The stress of deciding what to get at a non-vegan restaurant is a feeling every vegan knows all too well. This anxiety becomes even higher when ordering at fast-food restaurants, and while many offer extensive menus, plant-based options can seem abysmally slim. Because of this, vegans often avoid these eateries, but sometimes fast food is the only choice when we’re running late to a meeting or on a road trip where the only restaurants are the kinds of places lit up in neon. Fortunately, your local drive-thru is more vegan-friendly than you might assume. From McDonald’s and Taco Bell to Dunkin’ Donuts and KFC, almost every last-resort, fast-food restaurant has its own assortment of options for vegan customers.
The fast-food chain known for providing cheap chicken dinners to carnivorous families is also home to plenty of vegan-friendly meal options by way of their various sides. Green beans, seasoned potato wedges, and whole kernel corn are all vegan, as is the house side salad. Put them all together and you have yourself a vegan meal. And if you’re hankering for something sweet, the apple turnover is dairy-free!
If you’re craving spicy food, say “hola” to Taco Bell, which has a dedicated vegan-certified menu featuring black beans and rice; pintos and red sauce; the 7-layer burrito (sans cheese and sour cream); the cantina power bowl or cantina burrito; and the spicy tostada. For added flavor, select from additional veggie-based toppings and sides such as salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo.
Customize a McWrap with onions, pickle slices, shredded lettuce, tomato, and substitute the Big Mac sauce for vinaigrette sauce (our favorite is Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette). And don’t forget to throw in some baby kale or spinach, a side of apple slices, tangerines, or a salad for extra nourishment.
Vegans can pick between a garden salad or Asian cashew salad with Marzetti Italian Vinaigrette or Marzetti Simply Dressed Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette. However, the Asian cashew salad toppings, sprinkled with fire-roasted edamame and spicy roasted cashews, is our go-to because it pairs perfectly with a chive baked potato to get your total fill of carbs. Add Honest’s Tropical Green Tea, made with organic and fair-trade green tea leaves.
Vegans can “have it their way” with items such as French toast sticks or a sesame seed bun with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles with a side of ketchup or mustard (hold the mayo). French fries are always an option, which can be washed down with a Capri-Sun apple juice.
Indulge in guilt-free breakfast GrandDDe Burritos (any time of day) stuffed with beans, rice, corn, and fire-roasted peppers and onions for a Southwest flavor—but remember to hold the eggs. Add crispy hash browns in case you’re still hungry after your Tex-Mex kick. Sadly, Dunkin’ doughnuts still aren’t vegan.
Domino’s delivers thin crust pizza topped with spinach, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, onions, black olives, sweet pineapple, banana peppers, diced tomatoes, and vegan pizza sauce. Choose dairy-free dipping sauces such as the marinara, sweet mango habanero, or sweet icing to pair perfectly with your pie.
Subway makes a dairy-free Veggie Delite sandwich on five vegan-friendly breads including 9-Grain Wheat, Hearty Italian, Italian (white), and Sourdough. Pile on the veggies, or hold the bread and make it a salad with vinaigrette or sweet onion sauce and a scoop of avocado. For a non-GMO, gluten-free treat, order a bag of Simply Lay’s Sea Salted Thick Cut Potato Chips made in sunflower oil.
Christa Bramante is an earth-loving herbivore who animals adore.
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