Are Olive Garden Breadsticks Vegan? Here Are The Facts

Italian food, or at least Italian-American food, isn't typically associated with vegan cuisine. Considering that, the epitome of fast-casual, Italian-inspired dining, Olive Garden, is likely the last place you'd think of going for vegan-friendly options. The most popular items on the menu include the chicken fettuccine Alfredo, laden with grilled chicken and cream sauce; the classic lasagna, layered with pecorino, mozzarella, and parmesan; and the eggplant parmesan, which, despite being vegetarian, rings true to its name with a healthy dose of melty parm. The one thing that everyone looks forward to the most, on the other hand, is the breadsticks — and, believe it or not, they happen to be completely plant-based.

Refilled without limit throughout your meal, Olive Garden's breadsticks are an all-you-can-eat menu item that, out of everything on the menu, might be the most commonly associated with the restaurant's name. They also contain no dairy or eggs — making them 100% vegan-friendly, with no modifications necessary. Fluffy, garlicky, and always steaming warm, the breadsticks are a surprising option that vegan diners may not have considered. What's even more surprising is they're not the only ones. The restaurant chain has an entire vegan menu dedicated to plant-based customers, making eating vegan at Olive Garden easier than ever.

How to eat vegan at Olive Garden

While you could certainly snack on breadsticks through dinner without complaint, Olive Garden goes above and beyond to provide vegan and vegetarian guests with options that are both delicious and satisfying. Aside from the breadsticks, the minestrone soup is another dish vegans can order as is. Without the croutons and Italian dressing, you could also make it a combo by ordering a simple salad with balsamic and olive oil to go along with it. As outlined on its website, Olive Garden is diligent about cross-contamination, and will happily accommodate modifications. In so, many entree items can be vegan-ized if they're not already by removing the cheese and substituting vegetables for meat.

There are a few dishes you should avoid ordering at Olive Garden no matter what, but if you're eating vegan, you'll be best off using the build-to-your-own pasta option to your advantage. The restaurant uses dried pasta noodles which, unlike most fresh varieties of pasta typically served at higher-end Italian restaurants, are made without eggs. Your vegan pasta shape options include angel hair, spaghetti, fettuccine, small shells, and the rigatoni — although it is worth noting that the gluten-free rigatoni contains eggs. You can then top it with marinara or tomato sauce and ask them to toss in whatever vegetables they have in the kitchen. Asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, and eggplant will usually be on hand, but you can also always order a side of steamed broccoli.