On The Road? Your Guide to Vegan Fast Food

Sep 14 2017 - 11:36am
Eating Vegan on The Road

Newly vegan and traveling this fall or winter for work or pleasure? Know that it is possible to maintain your diet with chain fast food and fast-casual restaurants. It just takes a little planning ahead.

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Most fast food restaurants are at the top of the list for being vegan-friendly. One look at the commercials and ads and you quickly see that the focus is on cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets!

Before traveling, you can plan ahead by packing a small cooler in your car filled with vegan goodies to snack on while driving. Most airlines are pretty cool these days about bringing food on board, especially since their food options have become much more limited in recent years due to cost.

But there are times when you will need to stop and find something to eat and fast food is all that is quickly available. So it is good to know that there are options! Keep in mind that it may be best to walk in and speak with a live person about your diet needs rather than speak through a squeaky drive-through speaker. But you probably need to get out and stretch your legs anyway!

Breakfast
Biscuits generally are out (butter) and most fast food locations today do offer oatmeal, but it typically also contains dairy. At McDonalds, you can order the maple and fruit oatmeal made with water instead of cream. Jack in the Box has a blueberry muffin oatmeal that is vegan.

Burger King has one surprising option that is accidentally vegan – the French Toast Sticks. Hashbrowns are also vegan at BK, Chic-Fil-A, Hardees, and Dunkin Donuts. Speaking of Dunkin Donuts, several bagel flavors are vegan as are the English Muffins.

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Also See: How You Can Eat Vegan Sandwiches at Subway

Starbucks is a good choice, as they have recently expanded their vegan offerings. Try the Classic (a blend of rolled and steel-cut oats with dried fruit and nuts) or Blueberry Oatmeal (blueberries and agave syrup). You can also get avocado spread for plain bagels in place of butter or cream cheese.

If you have the chance to sit down to eat, Denny’s offers the Fit Fare Veggie Skillet (ask for it without eggs), English Muffins, Bagels, Grits (ask for no butter), applesauce, and fresh fruit. At IHOP, order hashbrowns, grits and fresh fruit.

Fast Food Lunch
• Burger King added a veggie burger to their options, but unfortunately it is the Morningstar Farms brand that contains dairy and eggs. You can order a garden salad with a side of fries and apple slices or applesauce. And believe it or not, the Dutch Apple Pie is vegan!
• Chic-Fil-A obviously focuses on chicken, but you could ask for a salad without it. Or order Fries with a fruit cup or cinnamon applesauce.
• Taco Bell – there are many sides that are vegan, including the cinnamon twists, chips and guac or pico, cilantro rice, and black or refried beans. Also, if you order the Bean Burrito “fresco style” it will be vegan. The 7 layer burrito is vegetarian, but hold the cheese and sour cream to make it a 5-layer burrito and you are good to go.
• Del Taco - You can get the 8 Layer Veggie Burrito, the 1/2 lb. Bean & Cheese Burrito, or the Value Bean & Cheese Burrito with red or green sauce. Simply ask for no cheese, no rice and no sour cream.
• Quiznos – order the veggie sub without cheese and ask for balsamic vinaigrette instead of red-wine vinaigrette. Vegan bread options include white or wheat and herb wrap.
• Subway – the Veggie Delite on Italian Bread or Sourdough without cheese or mayo is a great option. Top your sub with oil, vinegar, mustard, deli mustard, sweet onion sauce or fat-free Italian dressing. Some locations now have vegan patties to make a heartier sub – check the menu board.
• Wendy’s – A garden side salad (without croutons – they contain dairy) and plain baked potato makes a really good meal. But you can also ask for a “veggie sandwich” (apparently there is already a button for it on the cash register) that includes everything that would be on the burger without meat (remember to make sure they don’t include cheese or mayo, though)
• Yes, McDonald’s is glaringly omitted from our vegan fast food list. But that didn’t stop the team at Very Vegan Recipes from creating their own sandwich out of vegan ingredients! Called the “McVeganstein” order a sesame seed bun with pickles, lettuce, mushroom, and tomatoes. Top with Southwestern Chipotle BBQ Sauce. And get a side of apple slices.

Fast-Casual Restaurants
• Au Bon Pain – offers several soups (Tuscan White Bean, Black Bean, and Curried Rice and Lentil are among the many options) plus vegetarian chili that are vegan.
• Chipotle has become more vegan friendly with the addition of sofritas – an organic tofu braised with peppers and spices. This can be ordered in place of meat in burritos, bowls, tacos and salads. The tortillas, fajita vegetables rice, beans, salsas, chips and guacamole are also vegan.
• Jason’s Deli – Vegan options here include organic vegetable soup, a spinach veggie wrap without cheese, and many options from the salad bar.
• Moe’s Southwest Grill – all tacos, fajitas, salads and burritos can be made vegan by substituting tofu for meat and skipping the cheese.
• Newk’s Eatery – Vegan dishes here include the Grilled Veggie Salad. You can of course customize a salad and use a vegan dressing such as balsamic vinaigrette, ginger wasabi, Greek Dressing and Sherry Vinaigrette.
• Noodles and Company – it has been called “heaven for vegans” because of the many choices including Chinese chop salad (without wontons), Indonesian Peanut saute, and Japanese pan noodles. Tofu can be added to any dish. Look for the “V” symbol on the menu!
• Olive Garden – here is the most happy surprise on this list – the Breadsticks are vegan. The “butter” topping is made with soy, not dairy. Vegan pasta in all shapes with marinara makes a hearty meal. And the minestrone is now dairy free.
• Qdoba Mexican Grill – make a burrito, taco or salad bowl with corn or flour tortillas, black or pinto beans, brown or cilantro-lime rice, fajita vegetables, grilled vegetables, potatoes, guacamole and most salsas. The tortilla soup is also vegan.
• TGI Fridays – I had one of my best experiences at a TGI Fridays; the waiter was super helpful when it came to veganizing a salad. They also have a black bean and avocado burger (hold mayo and cheese); you can try the Jack Daniel’s and BBQ sauce instead!
• Panera Bread: The Vegetarian Black Bean Soup is vegan. Other vegetarian soups may have dairy or honey so be sure to check the ingredients. Have your soup with some ciabatta bread on the side.

Pizza
Take-out or Delivery on the meal plan for tonight? No problem. Many of the most popular chains have a vegan option for you (just hold the cheese!).
• Domino’s: The Thin Crust is Vegan (the gluten free contains honey, btw). Top it with Original Pizza Sauce and your choice of fresh veggies.
• Cici’s Pizza: The Pizza crust and sauce are vegan.
• Little Caesars: They do offer a veggie cheese-less pizza plus the crazy bread and crazy sauce can be made vegan.
• Papa John’s: The original dough is vegan, the thin crust is not. The sauce is also vegan.
• Pizza Hut: The thin N Crispy and Dessert crusts are vegan. The all natural old World and Sweet pizza sauces are as well.

Resources:
One Green Planet
PETA.org
Very Vegan Recipes

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