Vacations are always a blast, but if you’re the only vegan in the group, eating out can be tricky—especially if dinner is at a major chain restaurant. These spots are notorious for lacking cruelty-free options, and aren’t the best places to be supporting environmentally-speaking either. Studies show that animal agriculture is responsible for more emissions than all forms of transportation combined, and theses chains run on that. They’ve been harped on in recent years for that, and hopefully shareholders and the public will continue to hold them accountable. Until then, here’s what to eat if you do find yourself at major restaurant chains in the United States:
*Tip: It can be a total game changer to keep vegan products in the car, in the case of being somewhere with little options. Having items like vegan mayo, vegan cheese or cream cheese (in a cooler), and even proteins that can be microwaved or eaten as-is can ensure that no matter where you go, you have a full meal.
1. Burger King
Impossible Whopper: Order it without mayonnaise or cheese! For a more filling burger, put fries in it, or ask for extra tomatoes and lettuce inside.
2. Carl’s Jr.
Beyond Famous Star: Order the burger without mayonnaise or cheese! You can even add guacamole to it, extra veggies, jalapeños, salsa, or fries.
Chips and guacamole
Soft drinks and juice
Sofritas burrito: Order a burrito with sofritas, veggies, beans, rice, and salsas. A great combination is sofritas, white rice, black beans, lettuce, and tomatillo-red chili salsa!
Veggie burrito: Order a burrito with fajita veggies and guacamole. Try it with brown rice, pinto beans, extra lettuce, fresh tomato salsa, and roasted chili-corn salsa!
Sofritas burrito bowl
Veggie burrito bowl
Salad with sofritas
Salad with fajita veggies
Salad with beans
Chips and salsa: Choose from four types of salsa, with varying levels of heat!
Chips and guacamole
Soft drinks, juice, and lemonades
4. Olive Garden
Unlimited salad: Order it without the default dressing and croutons, and instead ask for oil and vinegar!
Angel hair pasta with marinara sauce
Fettuccine with marinara sauce
Rigatoni with marinara sauce
Small shells with marinara sauce
Spaghetti with marinara sauce
Steamed broccoli: This is especially delicious to add to a build-your-own pasta creation!
Fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and sautéed vegetables from non-vegan dishes: These are handy to keep in mind when building your own meal! Ask the server if you can add things like asparagus, fresh tomatoes, or sautéed peppers and onions to your creations! It makes it that much tastier.
Soft drinks and lemonades
Plain potato: Order it without sour cream or butter (it usually comes with it in the bag), and ask for chives and avocado instead! It’s also great with bbq sauce or hot sauce on top, for an extra kick.
Veggie sandwich: This one isn’t on the menu, but you can ask for a burger without the patty! Ask for a bun with extra lettuce, extra tomatoes, onions, guacamole, jalapeños, fries, pickles, and ketchup or bbq sauce.
Avocado Veggie Salad: This isn’t available everywhere, but if you can order it, ask for no ranch or cheese. Instead, ask for the Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette (and if that isn’t available, ask for balsamic, bbq sauce, or hot sauce).
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, customized: Order this one without the chicken, cheese, or honey-roasted pecans. Add tomatoes and onions if the fruit and lettuce isn’t enough!
6. Red Lobster
Kung Pao Noodles: This comes with lobster or chicken on the menu, but you can order it without any meat and it’s vegan! Consider asking for mushrooms as a replacement, as they do serve those in other dishes on the menu.
Broccoli: Order it by itself, or on top of the quinoa rice on the menu! It’s incredible with lemon wedges on the side.
Baked potato: Order it without sour cream or butter! Ask for avocado or vinaigrette instead.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Sea-Salted French Fries
House Salad: Order it without cheese or croutons, and ask for either french dressing or the sesame vinaigrette.
Sesame-Soy Salmon Bowl, customized: Without the salmon, this bowl is entirely vegan! It comes with quinoa rice, crispy brussel sprouts, edamame, spring mix, crispy onions, and sesame vinaigrette. Ask for extra sprouts, add green beans to it, or add broccoli!
Baja Shrimp Bowl, customized: Order it without the shrimp, sour cream, slaw, or ranch, and it’s a filling burrito bowl! Ask for extra beans and avocado so it’s worth the price. It’s great with added spring mix!
Pasta: At some restaurants, you can order linguine with tomato sauce for a pasta dish. It’s not on the menu, so ask your server if they’d be willing to do that for you! Add the broccoli and lemon wedges to it, and it’s really delicious.
7. Panera Bread
Summer Fruit Cup
Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Pecans: Ask for a splash of almond milk!
Southwest bagel sandwich: This isn’t specifically on the menu, but order a plain bagel with avocado, sweet Peppadew peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, spinach, red onions, and buffalo sauce! For some more oomph, add hummus too!
Avocado toast: This isn’t on the menu either, but you can put avocados, tomatoes, and greens on either a sesame bagel, everything bagel, slice of sourdough, or toasted ciabatta.
Greek Salad: Order it without feta!
Asian Sesame Salad: Order it without chicken, and add avocado, edamame, cucumber, and mandarin oranges (or tomatoes) instead!
Fuji Apple Salad: Order it without chicken and cheese. Instead, add edamame or strawberries!
Citrus Asian Crunch Salad: Order it without chicken!
Strawberry Poppyseed Salad: Order it without chicken, and add avocado instead!
Mediterranean Veggie sandwich: Order it without cheese, and put it on either sourdough, french, or ciabatta bread!
Deli Turkey Sandwich: Order it without turkey, and add avocado instead (and ask for extra veggies)!
Chipotle sandwich: Ask for the toppings on the southwest bagel sandwich (mentioned above), but on sourdough bread and with hummus mixed with buffalo sauce!
Build your own pizza: Ask for the Margherita Flatbread Pizza without cheese, and add whatever vegetable or fruit toppings you’d like! Make a pineapple pizza with fresh pineapple and peppers.
Baja Bowl: Order it without cheese or sour cream!
Mediterranean Bowl: Order it without cheese or Greek yogurt!
Soft drinks, coffees, juices, and lemonades
8. Taco Bell
Spicy Potato Soft Taco: Order it without cheese or chipotle sauce, and instead add onions, jalapeños, tomatoes, and green sauce.
Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme: Order it without any cheese or sour cream, and instead add guacamole, jalapeños, seasoned rice, onions, and a packet of Taco Bell sauce!
Power Menu Bowl- Veggie: Order it without sour cream or cheese, and add extra tomatoes!
Bean Burrito: Order it without cheese, and add tomatoes and seasoned rice! Add more veggies and sauces for a more packed burrito.
Black beans and rice
Refried beans and chips: Though not on the menu together, they taste incredible like this!
Soft drinks and slushies
9. Jamba Juice
The Go Getter smoothie
Summer Blackberry smoothie
Apple ‘n Greens smoothie
Vanilla Blue Sky smoothie
Green ‘n Ginger smoothie
Mega Mango smoothie
Peach Perfection smoothie
Pomegranate Paradise smoothie
Pumpkin Smash plant-based smoothie
Smooth Talkin’ Mango smoothie
Strawberry Whirl smoothie
Vanilla Blue Sky smoothie bowl
Impossible sandwich: Order it without cheese!
10. Jersey Mike’s
The Veggie sandwich: Order it without cheese, and add extra tomatoes and their pepper relish!
Grilled Portabella Mushroom and Swiss: Order it without swiss, and add their pepper relish!
Soft drinks and juice
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: top by Julian Steenbergen; rest by Emily Iris Degn