Consider this scenario: You’re getting out of work, hungry, and have only 30 minuets until you need to get to an event where food won’t be served. So you decide to stop and grab something quick. There aren’t many places around, so you pull into the drive through of a cheap fast food joint. As you look at the menu, you find yourself dissipointed – almost everything on it has meat. About the only thing that isn’t meat are the fries. Hmmm, you decide you don’t want five boxes of fries for dinner, though, so you’ve got to find another option.
Finding vegan or vegetarian food when you’re on the run is really challenging. It seems like most fast food places have meat and/or dairy in almost all of their products. This makes eating on the go very difficult for a vegetarian or vegan.
So, since most fast food joints don’t have any or many options for those of us who like to limit or abstain from animal products, we have to get creative until they do.
1.GROCERY STORES: Check your local super market or grocery store. Make sure you pick one with food/salad bars. Many store chains here in the States have salad bars with salad, fruit, grains and other meatless and dairy free options that allow you to ‘mix and match’ so to speak. One grocery chain store here in my area has an Asian food bar that I really love and offers vegetarian options. Good stores to try are Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and other stores dedicated to healthy foods. Many of them have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on their food bars. Numerous regional food stores also have salad and food bars where you can make your meal any way you like, so hopefully you can find one in your area.
2. Subway, Quizno’s, Jimmy John’s and other sub shops: These are a great way to get a decent, affordable meal while avoiding meat. Many of them offer meatless subs or will gladly omit or meat or replace it with something else for little or no cost.
3. Little Asian takeout places: These locations might be likely to offer vegetarian options. Asian is usually vegetarian and vegan friendly, so that makes it a great go-to. I frequent a couple of little places near my home, both of which offer a couple of meatless options. One place has a veggies and tofu combo that comes with rice and the other offers a wonderful meatless chow mien. You can also request dishes that have meat as meatless.
4. Burger King: The burger chain has recently begun to notice those of us who don’t want dead cow or chicken on our burger and has been carrying Morning Star vegetarian burgers. This is a freakin’ huge step for us veggies out there! A fast food chain known for beef burgers has finally made room for another option. However, the couple of times I’ve gotten their veggie burger, I found it over cooked and a little tough. Quite frankly, not worth the money.
5. Taco Bell: has some great vegan options. You can get any of their traditional meat items ‘Fresco Style’, which means they’ll replace cheese and sour cream with pico de gallo and guacamole. Some locations just add the pico and guac without removing the meat, so don’t forget to say no meat (or no cheese)! I’ve done this several times and it’s pretty good. I also really like the ‘Power Menu Bowl’; it’s got lettuce, tomatoes, guac, cheese and black beans. Normally it has chicken in it, but you can request it meatless. They also have a couple of meatless burritos that work well for a meal.
6)Moe’s & Salsarita’s: They both have vegetarian and vegan options. Burritos, bowls and tacos can all be made to order so opting out of meat and or cheese is easy. Moe’s also offers tofu if you want a meat substitute. I frequent both places and love them. It’s nice to have options easily available.
There are plenty of options for those living or traveling outside of the US as well. Unfortunatly, I’ve never traveled outside the US, so I can only share information found on the internet, though it does look like there are several options.
Canada has several options for quick vegetarian and vegan meals. According to the internet (and website Narcity.com) Canada has numerous options as well. They say that A&W Canada offers two veggie burgers for vegetarians. Chipotle, Harvey’s and Five Guys also offer vegetarian options.
In Europe there are some options. Website The Nomadic Vegan notes that in Italy, O’Vito (Known as Universo Vegano) is a great option for vegans as it’s menu is 100% vegan. Elsewhere in Europe, McDonald’s offers a vegan burger in Sweden and Finland called the McVegan reports website Quartz.
In Australia, website Vomad recommends trying eateries like Zambreros, specializing in healthy, Mexican style food. It sounds like they have several options for those who like to eat vegetarian or vegan. Another option is Lord of the Fries (great name, too!), a fast food joint that promises completely vegetarian meals and heavily vegan, according to the website. They have vegetarian and vegan versions of burgers, fries and hot dogs.
I didn’t have as much luck finding sources for fast food in South America, however, I did find an excellent general resource for finding vegetarian and vegan restaurants in South American countries called Happy Cow. The site has listings for just about all countries on the continent so that you can find something for wherever you are.
In Africa, Capetown has the best vegan eating reports The Nomadic Vegan. They also note that many African dishes are naturally vegan. These meals can be found in some food stalls. Chain restaurant Nando’s is also recommended as a good option for those who want to avoid animal products.
India has some meatless McDonald’s restaurants says Time magazine. Most of the Indian locations also offer a great deal of vegetarian meals as well, they say. Other options in India include Saravana Bhavan and Fasso’s.
If I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments section! And let readers know what places do you recommend, too!