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8 Vegetarian and Vegan Fast Food Options to Try This Year

These popular fast food chains have some great plant-based options, allowing you to enjoy a planet-friendly meal on the go.

Written by
Kristine Nguyen

When you're in a rush or on the road, fast food is always a quick, easy, and accessible choice. But long gone are the days of only being able to order a burger and fries. With the increase in demand for plant-based menu options, more and more companies are beginning to serve up some of their signature dishes planet-friendly style.

Whether you're driving across the country or need a speedy lunch for work, these vegetarian and vegan fast food options make it easy to be green. From KFC's new Beyond Fried Chicken to Chipotle's just-launched plant-based chorizo, here are some picks you should know about.

8 Vegan Fast Food Options to Try

1. KFC

Yes, even KFC has a plant-based option! The chain began testing its Beyond Fried Chicken in 2019 with great success, selling out in just five hours. On January 10, 2022, the option was officially added to menus nationwide.

Made usign pea protein and flavored with KFC's signature "finger lickin' good" seasonings, it's hard to tell you're eating a plant-based option in the first place. While the ingredients are vegan, it's important to note that the chicken nuggets share equipment (like fryers) with non-vegan items.

2. McDonald's

McDonald's finally brought its McPlant burger to the United States! After a trial in England, it made its way to the U.S. to be tested in Irving and Carrollton, Texas; Cedar Falls, Iowa; Jennings and Lake Charles, Louisiana; and El Segundo and Manhattan Beach, California.

Made with a pea protein patty, the McPlant is the chain's first time offering a faux meat burger in the U.S. (Note: While the burger is completely vegan in the UK, the U.S. version features non-vegan mayo and American cheese. The fries aren't vegan either, as they contain "natural beef flavor.")

There's no information available on when an expansion could happen, but experts say it's likely that you'll see it at more restaurants in 2022.

3. Panda Express

If you find yourself at a Panda Express in the next couple weeks, you're in luck. The company is partnering with Beyond Meat to introduce a plant-based version of its famous orange chicken on July 26th.

"As the creator of The Original Orange Chicken, Panda has significant brand equity in this staple American Chinese comfort food," chef Jimmy Wang, executive director of culinary innovation at Panda Express, told VegNews. "We co-developed Beyond the Original Orange Chicken with Beyond Meat to capture the irresistibly crunchy texture of our signature entree, while still giving guests a plant-based option of the dish they know and love."

Right now, it's set to be available in select locations in the greater New York City and Los Angeles areas. While you wait for it to hit a restaurant near you, you can still enjoy a plant-based meal with the chain's Eggplant Tofu and Green Mixed Vegetables.

4. Little Caesars

Little Caesars recently announced it's partnering with Field Roast to launch a meatless pepperoni pizza. Right now, it's available at select locations in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, and Detroit. While the dish is vegetarian, you can omit the cheese to make it a vegan fast food option.

5. Burger King

Burger King's Impossible Whopper has been a massive success, and for good reason. It's everything you love about their OG signature burger, sans the meat. You can order it as-is with mayo for a vegetarian option, or get it without for a vegan fast food option.

Not a burger fan? Burger King is also the first fast food chain to launch plant-based chicken nuggets in the United States. Its Impossible Nuggets are currently only available at select locations in Des Moines, Iowa; Boston, Massachusetts; and Miami, Florida. Hoepfully, they make their way onto more menus soon.

6. Starbucks

Your next trip to Starbucks doesn't have to end at cookie butter lattes or cold brews. The Impossible Breakfast Sandwich is the classic breakfast sandwich everyone loves, only this time it's made with delectably savory Impossible Sausage. If you're looking for a quick snack, the chain also has a Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box.

7. Taco Bell

Taco Bell's plant-based menu offers a wide variety of options that both vegetarians and vegans will enjoy. Try out the Veggie Power Menu Bowl or the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme for that signature Taco Bell taste with a plant-based twist.

If you're vegan, you can easily customize your order. Simply order any menu item "Fresco style," which automatically replaces the dairy (like mayo-based sauces, cheese, and sour cream) with diced tomatoes. You can also swap meat for beans for a vegan protein boost.

8. Chipotle

Chipotle makes plant-based eating on the go easier than ever. With the endless customizable options, you can make the bowl or burrito of your dreams in just a couple minutes.

Besides the chain's famous sofritas (which is made from tofu), you can also try its new plant-based chorizo. It's made from freshly-grown peas and loaded with flavor from chipotle pepper, tomato, garlic, and smoked paprika. Or, stick with a classic beans, rice, and veggies combo.