One inquisitive omnivore’s journey towards healthier and more compassionate eating…

(Click here for why I started)

Going out to dinner isn’t always easy if you’re a vegetarian and sometimes impossible for vegans.

I’ve been traveling lately and as a result I’ve been eating out a lot more. Like most of us, I have my favorite restaurants with my go-to dishes. The thing is most of those go-to dishes include meat, especially at P.F. Chang’s—from Mongolian beef, P.F. Chang’s fried rice combo and crispy honey shrimp, to sesame chicken and pork dumplings.

So this was the perfect place for me to shake things up a bit and go vegetarian.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro menu includes an array of tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes./Photo credit:
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro’s menu includes an array of tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes. Photo credit:

The good news is P.F. Chang’s has a pretty good vegetarian/vegan selection. The bad news is a lot of the meal choices include tofu — not a favorite of mine. We still gave it a shot though, beginning with the STARTERS section:

P.F. Chang's vegetarian pan fried dumplings come with a tasty chili sauce for dipping and are a tasty vegetarian alternative to the shrimp and pork versions./Photo credit: Lisa Singer
P.F. Chang’s vegetarian pan-fried dumplings come with a tasty chili sauce for dipping and are a tasty vegetarian alternative. Photo credit: Lisa Singer
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls — crispy spring rolls filled with vegetables and a sweet & sour dipping sauce.
  • Instead of pork dumplings we opted for vegetable, pan-fried and drizzled with a light chili sauce.
  • Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps — they’re made with tofu, but the chicken lettuce wraps are so good we decided to give them a try anyway.

Instead of P.F. Chang’s fried rice combo, we ordered the vegetarian version which was basically prepared the same way sans the egg, beef, pork, shrimp, and chicken.

Our first meal choice was the stir-fried eggplant in a spicy vegetarian sauce with chili paste and scallions. We couldn’t avoid the tofu ones completely so we ordered one of Chang’s specialties, Buddha’s Feast—a baked tofu in soy sauce stir fried with carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, and broccoli.

So, was the meal a success? Yes!

The vegetable dumplings, rice, and even the wraps were just as good as the meat versions.

I love P.F. Chang’s rice, so it was actually nice not to have all of the meats interfering with its flavor. The dumplings tasted the same to me especially when I dipped them in the chili sauce. The vegetarian wraps? I guess if I were being really picky (which we all know I can be) weren’t as good as the chicken wraps but very close. I’m just not a big fan of tofu—I hate the texture.

P.F. Chang's vegan-friendly Buddha's Feast is a savory soy sauce tossed with baked tofu, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, carrots and broccoli.
P.F. Chang’s vegan-friendly Buddha’s Feast is baked tofu, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli tossed in a savory soy sauce. Photo credit:

Buddha’s Feast, on the other hand, I really liked. Maybe because there wasn’t a meat-based version to compare it to, or maybe because the tofu was baked so it wasn’t as mushy. Whatever the reason, it had a delicious zesty flavor—tofu and all! The eggplant was also really tasty, but a little spicy for me (remember I’m an Irish girl), so I couldn’t eat too much of it. And spring rolls, of course, are always a welcomed addition.

I definitely recommend having a vegetarian excursion to P.F. Chang’s! I’m not saying I didn’t miss the crispy honey shrimp, but I was completely satisfied and never felt deprived. And best of all, I experienced AND enjoyed foods I never would have tried if I had just stuck with my usual go-to dishes.

Now here’s my challenge:

Take a vegetarian excursion to one of your favorite restaurants and let me know how it goes. Just give it a try — you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

— Lisa Singer, exclusive to Global Animal