Not so long ago, fast food restaurants were almost totally unaccommodating to vegans. But as interest in plant-based diets took hold in 2018 through 2020, and well-funded startups introduced a new generation of vegan meat offerings, fast food chains have been racing each other to add vegan options to their menus.
Here’s our list of vegan menu items currently offered by America’s top fast food restaurants. The restaurants with the most stores and the best options are closer to the top of the list.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
At many fast food restaurants, your vegan options feel pretty restrictive. But that’s certainly not the case at Chipotle.
Pretty much everything on the menu that’s not meat, cheese, or sour cream is vegan. That includes their tortillas, both types of rice, both types of beans, their superb guacamole, and their salsas and hot sauces. Their spicy meaty tofu-based Sofritas is vegan too.
Recommended item: bean and rice burrito with fajita vegetables (grilled peppers), salsa, and either guacamole or sofritas (grilled shredded spiced tofu).
Given that the majority of their ingredients are vegan, there are any number of dishes that can be vegan. Anytime you order something al-fresco they’ll leave off the cheese and/or sour cream and replace it with their pretty good chunky vegan salsa.
Recommended item: a bean burrito ordered al-fresco style.
The Impossible Burger is vegan if ordered without mayo. If you don’t want the burger grilled on the same surface that cooks meat, you can ask them to microwave your pattie.
Recommended item: Impossible Burger without mayo. Ask them to microwave the burger if you don’t want it cooked on the grill.
One irritation of eating at Mexican restaurants is that meat, cheese, and sour cream are the most expensive ingredients, and yet vegans seldom get a discount when they order a burrito without animal products. Unlike other Mexican chains, Qdoba actually reduces the price on its meatless meals by around 60 cents.
It’s easy to eat vegan at Qdoba since all beans, rice varieties, and salsas are vegan. Their guacamole is vegan too.
Recommended item: Vegan fajita bowl.
Unlike many fast food Mexican restaurants, Del Taco offers Beyond Meat. And like Taco Bell, they maintain a helpful page of vegan and vegetarian menu items.
Recommended item: Beyond Avocado Taco
In January of 2020, Denny’s replaced their mediocre vegan bean burger with delicious vegan Beyond Burgers at all USA and Canada restaurants.
Denny’s also serves a number of other vegan foods, plus coffee and juices. If you’re there for breakfast, the oatmeal is vegan.
Recommended item: Veggie Burger (Beyond Burger) on a Brioche bun. Numerous veggie toppings are available. Specify no cheese, butter, or mayo.
For decades, Dunkin’ was one of the least vegan-friendly chains in existence, although they’ve always been famous for their excellent coffee. But in 2019 they introduce Beyond Meat Sausage at all USA locations.
Recommended item: Beyond Breakfast Sausage on an English muffin without egg or cheese.
White Castle is famous for mini-hamburgers it calls “Sliders,” that it has been serving up since 1921. In 2018, the chain introduced “Impossible Sliders.” Order it without the smoked cheddar and it’s vegan.
Recommended Item: Impossible Slider without Cheese
While Starbucks has a checkered past, involving rolling out vegan food options only to discontinue them, they’re promising a vegan meat sandwich in 2020. So keep your eye out for that. We’ll update this page when it’s released.
If you walk into a Panera, you’ll have trouble finding vegan items on the menu, since the offerings are dominated by meat-based sandwiches. Fortunately, there are several vegan items available. Unlike most chain restaurants, Panera maintains this list of their vegan offerings.
Recommended items: Ten Vegetable Soup, Mediterranean Veggie sandwich on country Rustic Bread without cheese or mayo.
They’ve tested a bunch of vegan meats over the years, but nothing is firmly established in the USA yet. Their whole wheat breads annoyingly contain honey. But in early 2020, exclusively in the UK for now, Subway rolled out a Meatless Meatball Marinara Melt featuring Beyond Meat and vegan cheese!
(Reluctantly) Recommended item: Veggie Delight, without cheese or mayo
None of the burger offerings at Five Guys are vegan (and the buns aren’t vegan either), but their French fries are worth a special shout-out. Why? Because they’re thick-cut whole potatoes fried in peanut oil, which is a super-premium frying method. What’s more, the only thing fried in the oil is potatoes (not chicken or seafood), so the gross-out factor is zero.
If you like your French fries more flavorful, order the Cajun spiced version—they’re vegan too! Note that servings are massive, so if you’re by yourself a small order will be plenty even if you’re hungry.
Ice Cream Shops
The big three ice cream shops in the United States (Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s, and Haagen-Dazs) all carry vegan flavors. And you can also buy Dairy-Free (vegan) pints of Ben & Jerry’s and Haggen Dazs at most supermarkets.
Every store offers two or three vegan flavors. At last notice, these were the Vegan Coffee Caramel Chunk, Non-Dairy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Non-Dairy Chocolate Extreme
Ben & Jerry’s
As with Baskin-Robbins, every Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor will stock at least a couple vegan flavors. Ben & Jerry’s rolls out new flavors much more frequently than other brands, so expect to encounter new vegan ice cream options regularly.
Many Haagan-Dazs parlors in the United States carry vegan ice cream. However, these stores are under no obligation to offer vegan ice cream flavors, because they’re independent franchises. If your local Haagan-Dazs doesn’t carry vegan ice cream, chances are they’ll still offer one or two flavors of vegan sorbet.