clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Panera Is Making Its Menu More Plant-Based to Become More Sustainable

Plus, Cheetos is branding its cheese dust as “cheetle,” and more news to start your day

Two grain bowls on a marble countertop Panera
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

The company will have a “plant-based” item in every menu category by 2021

Plant-based may mean nothing now, but more consumers are increasingly turning to vegetarian cuisine, whether it’s for health, concern for animal welfare, or because reports keep saying avoiding meat and dairy is a good way to combat climate change. With that, Panera Bread announced that it has a goal of 50% plant-based entrees. The menu is already 25% plant-based, but Panera promises at least one vegetarian option in every category by 2021.

According to the EPA, agriculture, forestry and “other land use” account for 24 percent of global emissions, and other reports say meat production produces 10 to 40 times the greenhouse gas as vegetable production. However, much of the meat industry’s carbon footprint is due to the production of livestock feed, which the Environmental Working Group says “requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year across some 149 million acres of cropland.” While factory farming is undoubtedly bad, smaller farmers argue that grazing grasslands are important wildlife habitats, and that it’s possible to raise meat sustainably and regeneratively.

Still, most of us don’t need to eat meat at every meal, and the spread of more vegetarian options means anyone not eating meat won’t get stuck with cobbling together a meal out of a side salad and fries.

Update, January 14, 2020, 3:31 p.m.: This piece originally reported that Panera planned on making its menu 50% vegetarian by 2021. Panera says that it has an “aspirational goal” of making half of its entrees plant-based, but there will be the “introduction of new plant-based products in every category by 2021.”

And in other news...

  • West Virginia’s new policy requires able-bodied adults to prove they were earning money in order to receive food stamps. It’s only resulted in more hungry people, and no increase in employment. Now, the Trump administration is implementing these rules across the country in April. [NY Times]
  • Ahh, Salt Bae news! This time a customer says he was charged thousands for gold-coated steaks he did not order. He refused to leave until the bill was changed, and Salt Bae called the cops. [The Takeout]
  • Cheetos wants us to call its cheese dust “cheetle” and you can’t make me. [FoodSided]
  • The swanky Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco is charging diners $30 if their breakfast takes longer than 90 minutes, in order to keep tables moving. [SF Chronicle]
  • A rare Wisconsin cheddar will be sold for $209 a pound. [The Takeout]
  • Australia dropped 4,600 pounds of carrots and sweet potatoes and water in national parks to feed hungry wallabies affected by the fires. [Yahoo]
  • The story of the great McDonald’s Monopoly scam is going to be an HBO documentary. [Vice]
  • The CEO of Maple Leaf Foods took to Twitter to condemn the U.S. government and the plane crash in Iran that killed 63 Canadians.