If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it can be pretty hard to find places with decent options — especially if you’re at a pitstop in the middle of nowhere. But there are fast food chains with vegetarian options, and a lot of them aren’t all that terrible. So don’t be afraid to pack up your bags with your squad and go on that road trip this summer. You won’t starve! Or be forced to subsist on Chick-fil-A waffle fries alone, although that’s not the worst possible fate ever.
There are a few things vegetarians should know when they’re at fast food chain, though. The first is that a lot of things are fried, which means that the veggie options are likely fried in the same oil as non-vegetarian items. So if you’re stressed about cross-contamination, a lot of these options might not work (you can always ask to be sure, though!).
Also! Remember this: If you’re at a McDonald’s, do not eat the fries. Although it seems like an obvious choice, McDonald’s adds beef flavoring to its French fry oil, meaning those delectable potato bites aren’t veggie-friendly at all. Crazy, right? Two people in Seattle are actually suing the burger giant for not disclosing that information, or having it displayed somewhere more prominent on the menu. For good reason, too: The plaintiffs are Hindu, so it’s against their religion to eat beef. The company said in a statement that it’s just a “trace” amount of flavoring, but in the ingredients list on its website, it only says “natural flavoring.”
But, if you’re a vegetarian who’s not too concerned about cross-contamination, there are choices out there.
Here are some fast food chains that have vegetarian options.
Taco Bell is actually super vegetarian-friendly. First of all, you can swap in rice and beans in basically every single item or just get a plain cheese quesadilla. Pro tip? Ask for potatoes in your taco salad instead of meat. It’s pretty delicious.
At Wendy’s, always get the baked potato with broccoli. If you’re not vegan, you can add hot cheese, too. It will definitely hit the spot.
At Burger King, you can just ask for a veggie burger instead of a meat patty. It’s a Morningstar veggie patty, so you know what to expect, too.
Yes, Carl’s (or Hardees as it was once known) used to just take out the patty when you asked for a veggie option, which it totally ridiculous. But now they give you some fried zucchini to add to your burger, so you’re getting a little something. You can’t go wrong with an Oreo shake, either.
5Jack in the Box
They’re known for their burgers, but you can take advantage of their all-day breakfast menu, which includes pancakes and egg sammies. Also delish? The jalapeño poppers and mini churros.
It’s hard to imagine anything vegetarian in here, but options do exist! Some locations actually have veggie sliders, so if you’re lucky you can get a bunch of burgers. If not, go for the onion chips or mozzarella sticks.
Warning: Do not eat off of the sides menu! Though the items all look veggie-friendly, many contain pork fat. Even the mashed potatoes. What you can get, though, is some mac and cheese, biscuits, or even some coleslaw.
Just because you’re a vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to starve when you’re on the road. It can be tricky, but there’s nothing wrong with a bean burrito and a bunch of fries.