9 vegan hacks for your favorite fast food restaurants

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Whether you need to eat in a hurry, have screaming kids in the back seat, or just have cravings, fast food does the job. Now that vegan products have been incorporated into so many chains, it’s easy to pop by almost any drive-thru window and find something to fill you up. Don’t wait any longer to browse the menu—rely on this guide to order with confidence at nine of your favorite fast food restaurants across the US.

But first, let’s take a look at what vegan fast food actually is and the benefits of choosing plant-based foods the next time you order a quick takeout feast.

What is vegan fast food?

Meat and dairy have dominated fast food menus for decades. With the ecxeption of fries and lemonade, pretty much everything else has always contained animal products. (In some places, like McDonald’s, even the fries aren’t vegan.)

But lately that has all changed. Fast-food chains like Burger King, KFC, and White Castle have partnered with plant-based meat brands to create new vegan fast-food options. These items are very similar to their meaty counterparts, only the meaty patties or chicken strips are made with plant-based meat instead of regular meat.

But meat alternatives are not essential. You can also get options like salad bowls, burritos, or tacos, all of which still qualify as fast food but may only have plant-based ingredients like beans and other veggies.

Is vegan fast food healthy?

How healthy your vegan fast food dish is depends on the ingredients. For example, a burrito bowl filled with beans and veggies is always far more nutritious than a burger and fries. But if you eat the latter, you probably don’t choose it for health reasons, and that’s more than fine (after all, not every meal is about health).

Even so, a vegan burger with fries is probably still better for you than its animal counterpart. Processed meat is associated with a higher risk of heart diseaseand it has been classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

On the other hand, research has shown that plant-based meat is healthier for us and the planet. one review The study, published earlier this year, examined 43 studies on plant-based foods and concluded that they were better than their animal-based counterparts in terms of human health and the environment.

Where can you get vegan fast food?

While progress still needs to be made (McDonald’s lags behind in the US in terms of plant-based options), the vegan fast-food market is growing.

According to one reportit could even be worth more than $40 billion by 2028. That means it’s easier than ever to find vegan options at the country’s most popular fast food joints.

If you’ve got cravings to satisfy, we’ve rounded up our top hacks for ordering vegan at fast food joints everywhere from Del Taco to Aunt Anne’s Pretzels.

del taco

1 del taco

No changes required; Del Taco has partnered with Beyond Meat to create a special vegetarian and vegan menu. The new 1-pound Epic Beyond Fresh Guacamole Burrito is vegan as is, along with the Beyond Guacamole Taco. Both feature seasoned Beyond Beef Crumbles accompanied by a choice of fillings including cilantro lime rice, fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa and seasoned black beans. The Beyond Taco is also vegan if you order it without cheese. The Crinkle Cut Fries, Hash Brown Sticks and Veggie Bowl are also vegan approved.
Learn more here

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2 Aunt Anne’s pretzels

Little-Known Vegan Fast Food Facts: Aunt Anne’s Original, Cinnamon Sugar, Sweet Almond, Jalapeño, and Raisin Pretzels can be veganized by ordering them without butter. This process takes an extra five minutes, but it’s worth it for a hot, fluffy pretzel from the mall.
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3 Burger King

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Burger King has the vegan options covered. In the morning, opt for the French Toast Sticks, served warm with a side of maple syrup. During the day, quell your burger cravings with the Impossible Whopper (ask for mayo) and a side of fries, then polish off those candy cravings with Mott’s Applesauce. For a comprehensive overview of BK’s menu, see our Vegan Guide to Plant-Based Eating at Burger King.
Learn more here

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4 Carls Jr.

Get your famous star fix with the Beyond Famous Star burger made with Beyond meat. Ask for mayo or cheese and you’re set. Another handy hack: customization. Order a plain hamburger with a Beyond Meat patty, then add your choice of toppings: raw onions, ketchup, mustard, pickles, barbecue sauce, jalapeños, tomatoes, and lettuce are all fair game. Accompany the sandwich with a crunchy side of fried potatoes — the fries, crisscut fries, and hash rounds are all vegan. Unfortunately, this vegan-friendly option has been discontinued at locations in the South and Midwest where the chain is known as Hardee’s.
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5 Chipotle Mexican Grill

There are tons of build-your-own options with Chipotle’s offerings! You can customize your own bowl, burrito, salad or tacos with a plethora of vegan ingredients — including beans, lettuce, cilantro-lime rice, veggie fajitas and the popular sofritas — the chain’s signature flavorful braised tofu. When in doubt, count on Chipotle and keep ours vegan guide to chipotle handy when you open your mobile ordering app.
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6 Bareburger

This chain has seriously stepped up its vegan game in recent years. What started as a partnership between Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods evolved into a fully fledged vegan menu – complete with vegan cheese, plant-based buns, non-dairy milkshakes, and vegan fish rolls. The menu includes sandwiches and sides, nuggets, and even kids’ meals and carrot cake. The hardest part about ordering from a bareburger isn’t finding something to eat, it’s deciding how much will fit in your stomach.
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7 dog house

Best known for their hot dogs, this chain offers a selection of plant-based fast food favorites. Choose between an Impossible Burger (keep the cheese and secret sauce), Beyond Brat, Impossible Slider (ask for No Mayo and skip the cheese), and Sooo Veggie Dog. When ordered on a French bun or wrapped in lettuce, these options are perfectly vegan-friendly. To keep things fair, the chain also carries Beyond and Impossible chicken nuggets, available on the side or stuffed in a sandwich. Dog Haus’s tots, sweet potato fries, and regular fries are also fair game.
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8th Tacobell

Like its competitor Del Taco, this Mexican fast-food chain jumped on the vegan bandwagon early on. While the chain is currently being tested vegan protein options in Alabama, Taco Bell offers a fairly extensive vegetarian menu that’s easily veganized. Until Bell’s vegan protein test launches nationwide, just use the magic words: “Fresco style.” This set replaces cheese, ranch sauce, sour cream, and essentially all dairy-based condiments with fresh pico de gallo. Add potatoes to personalize other veggie favorites including Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme, Power Menu Bowl Veggie, and Easy Beans and Rice Bowl. No matter what you order, be sure to get a side of accidentally vegan Cinnamon Twists for dessert. If in doubt, read ours Guide to ordering vegan at Taco Bell.
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9 white lock

Harold and Kumar praise White Castle’s vegan sliders made with the Impossible Burger. Order these bite-sized beauties plain or with a sweet Thai sauce, but hold back on the cheese. The chain started testing vegan cheese options Use of GOOD PLANeT cheese in March 2020, but only in select markets for a trial period. Complete your order with a side of fries.
Learn more here

For even more vegan fast food read:

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