Fast food restaurants and vegan just does not fit well in the same sentence even up until today. But we need to recognize the fact that these food chains have done a lot in the past few years to accommodate vegan or vegetarian diets into their menu, some more than the others.
In this article, we’ve listed down and tried to categorize many of the different fast-food restaurants all over the world that offers vegan foods. People are just more health-conscious nowadays that even fast-food chains need to adapt if they don’t want to lose customers.
So, what can vegans order at fast-food restaurants today? Here’s our comprehensive guide.
What is considered vegan?
We know that a lot of you know what entails a vegan diet but some are still confused and would want to compare what’s available in their local fast-food chain to what’s really considered vegan, so, let’s define the term a little bit as it can get a bit vague.
We’re not going to go deep into this part of the discussion though and in a nutshell, a vegan diet is like a more intense and rigorous form of a vegetarian diet. It’s stricter that is.
Currently, it is defined as not just a diet but a lifestyle that excludes all forms of animal exploitation as well as cruelty. So that means that a vegan’s diet will not include animal flesh, dairy, eggs, and other animal-derived ingredients.
This includes honey, gelatin, carmine, shellac, pepsin, whey, albumin, casein, as well as any other forms of vitamin D3. And just to touch on the whole vegetarian and vegan contrast, vegetarians are the ones who consider consuming animal by-products as acceptable while vegans, stricter than they are, completely won’t. Examples of by-products are milk and eggs. Vegans fight for the right of animals to be completely free from human use.
So, now you have a better idea of what’s vegan on your fast-food chain’s menu the next time you visit one.
Vegan foods in fast-food restaurants
Are there any fast-food chains that offer 100% plant-based foods on their menu? How many are offering vegan foods in their slate constantly? Which restaurant is your best bet to have vegan food available and which chains are behind the whole vegan revolution and what’s in store for vegans and fast foods in the future? Let’s find out.
Here is a list of all the fast-food restaurants that offer vegan options on their menu
- Carl’s Jr.
- Burger King
- Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers
- White Castle
- Dunkin Donuts
- Dairy Queen
- Del Taco
- Taco Bell
- Jamba Juice
- Johnny Rockets
- Papa John’s
- Pizza Hut
- Domino’s Pizza
- Blaze Pizza
- Little Caesars
- Auntie Anne’s
- Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs
- Sonic Drive-In
- Panda Express
- Long John Silvers
We’re pretty sure that there are still quite a few names that we’ve missed but as far as popular joints are concerned these are the ones that offer at least one vegan option in their menu.
In a later section, we will try and point out or enumerate if there are a few known 100% plant-based or vegan fast-food chains. It’s also important to take note that not all branches of said or listed fast food joints may carry vegan options. Some won’t due to a few factors.
You take into consideration its location, food trend, diet trend, and availability of ingredients. Also, since these fast-food chains are located on numerous branches worldwide, you can’t expect, for example, a McDonald’s from the US to carry vegan French fries as compared to a branch in the UK. More on that later.
So, which one of these fast-food restaurants offers the most and the best vegan food options?
These questions are a bit hard to answer given the fact that we’ve mentioned that availability varies per branch or country. But there are a few popular fast-food restaurants that are ahead of the race and have put forth significant efforts on including vegan options in their slate.
The most prominent ones and in no particular order are Carl’s Jr. Burger King, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Dunkin Donuts, Chipotle, and White Castle. We’ll talk about which specific vegan food items they are famous for in a later section.
What exactly is Impossible and Beyond Meat?
We can’t talk about vegan food options in fast food chains without talking about Impossible and Beyond Meat. What exactly are these companies and why are their products a perfect fit for fast food chains going vegan?
First, let’s talk about Impossible Foods Incorporated. Impossible is a company that develops plant-based substitutes in place of meat products. The company was just founded last 2011 and of course, they aim to provide good tasting food as well as the nutrition of meat products without all of its negative effects both in health and the environment.
Their meat substitutes were famously utilized for Burger King’s Impossible Whoppers and we can say that it was a considerable hit. Only last 2019, Little Caesars have recently tested their meat substitutes on their sausages.
Beyond Meat is another company that strives for the same set of ideals that Impossible does. They believe that all positive choices such as vegan options no matter how small will have a huge impact on the world and its future.
They wish to help address four global pressing issues: our health, climate change, depletion of natural resources, and of course, animal welfare.
So, what is exactly on these plant-based meats?
So, the pressing question now is what exactly do companies like Impossible and Beyond Meat use for their meat substitutes?
Pretty much both these companies use a few similar ingredients. For Beyond Meat, they use Peas, Mung Beans, Faba Beans, and brown rice for their proteins. Their fats are made from Cocoa butter, coconut oil, and expeller-pressed canola oil. For their minerals, they use calcium, iron, salt, and potassium chloride. For their flavors, they use beet juice extract, apple extract, and other natural flavors. And lastly, for their carbohydrates, they use potato starch and plant fiber derivatives.
Impossible burgers, on the other hand, are made from soy protein concentrate, sunflower oil, coconut oil, potato protein, yeast extract, methylcellulose, salt, gums, water, and some additives that include Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, zinc, thiamin, and niacin.
What’s the not-so-secret ingredient that gives Impossible burgers that meaty taste? Well, that’s heme which is an iron-containing compound that comes from soy and yeast fermentation.
So, right now the million-dollar question is: Are these meat substitutes really as healthy as they claim that they’ll be?
The biggest argument when it comes to meat substitutes is that while they contain no cholesterol at all is that they are still high on sodium and saturated fats. Meat substitutes are also a very good source of protein, fiber, potassium, and calcium.
So, having said all of that, it’s safe to say that if you want to lessen your intake of meat then go for meat substitutes. But still go easy on the Impossible and Beyond Meat burgers as sodium and saturated fats are still very high on the list of what’s causing obesity and serious health issues and the reason why this is important to point out is that almost all fast-food chains that offer vegan foods are all offering burgers and other food in the menu that contains meat substitutes.
On a different vein, if you want to really live healthy then go for 100% plant-based foods. If your local fast-food chain offers them then go for them instead of the burgers. Also, please take note, that there are people that are allergic to soy so better watch out for these meat substitutes.
So, what about the French fries? We also need to talk about French fries, in general, because they are one of the most served foods in fast food chains. Are they vegan and which ones offer vegan French fries?
Well, lucky for us, most of the fast-food chains that offer vegan options also serve vegan French fries. Well, French fries are vegan to begin, and only if a chain processes them with animal-derived ingredients is when it becomes non-vegan.
These vary and usually, fast food chains don’t disclose their ingredients for French fries so be extra vigilant or just ask your server. No matter what we do, French fries are the perfect mate for those vegan burgers that’s why they are relevant.
Do chicken substitute exists?
Good question! Probably but only in the form of chicken nuggets and mixed in with your chicken salad. Chicken substitutes are not as prevalent as meat substitutes made for burgers by Impossible and Beyond Meat. Aside from burgers and fries, chicken meals are one of the bestsellers of fast food chains all over the globe so a substitute for it may soon be on the horizon.
What can vegans order at fast food restaurants then?
Let’s list down some of the famous vegan food options that you may order in these fast food restaurants we’ve mentioned.
Carl’s Jr. – Beyond Famous Star with Cheese
The fast food has since discontinued their famous Beyond BBQ cheeseburger but the Beyond Famous Star with Cheese has since taken over as one of the favorites of the crowd. This is a 100% plant-based burger with patty from Beyond Meat with cheese, tomato, lettuce, sliced onions, special sauce, dill pickles, and mayonnaise all wrapped up in a seeded bun.
Great tasty option if you’re looking to cut on your meat intake or if you’re looking to eat a vegan-ish meal. It’s the perfect grub should you want to eat anything meat-free, fast, and perfect for the road.
Burger King – Impossible Whopper
Another popular vegan choice when it comes to fast food is Burger King’s Impossible Whopper. What’s great about this vegan choice is that it is available almost anywhere in the US in all branches of Burger King.
Plus, a lot of vegans truly attest to how they cannot tell the difference between this and real beef burgers so it’s right away getting a perfect score when it comes to taste and flavor. So, say goodbye to the original whopper, maybe? Grab this is one in all 7000+ Burger King Branches nationwide.
White Castle – Impossible Slider with Smoked Cheddar
The modernized version of the famous White Castle Slider has been available and it’s a surefire hit! The Impossible meat substitute is smothered in smoke cheddar which further elevates all the flavors and coming together nicely.
The Impossible Slider with Smoked Cheddar is available in New York and New Jersey area and you can even pair it up with dairy-free cheddar to make it even more vegan.
Dunkin’ – Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich & Southwest Veggie Power Breakfast Sandwich
Dunkin Donuts has been one of those iconic chains that offer vegan options. Their meat-free spin on the classic sausage and muffin combo is also a bestseller. Your breakfast meals will not only be tasty but healthy too.
Dairy Queen – Non-Dairy Dilly Bar
Love a nice ice-cold ice cream bar but hate dairy? Well, your local Dairy Queen or endearingly known as DQ now offers exactly what you’ve been craving for with their non-dairy Dilly bars.
It’s gluten-free and coconut cream based so it’s definitely right up your alley.
Del Taco – Beyond 8 Layer Burrito, Beyond Taco, Beyond Avocado Taco, Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito
Del Taco is probably one of those fast-food chains that offer a lot of vegan options. Who does not love taco and burritos, right? Well, their food options may not be completely vegan as they are maybe on the vegetarian side of things but they are definitely as healthy as they come.
But still, you get to enjoy the crunchy Tacos they are known for and pair that up with Beyond Meat’s meat substitute then you have yourself a treat. Just so many options to choose from with Del Taco!
Starbucks – Impossible Breakfast Sandwich
Starbucks also offers Impossible Breakfast Sandwiches so if you want to pair it up with your favorite Starbucks coffee then you get other healthy options day in and day out. They are located almost anywhere in the country so that’s one major plus.
Taco Bell – Customizable Pizza and Wraps
Taco Bell is kind of a veteran too when it comes to vegan meals. As a matter of fact, they are deemed as the saving grace for vegans for their multiple vegans and vegetarian food options.
With their customizable menu you may easily swap dairy and meat items with something else just as good tasting but a little bit healthier. Their philosophy is simple foods and simple preparations but top quality.
Chipotle – Vegetarian bowls and other Mexican delights
The same setup as with Taco Bell, Chipotle has long been a place where vegans and vegetarians alike may fill up on their cravings. They are famous for their vegetable bowls, burritos, taco, and salad.
You can mix and match every time you visit a Chipotle store and you will never run out of tasty and top-quality vegan food choices. Their Sofritas and Guacamole fillings can be the main ingredient of your mix and they will taste superb for sure. Plus, they are available almost at all of their branches nationwide.
Subway – Beyond Marinara Meatball
Another fast-food vegan haven is Subway. Their Beyond Marinara Meatballs are surefire hits and that’s 24 grams of protein per 6 inches of sub. That’s just one of their famous dishes as vegans and vegetarians alike will tell you that this chain is pretty much a godsend for them.
Their veggie patties, signature wraps, and subs are a delight for anyone trying to eat healthily or at least trying to cut on the meat.
McDonald’s is not necessarily at the forefront of churning out vegan or even vegetarian options for their customers. But their efforts are worth mentioning given that they are a legit international brand.
> Read more: Vegan options at McDonald’s.
McDonald’s has been teasing about what they call the Mcplant but so far it has been released to only Denmark and Sweden. And also, Sweden has only been the country with McDonald’s that are developing vegan burgers. But yeah, right now they have salads, some fruits, and drinks that are vegan and also their very own Beyond Meat patties.
KFC – Beyond Chicken Sandwich
KFC is also one of those global brands and so it’s only imperative that they also churn out a few vegan meals. Well, they have a few and since they are famous for their chicken then naturally they’ve churned out a Beyond Chicken Sandwich so far in their menu.
Unfortunately, this was only a test run.
Pizza Hut – “A lot”
Well, they have these ingredients in their food:
- Thin N’ Crispy, Hand Tossed, and Original Pan® dough
- Classic Marinara sauce
- Medium Buffalo sauce
- Cinnamon Sticks (no icing)
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Banana Peppers
- Diced Tomatoes
- Green Peppers
- Black Olives
These are vegan ingredients but take note that when you order vegan or vegetarian from them that the people who prepare them also handle meat for their other food offerings so maybe that’s noteworthy for vegans.
Also, they once offered a Garden Specialty Pizza which was a delight for vegans but no longer does right now. Pizza Hut in the UK has a lot of vegan options. Pretty decent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a vegan diet really healthy?
You bet! A diet composed of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts is the healthiest way to go. A well-planned and balanced vegan diet can prevent a lot of diseases and illnesses and can really give you a good quality of life.
Low fat, no cholesterol, and high on antioxidants kind of diet will go a long way for your physical health and it can prevent obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, etc.
If you eat vegan, where do you get your protein and other nutrients?
Go for the old-school vegan way of acquiring all of your protein dietary needs. Go for tofu, seitan, tempeh, lentils, beans, chickpeas, seeds, and nuts.
Just think about it, some of the biggest as well as the toughest animals in wildlife are herbivores so there’s no reason why you can’t be one too and still acquire all of your protein needs.
Do I need any supplements while on a vegan diet?
Most of the time people say that they need supplements if they go vegan because they won’t get all of the nutrients that they need from the food group. But this is wrong or at least not entirely right.
For example, you can get all of your calcium needs from green leafy vegetables, beans, figs, and almonds which are all a huge part of the vegan diet. It’s all about the balance.
What’s so wrong with consuming dairy and what about free-range eggs?
Dairy and eggs are all by-products of animals. What people don’t know is that most are acquired through the cruelty and exploitation of such animals. And that’s what vegans are against. And yes, even with free-range eggs there can be maltreatment to hens.
So yes, vegan options exist in your favorite fast-food chains. You just need to know what to order and know if their local branch near you offers them. As mentioned, these fast food restaurants kind of need to go with the trend or risk losing customers.
And we really think that rightfully so, people should be more aware of the food that they buy and consume. And it’s not just to eat healthily, it’s to aid the depletion of our resources, it’s to lessen animal exploitation & cruelty, and it’s the more eco-friendly choice.
So the next time you get to your favorite fast-food chain, try the vegan options, you’d be surprised that they just taste as good.