Chipotle recently announced they’ll be offering tofu as a protein at all of their locations. The chain is cleverly calling their braised tofu “sofritas,” which is Spanish for “made-up word for braised tofu.” Vegetarians and vegans rejoiced: Finally, something to eat!
For people who avoid meat or have food allergies, fast food joints are generally a no-go. But they’re missing out: There are actually some surprisingly decent offerings from major chains. And no, this isn’t just a list of places that offer side salads or don’t use animal fat to make their fries. Here are some options that constitute actual, somewhat nutritious and filling meals for people who don’t eat meat, animal products, or gluten.
If you don’t see your favorite vegetarian item here, it might be below in the “Vegan” category - many vegetarian things can (unsurprisingly) become vegan-friendly with a few tweaks.
1. McDonald’s: Egg McMuffin (without Canadian bacon) and a hash brown
ABOVE: Flickr photo via uggboy
Mmm, McDonald’s breakfast. Allegedly, it will be available 24/7 starting soon.
Most vegetarians get stuck eating fries at fast food restaurants. But at McDonald’s, even those are off-limits: they fry them with animal fat. If you don’t make it in time for breakfast, try the fruit and yogurt parfait and a pie for dessert.
2. Burger King: MorningStar Veggie Burger
The type of veggie burger they use isn’t vegan (it contains some dairy products). But if you’re OK with that, eat up. Their fries aren’t made with animal products, so your vegan friends can have a bite of those if you’re feeling generous.
3. In-n-Out : Grilled cheese
In-n-Out touts its “not-so-secret” menu. One of the options is a grilled cheese. Upgrade it to animal style for maximum deliciousness.
4. Taco Bell: Crispy potato soft taco
Vegetarians say Taco Bell is a fast food staple. The beans are made with soy oil instead of lard like they are at most places. Time-tested favorites include the crispy potato soft taco and the 7-layer burrito, but you can also get the black bean burrito, cheese roll-up, cheese nachos, or a regular bean burrito.
5. Carl’s Jr.: Six Dollar Guacamole Burger
The Six Dollar Burgers at Carl’s Jr. are made with higher-quality ingredients than most fast food fare. You can sub out the beef for a generous slathering of guacamole. Add a side of fried zucchini to round it out.
6. Subway: Veggie sub
For around $5 (depending on which promotion is running), you can get a footlong sandwich piled sky-high with veggies. Now with no added yoga mat flavor.
7. Little Caesar’s: Cheeseless Pizza
ABOVE: Twitpic via Snagglzar
The Little Caesar’s Hot-n-Ready $5 pizza is vegetarian, but for a little more, you can request a custom one without cheese on it. The sauce and dough is certified vegan. Some locations even offer gluten-free dough.
8. Taco Bell: Bean burrito, “Fresco style”
As mentioned above, Taco Bell is a vegetarian go-to. It’s good for vegans too: Order a bean burrito “fresco style” and they’ll use pico de gallo instead of shredded cheese.
9. Chipotle: Sofritas burrito
Some locations have had sofritas available for a while now, and even the occasional carnivore had been known to enjoy them. The pinto beans at Chipotle used to be made with bacon, but they changed the recipe due to popular demand, so load up.
People with gluten sensitivities generally avoid restaurants where wheat products are served (read: every restaurant) since there’s a chance for cross-contamination. For those willing to take the risk, here are some wheat-free options.
10. Wendy’s: Baked potato and chili
Wendy’s is one of the only chains out there that has an entire menu of their gluten-free options. The baked potato with cheese and chili is delish.
11. In-n-Out: Protein burger and fries
Gone Paleo? Get an In-n-Out burger “protein style,” which means they’ll wrap it in lettuce instead of a bun. Their fries are made fresh and gluten-free.
12. Arby’s: Farmhouse salads (crispy chicken or roast turkey)
These are actual, decent, meal-sized salads, as opposed to the sad miniature side salads most places try to pass off as their gluten-free option. Like Wendy’s, Arby’s has a list of all their gluten-free menu items.
THE HOLY GRAIL: ANIMAL- AND GLUTEN-FREE
As you can probably imagine, there aren’t many options for people who abstain from meat and wheat altogether. But at least one does exist! We assume you know to request they leave off the cheese, mayo, and other things lesser evolved minds might call “the best part.”
13. Chipotle: Burrito bowl with sofritas and brown rice
The burrito bowl is the beloved low-carb alternative to a standard Chipotle burrito. Though gluten cross-contamination is always a possibility in restaurants that serve wheat products, most people who are gluten-sensitive report that they can properly enjoy a burrito bowl without incident. On their website, Chipotle says workers will even change their gloves before preparing your food if you ask.
Grabbing food on the go can be a challenge if you aren’t an omnivore. Thankfully, more and more chains are recognizing the need for menu items that everyone can enjoy.