The 14 Best Plant-Based Options At Popular Fast Food Chains

A new wave of vegan and vegetarian eating is coming to town, and foodies and chefs alike are here for it. Consumers are desperate for vegetables, meat replacers, fruit, and plant-based options. Restaurants and food producers around the world are taking note and are trying to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. Luckily, even your favorite fast-food joints are hopping on the trend all around the world. Even some entirely vegan fast food chains are beginning to pop up, but until they gain more momentum, there are quite a few plant-based options at popular fast food chains available and accessible now.

A decade ago, it would have been impossible to find a vegan fast food option beyond a plain baked potato or order of fries, but today, some chains have several plant-based options to choose from. A top tip for being vegan in 2023 is to jot down these menu items to keep in your car in case of a hunger-induced emergency. Keep in mind that many restaurants don't label their dishes as vegan because of cross-contamination with meat, but they are made entirely with plant-based ingredients. So if you don't mind a shared deep fryer or grill, hop in your car, make your way to your favorite fast food joint, and enjoy some plant-based food on the go.

Taco Bell Black Bean Crunch Wrap Supreme

Taco Bell has perhaps one of the largest selections of plant-based options when it comes to the drive-thru genre. Mexican food tends to be vegan-friendly, so it's no surprise that Taco Bell is a reliable target for plant-based fast food options. Taco Bell's Black Bean Crunch Wrap Supreme is a delicious menu item for meat eaters and vegans alike because it's filling, delirious, and contains a variety of ingredients wrapped up into one crunchy pocket of flavor. Simply modify the order by swapping the nacho cheese and sour cream for guacamole.

In addition, ask about making similar modifications to the black bean burrito and black bean tacos. Load up on guacamole, jalapeños, tomatoes, and even potatoes, which can be added to any dish. Finish your meal with Taco Bell Cinnamon Twists. Although it does not guarantee that cross-contamination won't take place, that's likely true of most restaurants you'd go to.

Burger King's Impossible Whopper

While many fast food burger joints have struggled to keep plant-based options on the menu, Burger King has been a frontrunner since 2002 when it introduced its first vegetarian burger. Since then, it has teamed up with Impossible Meat to make a plant-based burger that tastes like the real thing. And it hasn't stopped there. In the U.K., Burger King has opened its first fully vegan location, and it's been a huge hit (when can we get one in the U.S.?). Next time you swing by a Burger King, be sure to order the Impossible Whopper but omit the cheese and mayonnaise. If you are worried about your patty being cooked on the grill with meat burgers, you can ask the worker to microwave it, but they still cannot fully promise that there has been no cross-contamination.

Order your burger with fries, as, unlike many competitors, the burger place uses entirely vegetable-based oil in the fryers. If the demand is high enough, maybe one day, Burger King will bring its fully plant-based menu to the United States. Until then, we are thankful for the Impossible Whopper and fries, and for Burger King for leading the way when it comes to plant-based options at fast food restaurants.

White Castle's Impossible Sliders

Time for a trip to White Castle. Meat lovers aren't the only ones who get to indulge in White Castles's famous sliders. Now, vegetarians and vegans everywhere are flocking to the chain to experience these plant-based mini burgers.

The Ohio burger chain is known for its beef sliders and has broadened its horizons to include an Impossible Slider option. Although the flavor varies slightly from the beef original, it's just as crave-worthy and delicious. These little sliders can easily go from vegetarian to vegan by simply requesting the cheese to be removed. Enjoy that classic pickle crunch, along with the soy and potato protein-based patty. Although the company can't assure that there has been no cross-contamination, the folks there do use a separate grill for the plant-based options, according to the website, which isn't a common practice. If you're lucky enough to live near one of the locations, enjoy your sliders alongside an order of fries, which are also vegan-friendly.

Dunkin's Hummus and Avocado toast

When Dunkin' introduced its plant-based milk options, vegans and lactose-intolerant folks everywhere went wild. Finally, the brand followed suit with its competitors, and although there is currently an additional upcharge for non-dairy milk, it's worth the extra pocket change. Dunkin' tested out a plant-based sausage breakfast sandwich that was discontinued, but now provides hummus and avocado toast options that are popular among vegans and meat-eaters alike.

Its avocado spread is made with four simple ingredients; avocado, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Spread thickly onto sourdough toast, the option is a healthy alternative for folk looking to lower their cholesterol or move away from the bacon craze. The hummus toast, in the same vein, is made with simple ingredients and is topped with roasted tomatoes. Enjoy your loaded Dunkin' toast with a side of hash browns, and don't forget to enjoy the absolute best sugar-free Dunkin drink with either almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.

Chipotle's Sofritas Bowl

This build-your-own burrito Mexican food chain has become a holy grail for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free folks everywhere looking to get a quick, compliant meal. With plenty of vegetarian options including both black and pinto beans, Chipotle is always a safe bet. The toppings are endless and include rice, grilled vegetables, fresh corn salsa, pico de gallo, salsa, and lettuce. The best part? If you go full veggie mode with your tacos, burrito, burrito bowl, or lifestyle bowl, then guacamole isn't extra. For those looking for a meat alternative that tastes pretty darn close to the real thing, consider making sofritas the base of your meal.

Sofritas is a tofu-based crumble, spiced to perfection. It's gluten-free and can be a fantastic meat replacer for those looking for a hearty, flavorful, vegan-friendly option to replace meat. Order ahead through the app and pick up in-store for a quick, on-the-go meal-filling option that rivals most drive-through meals. If you have a few extra minutes, consider ordering and dining in the restaurant for a sit-down experience.

Starbucks Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box

Starbucks has been a front-runner in the dairy-free department, carrying a soy milk option for its coffee since 1997. Today, the brand offers a variety of plant-milk alternatives, including the addition of almond, oat, and coconut milk. In fact, some of the featured drinks are made with by default dairy-free alternatives, although the company does continue to up-charge the replacement of dairy milk on the standard menu. Beyond beverages, when it comes to satiating one's hunger, look no further than the Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box.

This snack box is loaded with falafel-style chickpea bites, snap peas, mini carrots, avocado spread, and a dry mix of cranberries, pepitas, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Although not considered a full meal, it's loaded with plant protein and fiber so it can certainly carry you over until you sit down for dinner, especially when paired with a latte. This is the perfect option for those seeking a vegan snack on the go. And there's no cross-contamination to worry about here, just clean, delicious vegan food, packaged and ready to eat.

Panera Mediterranean Bowl

Although Panera is famous for its baked goods, sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese, there are plenty of plant-based options on the menu to choose from — if you don't mind making a few modifications. Our favorite is the Mediterranean Bowl loaded with cilantro lime brown rice and quinoa, arugula, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, cucumbers, hummus, lemon tahini dressing, feta, and Greek yogurt. Simply request your bowl to be made without the feta and yogurt, and boom-bada-boom, there's a healthy, filling vegan meal at your fingertips.

Although Panera cannot guarantee that there has been no cross-contamination, this is a pretty safe bet when it comes to dining out as a vegan. The lemon tahini dressing is so creamy-smooth that you won't miss the yogurt or cheese, but feel free to ask your server to go heavy on the dressings to make up for the lost flavor of the dairy products. Several sandwiches and salads can also be modified to be vegan, so check out the menu and chat with your server about which options work best for your diet.

Peet's Coffee Plant-Based Sandwich

Many fast food chains are slapping on plant-based patties to not-so-plant-based sandwiches loaded with cheese and mayonnaise-based sauces. This is certainly a step in the right direction and a huge win for vegetarians, but not so much for vegans. However, after modifying such a burger to be fully vegan or plant-based, you could be left with buns, a patty, and a few limp vegetables. Peet's Coffee understood the assignment and made a fully vegan Everything Plant-Based Sandwich equipped with vegan seasoned Beyond Breakfast Sausage, vegan cheddar cheese, and JUST Egg, all loaded up on an everything bagel.

Peet's Coffee also carries plant-based milk and a few featured seasonal dairy-free specialty drinks. Look for a chain near you to load up on food and drink, and no substitutions are required (for once!). Although the coffee chain isn't as popular as Dunkin' or Starbucks, it certainly takes the cake when it comes to plant-based breakfast food on the go.

Carl's Jr. Beyond Famous Star Burger

Carls's Jr. has followed suit in the plant-based Beyond Burger movement and created a vegetarian charbroiled version of its classic burger with a plant-based meat alternative. The Beyond Famous Star Burger is loaded to the brim with sauces and toppings and can be made vegan with just two simple modifications. The burger features a Beyond Burger patty, lettuce, tomato, sliced onion, dill pickles, Special Sauce, mayonnaise, and melted cheese on a sesame bun. Simply request your burger without the mayonnaise or cheese, but don't worry, the Special Sauce is vegan-friendly.

While the vegan-friendly offerings at Carl's Jr. are not certified vegan and are made in the same facilities as meat, the modified Beyond Famous Star Burger is made with plant-based ingredients and is a safe bet if you don't mind a little cross-contamination, which comes with the territory when eating out anyway. Order your burger with fries, which luckily are also vegan-friendly.

Cold Stone Creamery Silk Almondmilk Frozen Dessert

Vegans feel lucky enough when they can throw together a few side dishes at a restaurant and call it a meal. Dessert is usually off the table, and most plant-based eaters have come to accept it. Even in this new era of vegan and vegetarian cooking, those with a sweet tooth often find themselves deprived or disappointed when it comes to fast food — until now. Vegans with a sweet tooth, it's time to rejoice. Finally, there's a plant-based option at Cold Stone Creamery, and it's quite the decadent dessert.

Cold Stone Creamy uses a Silk Almondmilk Frozen Dessert that's to die for. Try the Don't Cry Over Spilled Silk Creation, complete with the creamy chocolate frozen dairy-free ice cream, banana, peanut butter, and roasted almonds. If you prefer to drink your dessert, consider the Chocolate Silk Shake, which consists of a frozen dessert blended with Silk almond milk. Use the Silk Almondmilk Frozen Dessert mixed on that famous Cold Stone with other vegan toppings like fruit and nuts. But be wary, foods like sprinkles and certain brands of peanuts fall into the category of foods that seem vegan but aren't.

Del Taco Guacamole Burrito

Del Taco knows what it's doing when it comes to vegan dining. For those who live in California or one of the regions that host the Mexican fast food restaurant, then you're in luck. Sorry, New Englanders. Because Mexican food is one of those cuisines that is notably vegan-friendly, it's not much of a stretch for the chain to create several plant-based menu options, but we are always thankful anyway. For those looking for traditional meat flavors, check out Del Taco's Beyond 8-Layer Burrito, or one of the Beyond Meat Taco Toppings. Our favorite, however, is the Epic Beyond Fresh Guacamole Burrito, equipped with 43 grams of plant-based protein.

This loaded burrito contains seasoned Beyond Meat plant-based crumbles, slow cooker beans from scratch, cilantro lime rice, fresh house-made guacamole, and pico de gallo, all bundled together in a warm oversized flour tortilla. We have to say, this is one of those unforgettable fast food options that will have you coming back for more. Enjoy with crinkle-cut fries or hashbrown sticks. Del Taco is so committed to making vegan and vegetarian eating a breeze that it has created a whole separate plant-based menu on its website to help customers navigate options by their diet.

Qdoba Impossible Meat Burrito

We love Qdoba because within their walls, guacamole never costs extra. While black beans have always been a healthy and vegan option at Mexican restaurants Qdoba has introduced a meat alternative. Impossible meat crumbles can be used as a plant-based protein option in any menu item. Enjoy in a bowl, burrito, salad, or taco along with rice, beans, veggies, salsa, and of course that free guacamole.

When building your burrito, simply avoid adding any of their creamy sauces, sour cream, cheese, and meats. All of their salsas are vegan, along with their chips, so feel free to order an appetizer to munch on. The beauty of a build-your-own-burrito restaurant is that you can enjoy your meal, just how you want it. No swaps or substitutions are necessary. Simply order your vegan ingredients without worry. Qdboa offers both a sit-down or to-go experience and is a great alternative to a drive-through fast-food restaurant because of the quantity and quality of food offered. It can be a healthy option for those looking to eat mostly whole foods, or those on specific diets.

McDonald's Apple Pie

While McDonald's in the U.K. offers quite a variety of plant-based options, the chain in the U.S. is still playing catchup. For those who have been ordering McDonald's fries as their only plant-based option, we're sorry to tell you they are not classified as vegetarian. Containing beef flavoring, and being fried in a combination of oils including beef fat, McDonald's fries are not compliant with a meat-free diet. However, McDonald's does have a few menu items that are technically made with plant-based ingredients that you can fall back on. Obviously, the apple slices that come with kid's meals are vegan, but the surprising find is that the apple pie is plant-based.

Made with mostly apples, wheat, sugar, and palm oil, the dessert is considered to be made with all plant-based ingredients. However, many vegans do not eat palm oil because the harvesting of the oil destroys the natural habitat of many endangered animals, including the orangutan. We will let you decide for yourself if you'd like to indulge in this sweet treat, but if not, then it's apple slices for you, sorry.

Subway Veggie Delight Sub

While Subway has gotten quite a bit of flack for its bread controversy in the past, the restaurant has seemed to hold its own. While most of the popular subs are meat-based, and there are a few plant-based protein options, there is a good old reliable Veggie Delight Sub. This sub is loaded with all of their fresh veggie options like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers, and red onion, all smushed together on a whole-grain bun. Opt for a wrap, a flatbread, or make it a salad.

Top it with sweet onion sauce, garlic-infused oil, vinegar, pickles, jalapeños, black olives, and banana peppers. Some locations offer guacamole, which is also compliant. When in doubt, ask your sandwich artist if the sauces and toppings you are choosing are vegan, or ask to see the allergens chart, which has a category for both vegetarian and vegan diets. As many plant-based dieters know, even if food seems vegan, there's a good chance that milk powder or egg whites have snuck their way in there somehow. Stay alert, ask questions, and enjoy all the plant-based options at popular fast food chains you can get your hands on.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.