Vegetarian Menu Options

At chain & fast food restaurants

As you know, a vegan diet involves avoiding all foods that come from animal products including eggs, meat, and dairy. Although there are a lot more vegans than ever before, eating out as a vegan can still be a tricky task. In an ideal world, you’ll be able to call ahead to a restaurant and find out their options over the phone. If you don’t like what you hear move on to another location. Alternatively, check out the menu online or via social media!

Alas, there are occasions where you will ‘walk-in’ with friends or family. At that point, you don’t want to be the person who forces everyone to go somewhere else. Fortunately, things have changed. A few years ago, you would have found it hard to find any vegan dishes on the menu of a fast food or chain restaurant in the United States. However, the growth of veganism means these businesses have no choice but to improve the number, and quality, of vegan options on their menus.

No longer do you have to worry about accidentally eating an animal product, followed by the inevitable guilt. Now, you can walk into most restaurants in America and be confident that there’s a vegan option for you. Make sure you tell the server that you’re a vegan with special dietary restrictions. Then they can recommend a suitable dish.

Even so, it is important to double check to ensure your choice is truly vegan. For the record, butter is the #1 culprit in terms of sneaking its way into a dish. Most menus have a ‘v’ logo to signify a vegan option, and this takes the guesswork out of things. When you walk into a restaurant, make sure you immediately ask the greeter about vegan options. If the place doesn’t have a greeter, ask the waiter
as soon as you can.

Not every restaurant has the letter ‘v’ beside vegan options and not every server knows what a vegan dish is. Aside from butter, there are several sauces and dressings on seemingly vegan dishes that come from animal products, so make sure you ask about them when you’re not sure.

In this guide, we outline the vegan options at various types of restaurant, so you have the advantage of knowing what to choose before you even walk in.

Asian

When you decide to eat in an Asian restaurant, the staples are rice, tofu, and vegetables which means vegans shouldn’t find it hard to get a tasty lunch or dinner. If you’re not sure what to order, Tofu is a safe and delicious bet. You can try a wide range of options including, Cashew, Sweet and Sour, Garlic, Mongolian, Orange, and Kung Pao Tofu. Remember, tofu is the perfect vegan substitute for meat, and it works really well with a large number of sauces.

Now that the main part of the meal is taken care of, you can safely add vegetable chow mein, or fried rice with garlic eggplant, sautéed green beans or steamed vegetables for a filling meal. Alternatively, try ramen noodles with mixed mushrooms or shichimi.

Asian Restaurants

Mexican

Although Mexican restaurants are best known for beef and cheese, vegans can easily find a wide range of great meals. Did you know that most Mexican cooking staples are vegan? Think about it: Guacamole, salsa, refried beans, pinto beans, corn or flour tortillas, jalapenos, black beans, and vegetable chilli are also vegan!

One of the great things about Mexican food is that it is made up of so many elements. As a result, it is easy to take things out or swap them. You can have vegan tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas. Simply ask for no sour cream and cheese, and request extra guacamole, salsa, and vegetables. Also, we recommend asking if fried potatoes, onion rings, etc. are put in vegan oil.

Mexican Restaurants

Italian

A pizza restaurant is arguably the best choice if you’re a vegan. Certain chains have created special menus, and there are even 100% vegan pizzas on offer now. How does one find a full vegan pizza you ask? Very easily is the answer. Aside from vegan dough, the introduction of vegan-cheese is a game-changer. At this point, it gets easy as you can add tomato sauce, and as many vegetables as you like. Peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and even pineapples are all traditional toppings, so you don’t have to change a great deal.

If for some reason you enter such a restaurant and don’t want pizza, most chains have a range of sides and appetizers to tempt the taste buds. Vegan options include garlic bread, soft pretzels, and minestrone. Some chains have created a gorgeous marinara sauce which you can add to vegetables or pasta dishes.

Italian Restaurants

American

The huge variety makes it easy to choose a vegetarian meal. Choose from soups, salads, appetizers, pastas & veggie burgers!

It is hard to beat American restaurants when it comes to the sheer choice of food on offer, and it is no different if you are vegetarian. While a salad dish is clearly a great choice, don’t forget to browse the appetizer section for hidden gems. Vegetarian options there include fried pickles, guacamole, vegetable dishes, and even hummus.

Don’t forget sides! You can combine a few with appetizers for a filling meal. Vegetarian options here include sweet potato fries or regular seasoned fries, and brown rice with almonds. One of the staples of any good American restaurant is the vegetable patty. Add salad options such as onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, and you’re left with a burger no different to the ‘traditional’ version.

American Restaurants

Seafood

Unfortunately, seafood restaurants are one of the hardest places for vegans to find a good meal because there is often a complete lack of vegan options. Remember, they specialize in fish which means you’re not likely to find a veggie burger. In the worst-case scenario, ask the chef to make you pasta with vegetables and olive oil.

However, if you believe that all sushi restaurants are off your list of vegan options, think again! Rice is your big savior here, and you can top it up with unusual yet delicious tasting vegetable options including carrot and marinated mixed seaweed.

Seafood Restaurants

Sandwich

In a lot of cases, a trip to a sandwich restaurant happens at lunchtime and if you are supposed to go back to work, time is of the essence. Fortunately, finding vegan-friendly sandwiches is a walk in the park. The only problem is keeping your selections to the bare minimum!

Another issue is finding the right selection of ingredients to create truly wonderful sandwiches. Vegan falafel wraps are always a solid choice as they contain hummus and no mayo. If you’re feeling adventurous, try an exotic bread such as Chana Chaat Flatbread with mango compote, salad, vegan coconut yoghurt and spicy chickpeas. Experiment with bread and fillings until you find your dream date!

Sandwich Restaurants

Pizza

A pizza restaurant is arguably the best choice if you’re a vegan. Certain chains have created special menus, and there are even 100% vegan pizzas on offer now. How does one find a full vegan pizza you ask? Very easily is the answer. Aside from vegan dough, the introduction of vegan-cheese is a game-changer. At this point, it gets easy as you can add tomato sauce, and as many vegetables as you like. Peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and even pineapples are all traditional toppings, so you don’t have to change a great deal.

If for some reason you enter such a restaurant and don’t want pizza, most chains have a range of sides and appetizers to tempt the taste buds. Vegan options include garlic bread, soft pretzels, and minestrone. Some chains have created a gorgeous marinara sauce which you can add to vegetables or pasta dishes.

Pizza Restaurants

Burger

These days, a burger chain that doesn’t have vegan options won’t be staying in business very long. It is ALL about the vegan vegetable patty. Load up with vegetables galore including avocados, onions, lettuce, and cucumbers. For a filling and healthy meal, throw in a side salad and green beans.

One of the best creations dreamed up by burger restaurants is the lettuce wrap instead of a burger bun. While you can have a vegan bun, there’s something amazing about seeing a vegetable patty wrapped in a lettuce leaf!

As always, ask if the veggie patties are created and cooked separately from the beef patties and make sure you don’t accidentally add a non-vegan dressing.

Burger Restaurants

Fast Food

The most obvious vegan option in a fast food restaurant is a veggie burger on a vegan bun. These plant-based patties are becoming increasingly delicious, and you can load up on vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, just hold the cheese! It’s also important to make sure that your burger has no special ‘burger sauce’ or mayo.

Practically every fast food restaurant in America has a breakfast menu so you can enjoy your first meal of the day on the go if necessary. Examples of great vegan options include flavored oatmeal such as maple and brown sugar or hash browns. You can even try some French toast sticks if you’re really treating yourself.

Fast Food Restaurants

Steakhouse

Although your meal choices won’t be as restricted as they are at seafood restaurants, it isn’t easy to find something suitable at a steakhouse. In most cases, the best you can hope for is a made-to-order salad with Italian dressing. Make sure you avoid the croutons, egg, and cheese. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a steakhouse that creates a huge, filling salad that compares to what a vegan restaurant can offer.

Otherwise, you’ll have to get creative and look for a side sampler. You should find a steakhouse that offers seasoned fries, black beans, a side salad, and sautéed mushrooms. Alternatively, try a baked potato with no butter and steam vegetables.

Steakhouse Restaurants

Chicken

Chicken Restaurants

Breakfast

Breakfast Restaurants

Healthy

Healthy Restaurants