Whether you’ve chosen the vegan lifestyle for the environment, animal rights, or health reasons, you know it can be difficult to find food that is void of all animal products. Scrutinizing each ingredient makes going out to lunch feel like a scavenger hunt. But we’ve all got to eat, so for those days you’re not up to cooking or are in need of a quick meal while out and about, there are some fast food chains that offer options to make the task less cumbersome and more enjoyable.
Some limited-menu options are never going to work in a vegan lifestyle. Places like KFC put the meat front and center. Other restaurants will provide meat substitutes or a healthy salad, but if you’re going to KFC, the only options are corn and beans, which will likely leave you longing for more.
Most fast food chains have committed to providing at least a few vegan options and some of the options might surprise you. While most primarily hamburger-focused joints simply swap out the burger for a plant-based option, it’s enough to get you through the day. However, just like every other item on a fast food menu, you’ll want to consider the nutritional value of the product served. Menus rotate and it can be hard to keep up with this month’s changes, but there are several chains that can be reliably counted on to serve up the animal-free goods on a continual basis.
Chipotle and Qdoba
It’s right at the top of the list because Chipotle makes it easy to order vegan. Rice, beans, tortilla and the salsa, plus guacamole toppings, make a ready meal that doesn’t require much evaluation. If you don’t want the tortilla, ask them to serve it up in a bowl instead.
Qdoba is another low-effort option when craving Mexican food. Create a combination for your impossible vegan fajita bowl or ask them to toss rice and beans into a burrito or street taco. Remember to enjoy some guac and salsa with your chips too.
Other fast food Mexican joints
Not quite in the same category as Chipotle, there are several other chains that cook up south of the border fare. At Taco Bell, pick up a bean burrito or Black Bean Crunchwrap. Just remember to order them fresco style to cut out sauces and cheeses. At Del Taco, get your vegan food fix with the Beyond Avocado Taco or Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito. Again, watch for sauces and cheeses, but you can add in healthy replacements like salsa and guacamole.
Headed down the highway or across town, Subway seems to be on every corner. Fortunately, that makes them both accessible and an option for vegan eating. Start with the vegan Italian bread or a wrap. Order a Veggie Delight, substitute beef for the beyond meatball marinara or select your own recipe of your favorite ingredients as you go down the line.
Although kind of known as a sandwich shop, Panera is in a category of its own. The menu is varied enough you can eat there regularly without relying on sandwiches if it’s not your thing. Look into the vegetable soup, the smoothie options or the generous salads to reward yourself with a fast meal that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty.
Meatless burger spots
Perhaps the most readily-available fast food restaurants are those known for their Whoppers and Big Macs. However, these chains understand that consumers need options, so nearly every mainstream fast-hamburger joint offers an alternative. Pick up an impossible burger without sauce or cheese at Burger King and look for the beyond burger at McDonalds. Otherwise, you can order a salad at the golden arches too. Carl’s Jr. also serves up the Beyond Famous Star Burger. If you’re headed to Wendy’s, you won’t find a burger substitute, but you can indulge in a baked potato or a salad.
Along with the convenience cup of Joe, Starbucks offers up a rotating menu of vegan grab-and-go selections. Go with the Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal, Impossible Breakfast Sandwich (with no cheese or egg) or a bagel with Justin’s Almond Butter at breakfast and the Avocado Protein Box at lunch.
It’s refreshing and convenient. Plus, there are many vegan options to make ordering easy. Try the Purely Carrot, Great Greens or Veggie Vitality. Lots of other smoothie combinations work too. Plus, you can add boosts like kale, pumpkin seeds or chia seeds. You may be surprised to find out Jamba Juice also offers oatmeal, fruit bowls and pretzels too. You might also find the Impossible Handwich as an option.
Sometimes you just have to cater to a craving, and when you’re in the mood for some quick Chinese, Panda Express is the place to go. Fortunately, it’s got some ready-made vegan options to fill your desires. Look for the notably vegan eggplant tofu along the plant-based super greens mixed vegetables and chow mein. Some locations also offer a Beyond Meat version of the iconic orange chicken. Of course, include sides of rice and select from a range of sauces that are vegan too.
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