Breadsticks. They seem innocent enough, but to many people’s despair, it’s a challenge to find breadsticks that aren’t coated in butter or made with milk. And that is why we choose Olive Garden. The lusciously plump and never-ending basket of breadsticks can be ordered vegan, along with an assortment of other tasty items that extend beyond a simple salad.

How to order vegan at Olive Garden

The Olive Garden website handily features a landing page dedicated to vegan and vegetarian customers. The information is comprehensive and assuring. It promises diligent food handling to avoid cross-contamination of animal ingredients, a sneak peek into vegan as-is items, and a promise of above-and-beyond accommodations when requested.

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Keep this tip in mind: many items can be veganized if you ask to replace the meat and cheese with extra pasta or fresh vegetables. This trick is particularly useful if you want to try any of the limited-time specials. 

Vegan at Olive Garden

The next time you’re dining at this Italian-inspired chain, check out these menu items for a plant-based feast. 

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1 Breadsticks

As we mentioned earlier, at Olive Garden, it’s all about the piping-hot breadsticks. These fluffy, garlic-topped appetizers are vegan—no modifications necessary. The marinara dipping sauce is also animal-free. 

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2 Soup and salads

While known for its pasta-heavy mains, Olive Garden’s soup, salad, and breadsticks combo easily works as a satisfactory meal. Opt for the vegan-friendly minestrone soup and pair it with the Famous House Salad. The salad is vegan when ordered without croutons or Italian dressing—just substitute it for olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

3 Sides

Why not indulge your love of carbs by ordering a side of French fries? At Olive Garden, this simple side is totally vegan (you’d be surprised how many times this isn’t the case). To add some more nutrient-dense heft to your plate of pasta, you can also ask for some seasoned broccoli on the side. The kitchen typically also has asparagus, tomatoes, eggplant, and mushrooms on hand. 

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4 Create your own pasta

This section gives vegans free rein. The restaurant uses dried pasta not fresh, which means you don’t have to be wary about any hidden egg ingredients. Vegan-friendly pasta shapes include spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccine, small shells, and rigatoni (note: the gluten-free rigatoni contains eggs). Top your favorite noodles with marinara or tomato sauce.

5 Dessert

Like The Cheesecake Factory, Olive Garden has yet to veganize any of its tantalizing dessert options. While we wait for a plant-based version of the warm Italian doughnuts, tiramisu, and chocolate brownie lasagna, we’ll seek something sweet elsewhere.

For more tips on dining out as a vegan, read:
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