Vegan Options at 10 Major Restaurant Chains: How To Eat Well Even On Group Vacations

May 16, 2022

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

VeganBurgerKing

Photo by Julian Steenbergen.

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.

Fries

Soft drinks

 

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

French fries

Crisscut Fries

Hash Rounds

Soft drinks and juice

 

3. Chipotle

veganchipotle

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

Sofritas tacos

Veggie tacos

Bean tacos

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

VeganOliveGarden

Unlimited breadsticks

Unlimited salad: Order it without the default dressing and croutons, and instead ask for oil and vinegar!

Minestrone soup

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

 

5. Wendys

VeganWendys

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.

Fries

Breakfast potatoes

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!

Apple Bites

Soft drinks

 

6. Red Lobster

VeganRedLobster

Quinoa rice

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.

Green beans

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.

Soft drinks

 

7. Panera Bread

VeganPanera

Summer Fruit Cup

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Pecans: Ask for a splash of almond milk!

Everything bagel

Plain bagel

Blueberry bagel

Sesame bagel

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!

Apple

Banana

Baguette 

Chips

Soft drinks, coffees, juices, and lemonades

 

8. Taco Bell

vegantacobell

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

Cinnamon Twists

Refried beans and chips: Though not on the menu together, they taste incredible like this!

Soft drinks and slushies

 

9. Jamba Juice

VeganoptionsJamba

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

Sweet pretzel

Impossible sandwich: Order it without cheese!

Juice shots

 

10. Jersey Mike’s

VeganJerseyMikes

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!

Chips

Soft drinks and juice

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Photo: top by Julian Steenbergen; rest by Emily Iris Degn

Emily Iris Degn
Emily Iris Degn is an environmental travel writer, editor, passionate eco-journalist, professional artist, and published eco-poet. She is from the San Juan Islands, but currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her incredible partner and beloved sea shell collection. You can find her in many spaces on Instagram: @emilyirisdegn @happyvegansfeed @emfallstoearth @emilydegnart OR at emilyirisdegn.com.

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