vegan, I decided to see what a PF Chang's vegan menu would look like. Unfortunately, given that PF Chang's is a pretty structured chain menu that uses a lot of animal products, this task was nearly impossible.

The Experience

Allison Curley

Scanning the menu, I tried to find something that did not include eggs, dairy, or meat. Sadly, there was only one option under the vegetarian section: Buddha's Feast. It is made up of "Five-spice tofu, savory sauce, asparagus, shiitakes, broccoli, and carrots." Except this is technically not even vegan because the kitchen explained to me that they would have to make it without their "oyster flavoring" sauce. 

Without the sauce, Buddha's Feast is essentially just plain tofu with steamed vegetables, which is not particularly appetizing or unique to the Asian fusion cuisine. I also asked about plain noodles that seemed like they should be vegan, but they were soaked in oyster sauce, making it non-vegan.

I was genuinely surprised that items like these that were meatless contained fish sauces that made it inaccessible to vegans. This is even more challenging to substitute because it's inherent to the recipe, rather than some sort of meat on top that can be left off or removed.

I asked my waiter if the restaurant would be willing to accommodate a vegan diet by making something separately. Unfortunately, because of the large size of the restaurant, the kitchen said they cannot provide any other vegan options on the menu that did not include fish sauce or oyster sauce. 

My takeaway from this dining experience is that if you want to eat vegan at PF Chang's, you'll have to accept that the food is going to be pretty bland. In order to stay animal-free, I had to sacrifice the signature sweet, sour, and spicy Asian food flavor combination. 

Vegetarian, Not Vegan

That being said, it is very easy to eat vegetarian at PF Chang's. With lots of tofu, nuts, and vegetable options on the menu, eating meatless is no problem. It's really the seafood incorporation that makes PF Chang's vegan menu non-existent. There is always the option for a plain salad with dressing on the side or edamame for an appetizer, but I definitely recognize how vegans should be able to enjoy flavorful as well as animal-friendly meals at the same time.

Interestingly, I did some research to find that other websites do list some of the vegetarian options I have mentioned as vegan. For example, there is a PETA article that outlines a vegan PF Chang's menu. However, based on my experience at the Winston-Salem PF Chang's, the sauces on the menu would technically eliminate this possibility. My best advice would be to triple check with your local PF Chang's before ordering under the assumption that the listed meatless meals are vegan.

Being vegan in today's society has its perks, but sometimes the chain restaurants can be problematic when it comes to avoiding animal products. This is especially true in a restaurant like PF Chang's that might not have the healthiest options. Some of their most famous meals are the chicken lettuce wraps, sesame chicken, and dumplings, which all inherently use meat, eggs, and fish sauces. Being aware of what a restaurant is known for is key when eating a strictly vegan diet, and this is not the place for anything vegan other than plain vegetables.