The 12 Best Fast Food Chains For Vegetarians

"Fast food" has many connotations, but "vegetarian" typically isn't one of them. Even so, in an age where Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods products are ubiquitous, plant-based options have expanded greatly over the past decade to become widely available and dependable across the U.S. Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, or simply looking to reduce your meat intake, you have options. And if you are cruising down the highway on a road trip or returning home after a long day, you have options. What's even more exciting is these options at fast food restaurants continue to improve and diversify with each passing year.

I've rounded up the 12 best fast food chains for vegetarians based on my experiences as a lifelong vegetarian and most-of-the-time vegan since 2017. While the list of plant-based options at popular fast food chains keeps growing, there are several more accessible restaurants where these options are found in abundance and with the ability to customize orders. For the purpose of this article, I am referring to the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which includes eggs and dairy but not meat in any form. I also use the term "plant-based" to refer to both vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Finally, most of the restaurant chains listed here fall under the fast food category, though a few toe the line of fast casual, they are, nevertheless, served in an efficient and reliable manner and, therefore, deserve a place on this list. More on the methodology is at the end of the article.

1. Starbucks

It is an oft-repeated joke that at almost every corner of an American city, there is a Starbucks serving Frappuccinos and — when the season is right — pumpkin spice lattes. What began in 1971 as a single coffee shop in Seattle's Pike Place Market now has thousands of locations worldwide. Luckily for vegetarians, Starbucks offers many plant-based options, including all-day breakfast, though the availability of items diminishes as the day progresses.

The spinach, feta, and egg white wrap has long been a mess-free vegetarian option that can easily be eaten on the go. With 20 grams of satiating protein, it is a popular breakfast choice that is filling but not overwhelming in size. Newer menu items include the Impossible breakfast sandwich and its vegan counterpart, the plant-based breakfast sandwich, both featuring Impossible Sausage. Starbucks offers a variety of egg bites and bakes (the savory potato, cheddar, and chive bakes are a must-try vegetarian option on the year-round menu), oatmeal, a Berry Trio Parfait, and bagels. Some customers even combine breakfast items; for instance, one Reddit user recommends combining the egg white and roasted red pepper egg bites with the avocado spread and sriracha, then spreading it on a bagel.

For a lunch sandwich, try the crispy grilled cheese on sourdough or the tomato and mozzarella on focaccia. Many drinks are also vegan or can be made vegan; for guidance, see our list of the 18 best Starbucks drinks for vegans.

starbucks.com

Multiple locations worldwide

2. Taco Bell

One of the more famous fast food chains for vegetarians, Taco Bell customers are treated to a plethora of plant-based menu items. In fact, vegetarian items accounted for over 23% of the chain's products sold in 2022, according to Taco Bell. With thousands of locations in over two dozen countries, Taco Bell even makes a good choice for a plant-based meal while on vacation.

Taco Bell's Veggie Cravings menu features about 20 options, including the signature Black Bean Chalupa Supreme, Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, and cinnamon twists. Don't eat dairy? No problem. Over the past several years, Taco Bell has increasingly featured vegan meats and cheeses in limited-release items like the vegan Crunchwrap and fries with vegan nacho sauce. The vegan Crunchwrap was even sold at price parity with the original Crunchwrap, a gesture that does not reflect the industry norm but does illustrate the chain's affinity for its vegan customer base.

In addition to offering explicitly vegetarian and vegan options, Taco Bell's menu is a breeze to customize. Online forums abound with customer recommendations on the tastiest modifications, and Taco Bell has even published guides explaining how both vegetarians and vegans can alter orders to meet their dietary requirements. For example, black beans, refried beans, or potato bites can be substitutions for meat, and asking for "fresco style" meals cues the kitchen to substitute diced tomatoes for dairy products like cheese and sour cream.

tacobell.com

Multiple locations worldwide

3. Subway

When Fred DeLuca and Dr. Peter Buck opened Subway's first location in the 1960s, they probably didn't imagine how quickly it would expand. Today, the chain has over 37,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries, and it is one of the most reliable fast food chains for vegetarians. Subway is famous for its build-your-own model, where food is assembled front-of-house under the customer's direction. However, several curated vegetarian menu items also exist, such as the Veggie Delite sandwich and the egg and cheese breakfast wrap. For dessert, you can't go wrong with one of Subway's cookies, which have inspired many copycat recipes (my favorite has always been the white chocolate macadamia nut).

What is there for vegans? For years, Subway has offered a vegetarian patty featuring soy, carrots, corn, and red peppers that can be added to sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Until recently, this patty included eggs and dairy, but the chain recently partnered with Dr. Praeger's to offer a new patty suitable for vegans. Many of Subway's breads, including the hearty multigrain and artisan Italian (white), are also vegan by default.

subway.com

Multiple locations worldwide

4. Domino's Pizza

For a one-stop shop to feed the entire family, call it a pizza night and order from Domino's. If you prefer a tried-and-true version of vegetarian pizza, go for the Pacific Veggie, Wisconsin 6 Cheese, or spinach and feta pizzas, all of which can be made with your choice of size and crust. On the other hand, if you know what you like and have a masterpiece in mind, you can easily build your own pie. While some pizza restaurants allow customers to choose little more than the size of the pizza and the toppings that go on it, Domino's encourages customers to explore a wide variety of unique combinations. Whether it is a New York-style crust with Alfredo sauce and asiago cheese that you prefer or a gluten-free crust with marinara, extra cheese, and a sprinkling of feta, Domino's can make it for you.

Despite the chain's name, Domino's Pizza serves more than just pizza. Try building your own pasta, chowing down on a Mediterranean veggie sandwich, or snacking on the melty three-cheese-loaded tots. The classic garden salad is the perfect fresh accompaniment to any entree (and can be made vegan without the croutons and cheese), and the chocolate lava crunch cake is a sublime dessert.

dominos.com

Multiple locations worldwide

5. Dunkin'

Previously known as Dunkin' Donuts, this classic coffee chain rebranded in 2019 to the simpler moniker of "Dunkin," but never fear: The donuts are still plentiful and at the forefront of the chain's menu. Impressively, according to Dunkin', it sells over 2.9 billion donuts and Munchkins (donut holes) every year in over 12,000 restaurants and 46 countries. Of course, these sweet treats are best dunked in one of the chain's popular drinks, like the macchiato or the matcha latte. Sadly, Dunkin' recently removed coconut milk from its dairy alternative options, but some beverages can still be made non-dairy with either almond milk — the first non-dairy option Dunkin' introduced in 2014 —or oat milk.

While lesser known compared to the chain's donuts and drinks, several food items are well worth your consideration. The egg and cheese sandwich, for instance, makes for a satisfying start to your day and pairs well with the hash browns. If you are more in the mood for a hearty afternoon snack, opt for the stuffed bagel minis, bagel dough balls filled with cream cheese. Every Dunkin' menu item can be ordered from early morning until late evening — all the more reason to plan on having breakfast for dinner.

dunkindonuts.com

Multiple locations worldwide

6. Shake Shack

What first opened as a hot dog cart two decades ago in New York City's Madison Square Park has evolved into a burger chain with a cult following crazy for its gourmet burgers, decadent milkshakes, and mouth-watering crinkle fries. While Shake Shack may seem like a place where it would be difficult for vegetarians and vegans to get their fill, this is not the case.

The Veggie Shack and 'Shroom Burger are worthy vegetarian alternatives to bestselling beef-based burgers like the ShackBurger. These two plant-based burgers eschew the industry trend of using branded mock meats. Instead, the Veggie Shack features a traditional vegetarian patty with several key ingredients that elevate the flavor: mushrooms, sweet potatoes, leeks, carrots, and ancient grains like farro and quinoa. This patty can be ordered as a substitution for any burger. Meanwhile, the 'Shroom Burger does not skimp on flavor or satisfaction. Its main event is a fried Portobello mushroom stuffed with gruyere and cheddar cheese. Of course, Shake Shack offers crinkle fries and milkshakes that complement the burgers wonderfully.

Vegan options at Shake Shack also exist. The Veggie Shack can be made vegan by replacing the potato roll with a lettuce wrap or gluten-free bun and removing the cheese, ShackSauce, and fried onions. Shake Shack even has two vegan dessert options: As of May 2023, the chain's core menu features a non-dairy chocolate shake and a non-dairy chocolate frozen custard, both created with NotMilk, a plant-based milk alternative. 

shakeshack.com

Multiple locations worldwide

7. Plant Power Fast Food

This list would be incomplete without mentioning Plant Power Fast Food, a 100% vegan fast food chain that opened its first location in 2015. Currently based in California and Nevada, Plant Power specializes in vegan versions of burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets, milkshakes, and other fast food items traditionally made with meat. Founder Zach Vouga and his partner, Mitch Wallis, developed and executed the concept for this chain with immense intention and precision. Wallis was the founder of Evolution Fast Food, the world's first vegan drive-thru, and Plant Power is a continuation of his movement to establish a cruelty-free sector of the drive-thru industry.

The chain's mission to spread compassion and flavorful experiences begins with the ingredients. Many of Plant Power's menu items feature Just Egg — a plant-based alternative to ordinary eggs — and other dairy and meat alternatives from partnerships with Oatly, Violife, and Beyond Meat. Plant Power promises to meet several criteria with each meal, including sustainable packaging and the absence of cholesterol, artificial flavors, trans fat, and corn syrup. Whether it's a vegan bacon cheeseburger you are craving or a vegan ice cream dessert, this chain will go above and beyond to meet your plant-based desires.

plantpowerfastfood.com

Multiple locations in California and Nevada

8. Del Taco

First opened in Yermo, California in 1964, Del Taco now has nearly 600 locations nationwide. Its restaurants are open 24/7, meeting the needs of a world that is constantly buzzing with activity and hungry for good food.

Like Taco Bell, this Tex-Mex chain has plenty of options for vegetarians. The vegetarian and vegan section on the website's menu lists 13 options, including Del Taco's signature Crunchtada Tostada, several burritos, quesadillas, shakes, caramel cheesecake bites, and churros. Del Taco also has a popular value menu with more affordable options like snack tacos and three-layer queso nachos.

While the hashbrown sticks and fries are the only explicitly vegan options, menu items like the burritos and the Crunchtada Tostada can be adapted to omit dairy. In such cases, you can request black beans or avocado as replacements. Although Del Taco once offered Beyond Meat, it was phased out of all restaurants by 2023. Even so, if you order the eight-layer veggie burrito without cheese and sour cream, it becomes strikingly similar to the once-popular Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito.

deltaco.com

Multiple locations nationwide

9. Peet's Coffee

For those in the Bay Area, Peet's Coffee is like a familiar friend you see every day. The popular coffee hub can trace its roots back to 1966, when Alfred Peet opened a shop in Berkeley, California that served high-quality, dark roast blends. Today, Peet's Coffee has over 200 locations in California and a smattering of stores in major cities like Chicago and Portland.

Peet's offers several vegetarian and vegan options. The egg white, tomato, and feta frittata is an excellent, protein-packed breakfast choice, as is the egg and cheese sandwich. If you have a sweet tooth, try one of the freshly baked goods, including croissants, muffins, and coffee cakes. Vegans can choose between the southwest breakfast burrito, the Everything Plant-Based Sandwich, and oatmeal. The southwest breakfast burrito features plant-based chorizo, Just Egg, and Violife plant-based cheddar. The Everything Plant-Based Sandwich includes Just Egg and Beyond Breakfast Sausage.

Of course, Peet's offers many beverage options, including Mighty Leaf tea, sparkling lemonade, and — you guessed it — coffee. When it comes to non-dairy milk alternatives, Peet's is serious about guaranteeing customers rich drinks. In 2023, the chain reported that non-dairy milk accounted for over 34% of total milk used. Customers can choose between Pacific Foods' oat milk and almond milk barista blends, both selected for their flavor and capacity to create microfoam.

peets.com

Multiple locations nationwide

10. Panera Bread

Founded as St. Louis Bread Company in 1987, Panera Bread now has over 2,000 locations in the United States and Canada. This fast-casual restaurant is often considered fast food, especially now that many locations have added drive-thrus, but its menu does not include typical fast food fare. Instead, it emphasizes a relatively healthy range of breads, bagels, salads, sandwiches, and soups in addition to baked goods.

The menu has many vegetarian options and possible modifications that make it accessible to vegans as well. The strawberry poppyseed salad is a vegan entree that features a romaine base and an assortment of juicy mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple chunks, toasted pecans, and a poppyseed dressing. Several of Panera's bagels also made it onto our list of the top 13 vegan items at Panera Bread, but since Panera does not offer vegan spreads, you might want to bring your own side of vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, jam, avocado, hummus, or nut butter spreads.

If you know the right Panera Bread secret menu hacks, the number of vegetarian and vegan options expands immensely. For instance, dropping the feta cheese and replacing the tomato basil miche with a vegan bread like the classic sourdough transforms the popular Mediterranean veggie sandwich into a vegan entree. Another trick is to replace the meat on any sandwich or salad with avocado.

panerabread.com

Multiple locations in the United States and Canada

11. Qdoba

It came as sad news for many vegetarians and vegans when Impossible Foods' mock meats were phased out of all Qdoba locations, having been first introduced in 2019. Nevertheless, this Mexican chain still includes several vegetarian and vegan options. One of the only explicitly vegan options on the menu is the Fajita Veggie Post-Workout Bowl, which is a delicious combination of brown rice, black beans, sauteed fajita vegetables, pico de gallo, chili corn salsa, and salsa verde. The citrus lime chicken salad can also be made vegetarian and vegan by eliminating the chicken, and it already includes black beans as a protein source.

The real fun comes with the build-your-own menu. As alternatives to chicken, steak, shrimp, beef, and pork, customers can opt for black beans or pinto beans in their bowls, burritos, salads, quesadillas, and tacos. The crispy taco shell, crunchy tortilla shell, flour tortilla, soft corn tortillas, tortilla chips, brown rice, and cilantro lime rice all qualify as vegan bases that can hold a variety of plant-based fillings like chili corn salsa and seasoned potatoes. As a vegan side item, consider ordering chips and either salsa or guacamole.

qdoba.com

Multiple locations in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico

12. Chipotle

Another Tex-Mex chain similar to Qdoba, Chipotle is known for its satisfying array of burritos, quesadillas, bowls, salads, and tacos. While many customers opt to build their own entrees, there are a few preconfigured vegetarian menu options. For example, the Balanced Macros Bowl, Veggie Full Bowl, and Plant-Powered Bowl are all vegan Lifestyle Bowls, menu options that can only be ordered on the app or online. Side items like the chips, salsa, guacamole, and queso blanco are all vegetarian. Speaking of guacamole, everyone knows that a Chipotle meal would be incomplete without a hefty serving of this addicting avocado mash, so it's a good thing that it's vegan, too!

Chipotle's plant-based ingredients are very similar to that of Qdoba, with the exception of Sofritas, the chain's meat alternative. Sofritas is soy protein that has been braised with a variety of spices and herbs, as well as peppers and tomatoes. It's very flavorful with a slightly spicy kick; you don't have to be vegetarian to enjoy it!

chipotle.com

Multiple locations worldwide

Methodology

In selecting the fast food restaurants for this article, I aimed to include a variety of cuisines with widely accessible locations. Who, after all, is going to go out of their way for fast food? Additionally, I looked for restaurants that specifically mentioned vegetarian entrees on the menu, with plenty of options to customize orders as well. This latter point was key, given that chain locations frequently offer slightly different menus, and strictly vegetarian options are often the first to be eliminated. Finally, I considered reviews of how certain restaurants typically cook meat dishes in relation to their vegetarian dishes, seeking to avoid those restaurants that had high risks of cross-contamination; for instance, Panda Express uses shared equipment so there is a possibility of cross-contamination, according to Peta.