Vegan Fast Food
Below is our guide to vegan fast food. Send us your recommendations!
For local vegan restaurants: HappyCow
For local vegan restaurants: HappyCow
You'll find three flavors of vegan ice cream at Basking-Robbins: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Extreme, and Coffee Caramel Chunk. Their Daiquiri Ice and Watermelon Splash sorbets are also vegan. Sidenote: the son of BR's founder wrote the book "Diet for a New America" in 1987 promoting a plant-based diet, and refused to participate in his father's business. Later in life, the father, BR's founder, suffered from severe diet-related disease, until his doctor handed him his son's book. Hear the story on Gaia.
Blaze Pizza offers vegan cheese! Their regular dough and gluten-free doughs are both vegan, and you can also get vegan spicy chorizo as a topping (and all the veggies of course). Pieology also offers vegan cheese at select locations. You can do vegan at other pizza chains, but you'll have to go cheeseless. For example, Domino's thin crust Pacific Veggie Pizza (sans cheese) is vegan, Little Caesars can do veggie-only toppings on a regular crust, and all crusts at Papa John's are vegan. Also, Pizza Hut started offering Beyond Meat as a topping in November 2020. But if going cheeseless makes you feel cheated, and if you know how to turn on an oven, grab a frozen Daiya Supreme! It takes less than 20 minutes to heat, and includes vegan cheese, meatless sausage, mushrooms and bell peppers on a gluten-free crust. UPDATE: For frozen, we just discovered the Sweet Earth Veggie Lover at Target (add your own Tofurkey Italian Sausage and other toppings).
Now offers the Impossible Whopper (get it without cheese or cream dressing). Burger King's fries are also vegan! Unfortunately that's not true at McD's — their fries are flavored with cow juice. Also vegan at BK are the hashbrowns, French Toast Sticks, Apple Pie, and the garden salad (ask for no cheese and non-dairy dressing).
Carl's Jr. & Hardee's
Carl's Jr. offers the Beyond Famous Star (at Hardees, it's the Beyond Thickburger). Actually, you can replace any of Carl's Jr's burger selections with a Beyond Burger patty. Just be sure to ask for no cheese, no mayo, and no "special sauce" on anything. Their Crisscut and Natural-Cut French Fries are both vegan, as is the side salad if ordered without cheese. Carl's Jr also has Fried Zucchini. On their breakfast menu, the Beyond Sausage Burrito (Hardee's Beyond Breakfast Sausage Biscuit) can be ordered without egg and cheese. And the breakfast Hash Rounds are vegan.
The tacos, burritos and bowls can be ordered meatless by using Fajita Veggies as your filling (in which case guacamole is added for free), or you can replace meat with Sofritas (organic tofu). But still add guac! The white/brown rice are both vegan, and you can choose between black or pinto beans (or ask for a mix). Whatever you order, be sure to include fajita veggies, lettuce, and salsa. If you're hungry, then rather than a taco or burrito, try: Veggie Bowl, with a mix of black+pinto beans, fajita veggies, guac, mild salsa, lettuce, (optional: sofritas), and add a side of chips for a nacho-style feast. By the way, Chipotle's non-GMO claims only apply to their plant-based foods, not any animal products.
Guess who's taken a first (baby) step toward becoming the world's future Non-Dairy Queen! Their Non-Dairy Dilly Bars are coconut milk-based ice cream dipped in vegan chocolate. Yum. Their fries are also vegan, as are the Misty Slushes. Unfortunately you can't yet make a vegan meal here.
Del Taco has been a trailblazer in plant-based fast-food. On their menu you'll find Beyond Avocado Tacos and the Beyond Avocado Burrito, which are both vegan. Also try the Avocado Veggie Bowl and/or Epic Beyond Burritos. The "Beyond Vegetarian" offerings (e.g. Beyond 8 Layer Burrito or the Epic Beyond Cali Burrito) can be made vegan by ordering them without cheese or sour cream. Or, since Del Taco's entire menu is "made-to-order", you can get any other menu item with Beyond Meat as a replacement for animal flesh. The crinkle-cut fries and hashbrown sticks at Del Taco are also vegan.
Now offers the Beyond Burger, topped with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and pickles on a multigrain bun. Ask for no cheese and no sauce (just add ketchup yourself). Alternatively, replace any of their burger offerings with a veggie patty (which is a Dr. Praeger's or Amys veggie burger). Also vegan at Denny's are the seasoned French fries, baked potatoes with vegetable toppings, Veggie Skillet (if orderd with no egg or butter), English muffins, oatmeal, bagels, applesauce, fresh fruit, vegetable plates, and garden salad with light Italian dressing.
Offers a Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. This is a Beyond Sausage on an English muffin (yes, the English muffins are vegan). But ask for no egg and no cheese. The hash browns are also vegan, and they've even begun offering almond milk for their coffee drinks.
El Pollo Loco
Now offers vegan chicken! Try their Chickenless Pollo Taco or Burrito. Be sure to ask for no cheese and no Creamy Dressing to make them vegan.
Offers the Impossible Burger with Daiya cheese! Be sure to ask for the Daiya cheese, and no mayo. The Fat Fries, Skinny Fries, and Sweet Potato Fries are vegan, and you can even get a vanilla or strawberry milkshake made with vegan ice cream!
In-N-Out used to be cool, but at this point it's pretty much Out. Their only vegan menu item is fries. If you're desperate, you might try ordering: "Hamburger, no patty, no sauce, mustard and ketchup instead, both types of onions, chiles, pickles, and extra toasted buns". Hopefully In-N-Out will start considering their conscientious-former-customers, the cows-that-made-em-rich and the environment-of-future-generations soon. On these issues, old-school is not cool.
Offers a Black Bean (gardein) Burger, with option to add avocado.
Emerging from it's Kentucky Fried Cruel past, KFC has recently launched the Beyond Chicken Sandwich. However, it's fried, and it's fried in the same fryers/oil as the chicken bodies. Not perfect, but much better than eating the bodies straight. KFC's corn on the cob and green beans make good vegan sides.
At the moment, McDonald's doesn't have much for anyone on a plant-based diet. However, that should soon change! McDonald's is slowly rolling out a new plant-based platform called 'McPlant', which can already be found at select locations. Until your location is available, McDonald's should be avoided.
The Eggplant Tofu is vegan and filling. You can also do their chow mein, and then mix in a side of Super Greens (it's a mix of broccoli, kale, and cabbage). Make either even more filling with a side of Veggie Spring Rolls. Fyi, both their brown and white rice are vegan (this isn't always the case at restaurants, as meat stocks are often added).
Try their healthy Baja Grain Bowl or Mediterranean Grain Bowl (order both without feta or yogurt). Other options include the Vegan Lentil Quinoa Broth Bowl and the Soba Noodle Broth Bowl with Edamame.
Still no vegan cheese as of 2021, boo. But if you love their pizzas, you can do a Garden Veggie or Gourmet Vegetarian pizza with all the veggies, swap the white sauce with marinara / barbeque / or traditional red sauce, hold the cheese and herb/cheese shaker. Then add your own Daiya or Follow Your Heart cheese at home before/during baking. See Blaze for other pizza ideas.
Plant Power Fast Food
The future of fast food is currently in Southern California and coming soon to Sacramento! 100% plant-based burgers, fries, and shakes: Classic 'bacon cheeseburger', holy guacamole burger, battered buffalo wings, chick'n nuggets, kaleslaw, raw tacos, chocolate cheezecake, Just Egg breakfast burrito, and more.
Try the Veggie Sub on white or wheat bread, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, mushrooms, guacamole and balsamic vinaigrette. No cheese, thanks.
In addition to their selection of dairy free milks (almond, coconut, soy, and as of Spring 2021 Oatly oat milk), you can now get a filling Vegan Protein Bowl, which has brown rice, lentils, butternut squash, roasted tomatoes, and sunflower seeds, with a lemon-tahini dressing.
Some locations are now offering the Beyond Meatball Marinara sub, and some offer falafel. However, Subway's Veggie Delite has long been a staple for vegans who want something healthy+fresh, and all locations offer it. Try the Veggie Delite with no cheese, all the veggies, and add avocado. Better yet, add double avocado! And you can ask for extra of any favorite veggies. Vegan breads include the Hearty Italian, 9-Grain Wheat, Roasted Garlic, and Sourdough, as well as the spinach or tomato basil wraps. Alternatively, order that Veggie Delite as a salad! Note the Subway's veggie pattie is NOT vegan — it contains egg and milk.
You can make many items on Taco Bell's menu vegan by swapping beans for meat, and by requesting "Fresco Style". Fresco omits the cheese and sour cream. Add any salad/veggie items, and guacamole to make it more filling. For example, try a Bean Burrito, fresco style, and add guacamole, jalapenos and extra onions. Or try swapping beans for meat in the Crunchwrap Supreme or Mexican Pizza, and request no cheese or cream (again, just say "fresco style"). Taco Bell's website provides awesome instructions for ordering vegan. And for a little dessert, their Cinnamon Twists are vegan.
TGI Fridays now serves the vegan Beyond Burger. Ask for no cheese and dairy-free sauce. Note that the Challah bun is vegan, the gluten-free bun is not.
We've never been to a Veggie Grill, but if there's one near you, legend has it that everything on their menu is vegan.
Their Impossible Sliders (mini burgers) are vegan if ordered without cheese. Vegan sauces include the Smoky BBQ sauce, Nashville-Inspired Hot Sauce, and Sweet Chili Sauce.
Arby's • Chick-Fil-A • Fuddruckers • In-N-Out Burger • Jack in the Box
Above chains have such extremely lousy vegan options that they should be avoided at all costs.
For healthy plant-based meals, nothing beats preparing your own!
Well, recipes from the movies we recommend ☺
You're gonna quickly see that you're not giving up anything by going plant-based! Remember to bookmark recipes you'd like to try.
You may be more likely to find more WFPB (whole foods, plant based) recipes on these sites:
Not a specifically vegan recipe site, but search for "vegan + your desired dish" and you can find just about any recipe veganized. For example: vegan chocolate cake
Great Reddit channel for cooking inspiration/ideas.
Could you use some guidance from a real person? Challenge22 can help.
Experimenting with easy recipes is the surest way to find vegan meals you love. However, if you have zero interest in cooking, these services deliver boxes of ready-to-heat, plant-based meals to you:
The best plant-based products on Earth grow directly out of the earth, and can be found in the produce area and bulk bins of any decent supermarket. But here are some favorite packaged foods you might also want to try.
It's not exactly healthy (lots of coconut oil), but hopefully you're not eating cheese for your health. At least this one's made with plants, not pus.
Miyoko's is expensive (~$10), but it's amazing. Try it for your next special occassion. It's expensive because it's made with nuts.
Oat doesn't just make one of the best-tasting vegan milks, it's also one of the best choices for the environment. We recommend Oatly's medium-thick version in the bluish container (not "whole", not "skinny", but "semi"). Find your nearest retailer with the Oatly Finder. Bonus: it's fortified with calcium and B12!
One big difference you'll notice among plant-based milks is the amount of sugar. Some are as sweet as soft drinks, others are similar to cow secretion, and others (like this pea-protein-based Ripple, which also contains calcium+B12) go sugar free. It may take a little experimentation to find your sweet spot.
If you're a coffee drinker, you'll have no trouble finding soy/almond/coconut/oat and other vegan creamers. Here's one we like.
Egg from plants (rather than the backside of a chicken) with zero cholesterol. Great for scrambles, omelettes, pancakes, etc.
Ugh, I can't believe I ever ate butter — the solidified secretion of a cow's nipple, gross. Try this.
Violife gets our vote for best plant-based parmesan cheese. Note that it requires a grater. Follow Your Heart is a good pre-grated alternative.
Tofurkey's Italian sausage makes an excellent addition to any pasta dish. But don't be surprised if you find yourself eating them straight out of the package.
No, they don't taste like hot dogs — it's difficult to simulate the taste of pig faces, butts and guts with plants. But think of Field Roasts as something new, and they taste great!
If you were ever a chicken nugget addict, you'll love gardein.
We like to cut these up and add 'em to quinoa/avocado/veggie bowls, salads, etc. They have a spicy taste, and a crunchy/fried texture.
Tired of tofu? Pumfu may sound strange, but it's an amazing product. 100% organic pumpkin seeds and filtered water, no other ingredients. And it doesn't taste like pumpkin or tofu – we can't describe it, just try it!
Wow, we just said it's difficult to simulate the taste of dead animals with plants, but the scientists at Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have done it — without the hormones, antibiotics, blood, cholesterol or cruelty!
The main ingredient in hummus is protein-packed garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). Most brands are vegan.
An amazing, special occasion spread. The only drawback is that it's too good to eat in moderation.
If making a plant-based pizza, Daiya cheese comes pre-shredded. Or you can just buy one of their pre-made frozen pizzas, add some fresh veggies on top — and maybe some more Daiya on top of that! For frozen, we also recommend the Sweet Earth Veggie Lover from Target or Whole Foods (add your own Tofurkey Italian Sausage).
The best chocolate cake ever is vegan! Although Just Desserts products are sold many places, we seem to find this vegan gem most consistently at Safeway/Albertsons.
The Cowboy Creamies from Sugar Plum Bakery are amazing. Actually, everything they sell is amazing! In addition to delivery, some local markets sell their stuff.
It's called Coconut Bliss because it's made with coconut milk, but it comes in several flavors, including this decadent dark chocolate.
This brown rice ramen from Costco is a cheap, lazy, healthy vegan's dream. Just add some vegetables (e.g. brocolli, mushrooms, bean sprouts, bok choy), maybe a meat alternative (e.g. Pumfu or tofu) and you've got a gourmet meal in 5-10 minutes. Drain for stir-fry style. Add soy sauce or bouillon for quick and easy seasoning. Note: we haven't found a cheaper source than Costco, and IN-STORE IS CHEAPER than online. Costco is also the place for quinoa and more.
If you're into beans for protein (or anything that takes long to cook), an Instant Pot could be a worthwhile purchase. If you're a 1-2 person household, go with the mini version.
Last, but certainly not least for many of us, be aware that not all alcohols are vegan. For vegan wine, you're typically safe with organic brands. Most beers are vegan, but some contain ingredients like gelatin. You can confirm that your drink is worthy of your affection at Barnivore.com, or try something new from Food52's list.
3rd Party Recommendations
"Best Vegan Foods" lists:
Supermarkets with "shop by vegan" functionality: