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Healthy eating

The best vegan fast-food options at KFC, Taco Bell, Burger King and more

More vegan fast-food options are cropping up all the time.

vegan-fast-food-options-chowhound

Taco Bell has a fair number of vegan options.

Taco Bell

These are some of the best vegan fast-food options (as well as fast-casual chain vegan choices) that you can get -- with more popping up all the time.

As a vegan, eating out in a restaurant can be an adventure. If the restaurant isn't plant-based, you sometimes have to search extra-hard to find something that's equal parts cruelty-free and delicious. But when you do, it's like you've struck gold.

Yes, Burger King is now serving plant-based Impossible Whoppers, and even KFC is testing meatless fried chicken (which sold out in a matter of hours recently, proving people really want these meat-free alternatives), but it's not always as easy as that -- and be aware, while these "vegan" options may be totally plant-based, they're often cooked on the same equipment used for conventional beef and chicken. Most vegans and strict vegetarians therefore won't find them acceptable options -- but if you're simply trying to cut back on animal products, they're still a good way to go.

Read more: Easy ways to eat a more plant-based diet

Beyond ever-more-trendy fake meat substitutes, -- which some, including the CEO of Whole Foods, say are not actually all that healthy (because, while meatless, they're still processed foods) -- most American fast-food joints and casual sit-down restaurants have something to eat for us herbivores. And that doesn't just mean fruit salad! It may take a little sleuthing beforehand, but as vegan eating becomes a bigger trend, more places are catering to plant-based diners.

Check out what vegan dishes are served at some of the most popular American fast-food and fast-casual chains below.

Chipotle

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Chipotle is vegan heaven. You can order pretty much anything (excluding the meat, cheese and sour cream, obviously) and you'll be 100% satisfied eating alongside your omnivore friends. (They also have new-ish options for paleo and keto eaters, too.) Try some of these:

  • Burrito or tacos with sofritas, brown rice, black beans, mild tomato salsa, guacamole and lettuce
  • Salad (no dressing) with fajita vegetables, pinto beans, corn salsa, spicy salsa, extra lettuce and guacamole
  • Chips and guacamole

See the full allergen & special diet menu.

KFC

As mentioned above, KFC has recently tested Beyond Meat's vegan chicken, but whether it will eventually become a common menu item remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, check out these vegan fried chicken recipe options to make at home. 

Burger King

Meanwhile, Burger King is now offering Impossible Whoppers nationwide -- but as we noted, there's no guarantee it won't be cross-contaminated with actual traces of meat from the cooking equipment (which is pretty much true of any restaurant that's not 100% animal-free). Beyond that, BK has some other vegan options:

  • Fries (since they're cooked in veggie oil)
  • Hash browns
  • Garden salad (sans cheese)
  • French toast sticks
  • Apple pie

(Worth noting for other fast food burger chains: neither Wendy's nor McDonald's offer veggie burgers -- yet -- but the fries and baked potatoes at Wendy's are vegan and side salads without cheese or meat are fair game at either place.)

Taco Bell

Of the more traditional fast-food joints, Taco Bell ranks high for vegan-friendly eats. You'll have plenty to choose from, including a tasty dessert:

  • Hash browns
  • Cinnamon twists
  • Fresco bean burrito
  • Crunchwrap with black beans (no beef, sour cream or cheese)
  • 7-Layer burrito, fresco style
  • Veggie power burrito with guacamole (no cheese, sour cream or avocado ranch sauce)
  • Tostada with guacamole (no cheese)
  • Taco Salad with beans (no beef, sour cream or cheese)
  • Black beans & rice
  • Chips and guacamole or salsa* (*only until Sept. 12, when chips and salsa are being removed from the menu)

See more vegan options.

Subway

Historically, there hasn't been too much a vegan eater could get at Subway, unless you just wanted to fill up on bread and veggies (honestly, that doesn't sound too bad, but you might want to bring your own vegan mayonnaise to liven things up). But as of Sept. 5, 2019, you can get Beyond Meat meatball subs at select locations for a limited time (and we wouldn't be surprised if they end up on the permanent menu). If they're not serving them at a location near you, you can still enjoy these options:

  • Veggie Delite sandwich
  • Veggie Delite Salad
  • Black bean soup

Read more allergen and special diet info.

The Cheesecake Factory

While The Cheesecake Factory boasts more than 250 items on its menu, there are not too many vegan options for plant-based folks to choose from. However, any of these are a safe bet to order:

  • Vegan Cobb salad
  • Skinnylicious Asian Chicken salad (sans chicken)
  • Skinnylicious Pear and Endive salad (sans chicken or cheese)
  • Thai Lettuce Wraps (sans chicken)
  • Any pasta with marinara sauce or roasted tomato sauce

See the full menu.

Seasons 52

With an entire vegan menu of 12 options, there's no way you'll feel left out ordering at Seasons 52. Here are just some of the options:

  • Roasted roma tomato flatbread
  • Blistered shishito peppers
  • Spinach and caramelized Bosc pear salad
  • Vegetarian tasting: wood-grilled kohlrabi steak, vegan paella, asparagus, fennel-roasted onion
  • Vegetables and pasta: sauteed with garlic and tomato-basil sauce

See the full vegan menu.

Olive Garden

While Olive Garden's menu isn't the most vegan-friendly, you'll be able to find an entree here too:

  • Bruschetta Caprese (no cheese)
  • Breadsticks with marinara sauce
  • Minestrone soup
  • Spaghetti with marinara sauce

See more vegan menu info.

Starbucks

As its food menu expands, Starbucks provides more and more for vegans. My favorite breakfast is the bagel with avocado spread and a banana on the side. Plus, most drinks can be made vegan by adding either almond or soy milk instead of dairy. Try:

  • Hearty blueberry oatmeal with agave syrup, nuts and fresh blueberries
  • Sprouted grain vegan bagel with avocado spread
  • Hearty veggie & brown rice salad bowl
  • Seasonal fruit blend

Full menu here.

oat-milk-latte-4

Most of Starbucks' drinks can be made vegan by picking a nondairy milk -- this latte is made with oat milk.

Starbucks

Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain has plant-friendly options galore, particularly with its handful of fresh soup options:

  • Vegetarian chili
  • Barley and creamy lentil soup
  • Tuscan white bean soup
  • Curried rice and lentil soup
  • 12 veggie soup
  • French Moroccan tomato lentil soup

Full menu here.

Domino's Pizza

For a pizza place that doesn't specialize in vegan pies, Domino's has got the hookup. You can opt for a vegan crust, then feel free to load up your pizza with as much original sauce and veggies as your heart desires. You can get:

  • Thin crust pizza with original pizza sauce and vegetables of your choice
  • Garden salad (no cheese) with balsamic or Italian dressing

And maybe add your own vegan cheese at home?

Full menu here.

PF Chang's

With four entree dishes that can be easily made vegan, PF Chang's makes sure to make its plant-based guests feel right at home:

  • Ma po tofu*
  • Buddha's feast*
  • Stir-fried eggplant*
  • Coconut curry vegetables*

*Ask to be made vegan. Full vegetarian menu here.

California Pizza Kitchen

For vegan folks, California Pizza Kitchen has plenty. From apps to entrees, eating vegan at CPK will be no problem. Try:

  • Tuscan hummus
  • White corn guacamole with chips
  • Asparagus and arugula salad (no parmesan)
  • Shaved mushroom and spinach flatbread (no parmesan)
  • Dakota smashed pea and barley soup
  • Grilled veggie sandwich (sans cheese)
  • California veggie pizza (sans cheese)
  • Roasted artichoke and spinach pizza
  • Asparagus and spinach spaghettini (no parmesan)

Ironically, the cauliflower crust at CPK is not vegan, but all others are.

See the full vegan and vegetarian menu.

Denny's

You might not associate a fair number of vegan options with the place that brought the world "Moons Over My Hammy", but you can opt for a number of veganized skillets, oatmeal or hash browns for a tasty, plant-based breakfast:

  • Fit Fare Veggie Skillet (sans egg whites)
  • Sante Fe Skillet (sans eggs, chorizo or cheese)
  • Supreme Skillet (sans eggs, sausage or cheese)
  • Veggie Burger with brioche or whole-wheat bun with grilled onions, avocado, barbecue sauce, jalapenos and sauteed mushrooms
  • Oatmeal with water (sans milk)
  • Hash browns
  • English muffin (regular, not gluten-free)

Full menu can be found here.

This story was written by Elana Rubin and originally posted on Chowhound.