Even though eating at Panda or KFC isn’t the healthiest way to go, we all know that fast-food is one of the easiest and quickest ways to quiet our hangry alter egos. And heck, sometimes our souls just need to be filled with that familiar, fatty, fast-food taste. While most vegans value clean, organic ingredients, no one can escape these cravings, and everyone has those days where they are in a pinch for a speedy meal.
Not all herbivores can live in big cities like LA or NYC with plenty of access to plant-based restaurants. And realistically, the cost of fresh, pre-made meals from Whole Foods can add up quickly. Meal-prepping at home is a great way to combat these problems, but there may be another solution.
Contrary to popular belief, most of those fast-food restaurants we all know and love actually cater to the dietary needs of vegans (shocker!). So for all my vegans out there, next time you think you have to opt out of lunch with your meat-eating pals, or you are about to break your diet at McDonald’s to avoid starvation, here’s your guide to vegan fast-food eating.
Mad for Mexican?
I wish I could afford to eat @chipotlemexicangrill everyday ? #vegan #veganfood #vegansofinsta #vegansofinstagram #vegansofig #whatveganseat #veganfoodporn #veganfoodshare #crueltyfree #vegetarian #govegan #stlouisvegan #veganstlouis #instafood #veganfriendly #animalfree #veganlife #herbivore #veganlover #veganism #chipotle #veganchipotle #sofritas #sofritasburrito #veganlunch #mexican #burrito A photo posted by Zoë (@veganette_) on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:28pm PDT
Chipotle is one of the best fast-food options for vegans because they emphasize non-GMO, organic, quality ingredients – you won’t have to compromise any of your health beliefs when ordering from here. The flour and corn tortillas, black and pinto beans, sofritas, fajita veggies, guacamole, chips, and salsas are all plant-based, so basically choose your concoction of your perfect quesadilla, taco, bowl, burrito, or salad (with no dressing).
Pancheros offers pinto and black beans, rice, salsa, guac, and chips for vegan eaters, so try ordering a veggie burrito bowl with some of the above ingredients. Contrary to much of the information available online regarding their tortillas, the dough is made with dairy-powdered milk as disclosed by the Pancheros Marketing Department, so stay away from burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.
Qdoba vegetarian burrito bowl!?? #vegan #vegetarian #qdoba A photo posted by Kirsten Lamont (@kirstenspointofview) on Nov 13, 2015 at 6:35pm PST
Similar to Chipotle, Qdoba can provide you with vegan black or pinto beans, brown or cilantro lime rice, flour or corn taco shells or soft tortillas, fajita veggies, salsas, guacamole, and corn tortilla chips for you to make a burrito, bowl, quesadilla, or taco. They also make a mean tortilla soup, if I do say so myself.
It’s not the most beautiful or the most glamorous, but Taco Bell has veggie bowls now. This got me though in a pinch last night when I seriously was running around like crazy. Just ask for the veggie Cantina power bowl Fresco. I’ll admit it was delicious. #tacobell #vegan #plantbased #animalfree #dairyfree #crueltyfree #whatveganseat #govegan #friendsnotfood #veganlife #vegansofig #veganism #veganmom #cantinapowerbowl #vegantacobell
After everything I’ve heard about the questionable meat that Taco Bell serves (am I the only one that’s noticed Taco Bell and dog food in the same sentence a little too often?), I am happy to offer up some information about their plant-based meal alternatives.
Taco salads, bean burritos, crunchwraps, and tacos are satisfying choices, just swap the meat for beans, hold sour cream and cheese, and add rice, potatoes, guac, or one of the many vegan dressings (red, green chile, fire, green tomatillo, hot, or mild sauce and regular, citrus, or fiesta salsas). Still hungry? Order some black beans and rice or a serving of the accidentally vegan cinnamon twists.
Craving Pizza or Pasta?
Most pizza joints can hold the cheese and make you a decent vegan pizza, but because not all of them can guarantee animal-free crusts and preparations, Domino’s is a safe bet. Order a thin crust, regular sauce pizza and load on the veggies. Then take your pick of an array of vegan dipping sauces including BBQ, garlic, hot buffalo, and Italian dipping cups.
OMG yum. Pizza hut cheeseless pan Base with tomatoes, mushrooms, black olives, and red onions. #veganpizzahut #vegansofig #animallovers #cowspiracy #earthling #g #vegansofinsta #veganlove #vegansta #vegan #veganfoodshare #veganfood #veganfoodporn #happy A photo posted by Kayleigh Ingram (@scoopykayy) on Oct 25, 2015 at 6:59am PDT
Like Domino’s, Pizza Hut will hush your pizza hankerings with their vegan-friendly options. Choose between a thin ‘n crispy or hand-tossed style crust, regular or sweet pizza sauce, and then pile on extra vegetables to finish out your pie. Thinking some crust, tomato sauce, and veggies won’t taste authentic enough? Try sprinkling on some nutritional yeast for an animal-friendly cheese alternative.
#food #noodles #noodlesandcompany #japanesepannoodles #lunch #tofu #vegetarian A photo posted by @happypenguinlisa on Aug 10, 2015 at 11:55am PDT
Even though pasta and cheese go hand in hand, Noodles & Co has several ways to get around this perfect yet dairy-based pairing. Their penne fresca, penne rosa, whole grain tuscan linguine, and spaghetti can be made vegan by requesting no cream, cheese, or meat. The Japanese pan noodles and Indonesian peanut sauté are even vegan-friendly without alteration. Add tofu as an extra source of protein to round out your meal, enjoy, then thank me later.
Itching for Classic Fast-Food?
chick-fil-a waffle fries A photo posted by carter ? (@sugarcoatedcarter) on Feb 10, 2014 at 2:54pm PST
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Chick-fil-A, do not let this gift go to waste. Go grab a bite from there so the rest of us can live vicariously through you. Here’s what you could be eating: Waffle fries (’cause duh); bun or flax seed tortilla filled with veggies and toppings like black bean relish, broccoli florets, or charred tomato crispy bell peppers; cool wrap sans chicken, cheese, or dressing; market salad without chicken or cheese; Asian salad hold the chicken or almonds; cobb salad minus the chicken, bacon, eggs, or cheese.
Their zesty apple cider vinaigrette, Polynesian sauce, and light Italian, honey sesame, fat free honey mustard, and reduced fat berry balsamic dressings are all vegan and should replace any other dressings on the above dishes.
Don’t worry, even you vegans can “have it your way.” Their fries are vegan, however, be mindful that the frier is shared with other animal-based foods. BK buns and wraps can be filled with veggies for an entree paired with a side salad without dressing. Order the Dutch apple pie for dessert, but I really question what they put in this treat that qualifies it as vegan (slightly concerning), but Burger King definitely delivers otherwise.
I always get mines to go cause ya never know lol ? #wendys A photo posted by JL Smoove (@kingleo13) on Nov 22, 2015 at 5:15pm PST
Wendy’s doesn’t have as many vegan options as other restaurants, but if need be, you can grab a plain baked potato, apples, and side salad with light Asian chile vinaigrette, Italian vinaigrette, or light honey French dressing. Again, the fries can be considered vegan so long as you don’t mind the shared-frier aspect.
Sorry to get your hopes up, but this needs to be said: McDonald’s fries are NOT vegan. Their cooking oils contain hydrolyzed milk and beef flavoring, and the rest of the menu offers very few substantial plant-based options (unless you want to eat about 8 bags of sub-par apple slices to silence your grumbling stomach?). My opinion? Steer clear of Mickey D’s.
Sandwich, Soup, or Salad?
#potbellysandwichshop Hot soup! Abit salty but still Yummy. A photo posted by 史 (@freefreeser) on May 26, 2015 at 8:58am PDT
Potbelly’s good vibes don’t only come through via their eclectic decor, but their vegan options will make you smile as well. If you’re starved for a hearty sub, order a Mediterranean without cheese or a PB&J from their underground menu (their multigrain bread contains honey, so regular white is the way to go). In the mood for a less carb-heavy option? Go for a chickpea veggie salad without cheese or eggs, or try my personal fav, the Mediterranean salad with no cheese or chicken. Choose from non-fat, potbelly, or balsamic vinaigrette but opt against the croutons as they might contain some of their multigrain bread. Also, their garden vegetable soup is always a reliable way to sooth the soul.
#Subway #Vegan #VeggieDelite A photo posted by Mauro Chaves (@maurowpchaves) on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:57am PDT
Subway is always reassuring in that you can watch the preparation of your meal in order to know exactly what you’re eating. The salads can definitely satisfy vegan diets, but sandwiches will provide more of a well-balanced meal. Pick either the Italian white, sourdough, or roasted garlic bread, pack with extra veggies for no extra charge, try guac when in season, and finish with oil, vinegar, mustard, or sweet onion sauce.
Lay’s classic chips, Oven Baked Original Lay’s, original Sun Chips, and apples are all valid vegan sides. Subway is even starting to offer vegan options including Malibu garden and black bean subs in bigger cities like LA or DC, so keep an eye out as these hopefully start to spread across the country.
No bread!! ??#jimmyjohnsunwich #lettucewrap #yum #nocarbs #lightlunch A photo posted by Tris. (@lovelaree_) on Feb 13, 2015 at 10:30am PST
Though fewer options than other sandwich joints, Jimmy John’s will serve you herbivores through their gourmet or regular vegetarian unwich (aka lettuce wrap) without cheese or mayo. Add in avocado spread to give a little oomph, and top with oil and vinegar or Italian vinaigrette. All of their chips are vegan, too, besides the salt and vinegar flavor.
Edamame soba noodle bowl ? #panera #vegan #veganpanera #whatveganseat #vegannoms #veggielove #vegansofinstagram #edamamae #sobanoodles A photo posted by Rachel (@rachella_musicandarts) on May 9, 2015 at 2:08pm PDT
Being one of my fav restaurants, I could ramble on and on about my love for their customer service, natural ingredients, and full flavor, but I’ll save you from this rant. Here’s the plethora you can choose from: PB&J or Mediterranean veggie café sandwich (no feta) on sourdough, stone-milled rye, country loaf, or sesame semolina bread; soba noodle bowl with edamame; garden vegetable soup with no pesto or low fat vegetarian black bean soup (maybe in a bread bowl if your feeling frisky); Greek salad with no cheese, ancient grain, arugula, and chicken salad hold the chicken; strawberry poppyseed summer salad; Mediterranean chicken and quinoa salad without chicken.
Choose among Greek, poppyseed, low fat thai chili, reduced sugar Asian sesame, or white balsamic fuji apple as your dressing of choice, and enjoy a side of fruit, potato chips, or a French baguette. Also try their plain, blueberry, sweet onion poppyseed, sesame, and everything bagels toasted with peanut butter or any smoothie made without yogurt and whip.
Concerned about cross-contamination? Let them know that you have an allergy to meat and dairy and they will use clean equipment and take more caution in preparing your meal.
See? It’s possible.
When looking for vegan-friendly food, it is always important to do research and beware of cross-contamination and hidden animal-based ingredients. Based on their information publicly available, all of these restaurants provide substantial, plant-based food that will help you stay pure in your vegan dieting even in the face of inescapable cravings or tight situations.