Whether you’re short on time or away from home, fast food can be convenient. Luckily, vegan fast food options are popping up more & more. This means even more plant-based options, even in unlikely places.
I love a 100% plant-based restaurant as much as the next vegan. Few things make me happier than opening up a menu & being able to order anything on it.
But in some towns, vegan restaurants don’t exist. You pull up Happy Cow, and the phone almost starts smoking for lack of options.
In those cases, it’s lucky indeed to know that vegan fast food options are starting to spread. When you’re starving and in Middle of Nowhere, Farm Country, it’s nice to have nationwide chains with plant-based menu options to fill the gap.
Here are some vegan fast food options. Keep in mind that restaurants change their menus. Also, what’s available in one part of the country may not be in another.
(All pictures of indoor dining were taken pre-pandemic.)
Vegan options abound at Chipotle with black & pinto beans, fajita vegetables, rice, salsa, guacamole, and their beloved tofu sofritas. The pleasantly spiced organic tofu makes a meal there all the more satiating and flavorful.
My standard order is a set of three hard shell tacos. But you can also get any of your preferred ingredients in a bowl or burrito.
Even when you’re in a small town, you can likely find a meatless burger, thanks to the Impossible Whopper at Burger King.
They have over 7,000 locations for you to grab a burger and fries. Just request no mayo.
Other plant-based options include oatmeal, hash browns, and Dutch apple pie.
If you prefer your burgers in slider form, drive on up to White Castle. They offer the Impossible slider or a veggie slider on mini buns.
Order without cheese – unless you live in New Jersey or NYC, where dairy-free cheddar is available.
Fill out the meal with french fries or applesauce.
Carl’s Jr. was one of the first fast food places to jump on the Beyond Meat train. At this fast food sandwich place, grab a Beyond Famous Star burger. Just be sure to order it without mayo and cheese for a vegan option.
Finish out your meal with french fries, crisscut fries, hash rounds, or hash brown nuggets.
At breakfast (until 10:30 a.m.) they also offer a Beyond Sausage Burrito. Order it without egg or cheese for to make it vegan.
The same company that owns Carl’s Jr. also owns Hardee’s. Sadly, the vegan options at Hardee’s don’t measure up in the same way. They do have a vegan burger, but no bun to go with it. Personally, I’m not going somewhere that has a lettuce leaf for a bun when there are so many better options available.
Need a cold, sweet treat? At Dairy Queen they offer Dilly Bars made with coconut milk ice cream. It’s covered in a crunchy chocolate coating. Bonus: It’s also gluten-free.
You can also buy them by the box if you want to keep some on hand in the freezer.
Baskin Robbins has had a non-dairy option on the menu for as long as I can remember with their Daiquiri ice. A second sorbet, Watermelon Splash Ice, is also dairy free.
But now dairy-free consumers have even more options with non-dairy chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate extreme, and coffee caramel chunk.
They’re made with a base of coconut oil and almond butter. The chocolate extreme is also gluten free.
The set-up at Blaze Pizza is similar to Chipotle, where a pizza maker behind the counter slides down a row of toppings with you, asking which ones you’d like on your individual pizza. (Depending on your appetite, one pizza could serve two.)
The pizzas are cooked in a brick oven for 180 seconds and served with blackened crisp edges.
Both the traditional & gluten free crusts are vegan. You can go with the thin crust or high-rise for a little extra, which gives a more pillowy crust.
The classic red and spicy red sauces are vegan along with the barbecue sauce or olive oil. They also offer Daiya vegan cheese and vegan chorizo. The chorizo is reminiscent of Trader Joe’s soy chorizo.
Other vegan topping options include: artichokes, arugula, banana peppers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, jalapeños, mushrooms, olives, pineapple, red onions, red peppers, sautéed onions, spinach, vegan chorizo, and zucchini.
Qdoba offers Impossible meat crumbles for their tacos, burritos, and bowls. It’s right on the bar along with all the other toppings like beans, rice, and vegetables.
They don’t do much in the way of seasoning the plant meat, but it’s still tasty along with cilantro, salsa, beans, and vegetables in a taco.
Also, the guacamole is free with your entrée at Qdoba.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
In addition to your standard beans and rice, tofu is on the menu at Moe’s Southwest Grill. It can be added to tacos, salads, nachos, burritos, and fajitas.
The marinated tofu is on the bland side, but it’s still nice to have the option when beans just aren’t enough.
They also have crunch wraps, which they call stacks.
Although non-dairy cheese is usually the “glue” for the stacks, it seals just fine without it. I had mine with beans, tofu, salsa, guacamole, olives, cilantro, and jalapeños.
Noodles & Company
Noodles & Company is a fast casual chain that’s similar in tone to Panera or Baja Fresh.
They have one option on the menu that’s vegan without substitutions – Japanese pan noodles. It’s made with udon noodles, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms in a sweet soy sauce.
For an extra bump of protein, you can add tofu to any dish.
They also have several menu items that can be prepared vegan with a few substitutions. To see all of those, check out my vegan Noodles and Company post.
Taco Bell is the O.G. in terms of vegan options at fast food restaurants. Order “fresco style” to replace cheese, sour cream, and ranch sauce with pico de gallo.
Here’s what to order:
- Black bean crunchwrap without sour cream & nacho cheese sauce
- Bean burrito fresco style
- Power bowl without sour cream or ranch sauce
- Crunchy or soft taco, sub beans for beef
- Black beans & rice
- Cinnamon twists
Word on the street is that Taco Bell will be adding Beyond Meat sometime in 2021.
Beyond Meat isn’t just for burgers. You can also find it in tacos and burritos at Del Taco.
They use seasoned Beyond Meat crumbles for their Epic Beyond Original Mex and Beyond Fresh avocado burritos, as well as the avocado taco. Other fillings include guacamole, cilantro-lime rice, pico de galo, salsa, black beans, and lettuce.
You can also order a Beyond 8-layer burrito, Epic Beyond Cali burrito, or Beyond tacos, but request no cheese or sour cream.
My favorite thing about Del Taco is that you can get both fries and tacos in the same meal. So don’t forget their crinkle cut variety!
Other vegan items on the menu include hash brown sticks and the avocado veggie bowl.
If you need a vegan breakfast option, Starbucks has oatmeal to go with your soy, coconut, or almond milk latte.
They offer classic and blueberry oatmeal. They pour hot water on instant oatmeal. Then you let it sit while covered for 3 minutes. After that, you can pour on any toppings you like – dried fruit, nuts, and/or brown sugar.
It’s a substantive option that’s handy when you can’t make a full breakfast at home.
Starbucks also offers vegan bagels, as well as avocado spread or nut butter that can be used as a topping. Starbucks’ vegan bagels include sprouted grain, plain, raisin, and blueberry.
They also have some packaged items like potato chips, dried fruit, nuts, and the like.
Depending on the city, some of the refrigerated boxes are vegan like chickpea bites & avocado protein box, fruit salad, and lentils & vegetable protein bowl. Options vary by location.
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
If hunger strikes at the mall, look no further than Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Simply order any of the following without butter: original, cinnamon sugar, sweet almond, garlic, jalapeño, or raisin pretzels.
Note that you will have to wait about five minutes while it’s made fresh, but that’s a feature not a bug.
For a dipping sauce, I like to use a packet of mustard. (Obviously I don’t recommend that for any of the sweet pretzels. Haha!)
Peet’s recently added a vegan breakfast sandwich to the menu with Just Egg, non-dairy cheddar, and Beyond Sausage on a toasted everything bagel thin. Complete the meal with a soy latte.
Lots of the bagels at Bruegger’s are vegan. My favorite is rosemary olive oil.
Other vegan bagel options include: blueberry, onion, poppy, sesame, chocolate chip, cinnamon sugar, garlic, pumpkin, Bruegger bites, cranberry orange, everything, plain pumpernickel, salt, and sun-dried tomato.
Steer clear of these non-vegan options: cinnamon raisin, French toast, 12 grain, egg, whole wheat, 5 grain everything, Asiago parmesan, and jalapeño cheddar.
For a short time, Bruegger’s offered Daiya non-dairy cream cheese. Sadly, they have since taken it off the menu.
For non-dairy spread options, they have hummus or peanut butter. Neither is particularly inspiring. I recommend picking up bagels and then using your own vegan cream cheese at home.
Content and photos updated March 20, 2021. Originally posted September 30, 2016.