Let’s admit it, a lot of us used to love eating at fast food restaurants. Of course, now we know a lot more than we used to. We know that fast food is just not healthy.
Some of us might avoid fast food at any measures, but some of us may still want or need to visit these eateries from time to time. Maybe we’re with friends who won’t be talked out of it, maybe we’re on the road and drive-thrus are our only option. Whatever the reason, the big question is: is it possible to find vegan options at fast food restaurants?
The answer is increasingly “yes.” More and more fast food restaurants are offering vegan options. And it figures as Americans are eating less meat and also looking for more plant-based options. There is even an app called Vegan Xpress that will help you find vegan options at national chains and fast-food restaurants. Perfect for the busy vegan on the go!
Also, don’t forget to download the Food Monster App on iTunes — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy!
Here are 20 vegan options at fast food chains:
1. Del Taco
Del Taco is one of the many fast-food chains hopping on the Beyond Meat bandwagon! Starting at their Los Angeles locations and quickly spreading down the coast to San Diego, Del Taco fast-food chains now offer Beyond Tacos, “which offer the same amount of protein and flavor as seasoned beef, but are made with 100 percent plant-based protein.” The menu offers 100 percent vegan Beyond Avocado Tacos and vegetarian Beyond Tacos, but you can also ask for Beyond Meat as a “substitute for any protein in existing Del Taco menu items, such as burritos, nachos, and fries.”
2. Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
Source: Vegan Buttery Pretzels
It’s not all about the vegan meat these days at fast-food chains. For instance, long beloved Auntie Anne’s Pretzels now offers veganized options on their menu, you just gotta know the secrets of ordering these vegan delights! Thanks to Peta, here are a few ways to get yourself some vegan-friendly pretzels. First off, go for cinnamon sugar, jalapeño, original, raisin, or sweet almond flavors. Next, the most important part, ask for these without butter. When it comes to dips, Peta recommends the marinara dip or the sweet glaze dip and for beverages opt for the vegan-friendly blue raspberry, cherry, mango, or strawberry.
3. Burger King
Next to McDonald’s, Burger King is one of the most recognized, widely visited, and long-standing fast-food chains in the country. This is why their new vegan menu is super exciting! It’s a true sign of a shift in our culture when a meat-churning institution such as this decides to offer a non-meat option. They didn’t just go for the one meal deal either, Burger King offers a slew of options for all the meals of the day!
First off, Burger King fries are actually vegan! They’re made with 100 percent vegetable oil. What else can vegans find on their menu? Hash browns, dutch apple pie (yep, you read that right!), oatmeal (ask for water instead of milk), and the Whopper Jr. which is easily made vegan-friendly — get the bun (not the croissant or biscuit), ask for no meat, and opt for no mayo. Want a beverage? Go classic with Sprite, Dr. Pepper, lemonade, and ICEE flavors including Fanta Cherry and Coke.
4. Carl’s Jr.
Even though Carl’s Jr. doesn’t offer an extensive vegan menu, they do offer their meatless population a few options to slake their fast-food lust! First off, try their Beyond Meat creation lovingly named the Beyond Famous Star burger. To make this fully vegan make sure to ask for no mayo and no cheese. You also have side options that are vegan-friendly including “French fries, CrissCut fries, hash rounds, and hash-brown nuggets.”
5. White Castle
Most of us know this fast-food establishment from the movie, yet there is a deep-rooted almost cultish love of this establishment. For vegans, White Castle has become a friendlier place, offering Impossible Burger-based vegan sliders, a Veggie Slider made from … you guessed it … veggies, vegan french fries, and applesauce. Make sure to order your sliders “plain or with a sweet Thai sauce” to avoid animal-based sauces.
6. Baskin Robbins
Sometimes you just want some good ole ice cream and Baskin-Robbins has long been a go-to staple … except for us vegan eaters.
Luckily, Baskin-Robbins has begun integrating a lovely plant-based menu offering a few fully vegan options. On August 1st of 2019, the chain store launched “two new mouth-watering non-dairy flavors” including “Non-Dairy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Non-Dairy Chocolate Extreme.” These options are not only “non-dairy” but they are also vegan made with “a base blend of coconut oil and almond butter.” Plus, the Non-Dairy Chocolate Extreme is a gluten-conscious option for those vegan eaters who also avoid gluten products!
Thanks to our friends at Peta, Wendy’s menu has been decoded for vegan ordering!
For your main meal, choose the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad, — ask for no chicken and extra cashews — the Veggie Sandwich, — make sure to say no to the mayonnaise — the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, — ask for no chicken, blue cheese, or roasted pecans which are made with a milk glaze — or the Frywich — the Veggie Sandwich with some delectable crispy fries inside! For your dressing go with the Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette, Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing, or the Light Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Want a side or two to go with your salad? Go with the Natural-Cut Fries, — cooked with vegan oil — Baked Potato with Chives, — order sans butter, cheese, and sour cream — Apple Slices, — if you’re looking to nix fries — or the Garden Side Salad — make sure to choose one of the vegan dressings and nix the croutons.”
8. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
While BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse has a hugely extensive menu, they haven’t jumped aboard a fully vegan menu just yet.
With that said, for those that love this chain (and there are die-hard fans out there!), you can absolutely find a few items on the menu that are easily veganized. Thanks to Peta, we’ve got the inside scoop! To begin, the “pizza crust and marinara sauce at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse are vegan” already, so you’re already halfway there. Next, simply “order a veggie pizza without cheese, and ask for your pizza not to be brushed with butter.” You can also opt for the spaghetti, as long as you ask for the marinara sauce.
9. Buca di Beppo
Source: Tomato Basil Bruschetta
Looking for that perfect in-between restaurant that’s not quite fast-food, yet reasonably priced? Buca di Beppo may be that wonderful balanced spot, which also happens to have some sneaky vegan-friendly fare!
To start off your meal, go with the bruschetta —” just hold the cheese.” For an entree, there are a few options including the specially requested (not on the menu) Pasta Puttanesca — “penne pasta with tomatoes, onions, green peppers, black Kalamata olives, green olives, and capers — or choose to create your own pasta combination! Your vegan ingredient options include marinara sauce, garlic olive oil (yes please!), veggies, crushed pepper, and poached garlic. Add a side such as the mixed green salad, — “substitute the Italian dressing for oil and vinegar” — steamed green beans, and broccoli.
10. Taco Bell
We’ve got to admit that Taco Bell has really stepped up their game in terms of offering vegan and vegetarian options.
First off, Taco Bell now has a fully vegetarian menu, which has a variety of options that are super easy to veganize. Basically, you can veganize any “item on the menu by subbing the meat for beans and using the magic words ‘Fresco style.'” The cashier will instantly know that you would like to “replace the cheese, ranch sauce, and sour cream with fresh pico de gallo,” taking all the work from your end of things.
Use these magic words — “Fresco style” — to veganize the “7-Layer Burrito, Black Beans and Rice, Spicy Tostada, and Power Menu Bowl.” Plus, there are a few already vegan options such as chips, cinnamon twist, and Mexican rice, plus you can get the side of beans, just ask for it without the cheese.
11. The Cheesecake Factory
If there’s one thing uniquely recognized about the Cheesecake Factory, it’s the size of the menu. Pages upon pages of delightful options. Yet, for vegans, we’ve got to be particularly careful. This joint loves to slather their dishes with animal-based products.
So, what is a vegan to do when their friends want to splurge on this not-quite fast-food chain? Simply know your options and stick to the plan!
Vegans have more than a few options with a tweak or two including Soy-Glazed Edamame, Vegan Cobb Salad, Veggie Burger, — opt for sourdough or wheat bread, nix the cheese and mayo, and verify that the patty is vegan — Kale and Quinoa Salad, — hold the parmesan — Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta, — hold the parmesan and opt for olive oil instead of butter on the noodles — or the Falafel Salad, — nix the feta and choose one of the vegan dressings including lemon-blueberry, pomegranate, or shallot.
12. Daily Grill Restaurant and Bar
Source: Carrot and Radish Salad with Lime Ginger Dressing
With locations spread across California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Texas, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Washington, this is yet another great in-between option if you’re looking for a reasonably priced food joint that isn’t quite fast food.
Once you’re seated at the Daily Grill Restaurant & Bar it’s time to begin deducing the vegan options on the menu! Start with the “gazpacho soup, a trio of hummus, sweet potato fries, and herbed brown rice with almonds.” Move on to the entrées such as “penne pasta primavera, angel hair pasta Pomodoro, and a grilled vegetable plate.” Looking for something light? Opt for the vegan-friendly “house salad with Asian ginger dressing or balsamic vinaigrette.”
This popular breakfast food spot has turned an interested eye towards those plant-based eaters who are quickly making up a large part of the consumer population. Denny’s didn’t just think about their plant-based eaters, but they’ve implemented quite a few options on their menu making this establishment a vegan-friendly joint.
What’s a vegan to order?
Direct from the menu, go ahead and order the Veggie Burger with Brioche Bun, one of the Veggie Skillet options, — make sure to go sans eggs and cheese, obviously — the English Muffin — add vegan toppings such as “avocado, peanut butter, or jam” — Oatmeal, or the Vegan-Friendly Hashbrowns. There is also a slew of vegan-friendly sides to round out a hearty breakfast including bagels, grits, applesauce, fresh fruit, seasoned French fries, baked potatoes, and garden salads. Looking for a non-meaty, meaty breakfast? Opt for Amy’s vegan burger!
14. Freebirds World Burritos
Haven’t heard of this one yet? Time to get on board because Freebirds World Burritos is a great place for vegans to get their burrito thirst quenched! Plus, this joint has over “70 locations throughout the U.S.” and they’ve recently “teamed up with Beyond Meat to offer vegan meat burritos, bowls, tacos, and salads.”
With that said, you’ve gotta know how to order as a vegan in order to truly avoid those animal products. Once again, Peta saves the day! They’ve come up with a super easy-to-use guide for vegan ordering.
When creating your own burrito, begin by choosing a vegan “vessel,” — bowl, cayenne tortilla, flour tortilla, spinach tortilla, whole wheat tortilla, or corn tortilla — and then select the Beyond Meat option.
Next, get your fillings sorted out, — black beans, pinto beans, refried beans, Spanish rice, or cilantro-lime rice — choose your vegan toppings — cilantro corn salsa, diced jalapeños, diced tomatoes, fresh greens, fresh salsa, pico de gallo, roasted garlic, sautéed veggies, shredded lettuce, tortilla strips, and/or white onions — and load up on dressings — ancho dressing, creamy jalapeño salsa, death sauce, fresh lime juice, habanero salsa, hot tomatillo sauce, and/or mild tomatillo sauce.
Lastly, opt for a vegan-friendly extra or side such as chips, fresh guacamole, or sliced avocado!
Not as well-known as the big duo McDonald’s and Burger King, Bareburger still holds its own in the states as a popular fast-food joint to get a burger. What’s unique about Bareburger’s plant-based, vegan-friendly options? They not only offer Beyond Burgers, but they also offer the Impossible Burger! No matter which meatless option you lean towards, they’ve got it for you.
What to know when ordering?
The Beyond Burger is already 100 percent vegan, no need to change up the order at all. If you’re an Impossible Burger fan, make it fully vegan by ordering “vegan cheese and a sprout bun instead of the brioche.” Plus, it’s not just about the meatless meat burgers at Bareburger. This fast-food chain also offers “two housemade veggie burgers (the Thai Chia and Guadalupe), Beyond Sausage, Farmstead (a collard green sweet potato wrap), various salads (look for the “V”), Sweet Fries and French Fries, Sweet and Dill Pickles, and Napa Slaw.”
16. Kona Grill
Some of the most non-vegan-friendly restaurants out there are sushi joints. Luckily, the Kona Grill is now offering a full vegan menu for their plant-based eating patrons! With locations spread across the states, this is a great in-between restaurant chain that’s reasonably priced, yet a great sit-down joint.
The vegan menu offers a wide variety of options including starters, — such as edamame — sushi, — cucumber roll, avocado roll, and vegetarian roll — salads and dressings, — seaweed salad, house salad, roasted asparagus salad, and the oriental salad with the onion soy, sweet soy, or oil and vinegar dressing — noodle dishes — pan-Asian noodles or linguine and marinara sauce — and your choice of sides — baby bok choy, seasonal vegetables, and white rice.
17. Papa John’s
It’s true! Your favorite pre-made, cook-at-home pizza joint now offers varieties of vegan-friendly pizzas. There are actually a few options for vegans when ordering your favorite pizza.
First off, go for a vegan cheese option! The chain has partnered with “Bute Island Foods for its dairy-free Sheese, which is used as a topping on three different vegan pizzas: Vegan Sheese and Tomato, Gardy Party with Vegan Sheese, and Hot Pepper Pasion with Vegan Sheese.”
Second, you can simply nix the cheese altogether. Papa John’s pizzas are all based on vegan-friendly ingredients, which means you can order “any veggie option on the menu but simply ask for it without cheese to make it vegan.”
Papa John’s also has a few side options that are vegan-friendly including an assortment of wedges — Wedges, Vegan Cheese Wedges, and Spicy Vegan Cheese Wedges — Vegan Marmite Scrolls and Vegan Hot Dog Scrolls, — only offered in the UK — Cauli Wings, an assortment of dipping sauces — garlic dipping sauce, special garlic sauce, barbeque, pizza sauce, hot buffalo sauce, and sweet chili sauce.
18. In-N-Out Burger
When you mention In-N-Out Burger, it’s very likely you’ll stumble across a few die-hard fans within a few yards of the mentioned name. It’s just that beloved. Yet, for vegans, this fast-food chain has been somewhat limiting until recently.
While the fries have always been vegan-friendly — cooked in sunflower oil — other “make-it-vegan” options — such as the grilled cheese without the cheese, basically a “lettuce, tomato, and onion” sandwich — aren’t quite appealing. That’s why you need to know (or ask about) the “Veggie Secret Menu.” Ask the cashier for “one sandwich, no patty, no spread, and no cheese,” then “add the grilled onions.” This will result in a vegan-friendly “lettuce, tomato, and juicy grilled onion” sandwich for only $1.50!
Sometimes it really does pay to be vegan!
One quick note … that special sauce that everyone RAVES about from In-N-Out Burger? That’s NOT vegan, so make sure to steer clear. It’s got a base of mayonnaise, which means eggs.
19. Noodles & Company
Time to get your vegan noodles on! This popular fast-food noodle dispensary is much beloved across the states. Now, Noodles & Company is proud to offer some vegan-friendly culinary fare for those plant-based eaters.
When perusing the menu, opt for “Japanese Pan Noodles, Spaghetti with Marinara (without cheese), or Pasta Fresca without cheese.” These items are already vegan-friendly, but there are a few which can be veganized with a few tweaks. Get the Spicy Chipotle Adobo “without the pork, chicken, and cream,” the Thai Green Curry “without the shrimp”, or the Penne Rosa “without the cream and cheese.”
Looking for something light? Try the Tossed Green Side Salad with balsamic vinaigrette!
20. Chipotle Mexican Grill
Source: Philip Arno Photography/Shutterstock
One of the most beloved fast-food joints in the country has vegan options! In fact, this well-loved establishment has a slew of not only vegan and vegetarian options, but also allergen-friendly alternatives all laid out on this super easy to navigate food map.
So, what are the options for us none meat-eaters?
To begin, if you want to create your own meal you can choose from a handful of 100 percent vegan ingredients including black beans, pinto beans, tortilla chips (yep, you read that right!), cilantro-lime brown and white rice, crispy corn tortillas, fajita vegetables, flour tortilla (both burrito and taco varieties), fresh tomato salsa, guacamole, roasted chili-corn salsa, tomato green-chili salsa, tomatillo red-chili salsa, romaine lettuce, and, of course, Sofritas.
If you’re not in the creating mood, try ordering the Plant-Powered Vegan Bowl complete with “Sofritas—an organic tofu-based shredded vegan meat spiced with poblano pepper, cumin, and chipotle chile.”
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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Panera\’s, at least in my neck of the woods, has discontinued their black bean soup. They now have a squash soup that I think is vegan, but it isn\’t nearly as good as the black bean soup was.
The squash soup has dairy