Gone are the days when non-meat eaters had basically two options when dining out: a salad or mixed fruit cup. Each came with a side of sadness. Today, even fast food chains are getting the message that vegetarians and vegans like to eat out once in awhile sans ridicule. Here are 6 chain restaurant menu hacks every herbivore should know about.
1. Olive Garden
The pasta chain takes its dietary restrictions seriously. They’re often happy to substitute meat for vegetables or even more pasta (pre-made ravioli gets tricky, but they’ve been known to accommodate). They even created a list of animal-free dishes they offer. They’re also willing to nix the cheese on any menu selection. As is the rule, just ask. Politely.
2. Burger King
Little known fact: the burger chain will swap out a regular beef patty for a veggie one on any of their burgers. In fact, their Veggie Whopper is one of the more popular items on their “secret” menu, which comes with all the usual trimmings. The bad news for vegans: what once was a dairy-free patty is no longer. Their fries, however, are.
Vegetarians have it pretty great when it comes to paying for extra toppings. While additional meat options can add up, the non-carnivores among us should head to Chipotle, where grilled fajita toppings are free of charge, as are beans and rice. There’s also the sofrita option (shredded tofu) that you can add to any taco or burrito. Chipotle will also throw in as much fresh cilantro as you wish, if you’re into that.
4. Taco Bell
A super easy fix for vegans. Order the 7-layer burrito (which is already meatless) and ask them to hold the cheese and sour cream. Add some potatoes, extra guac and your choice of sauce and you’ve got yourself a pretty satisfying meal that won’t make you feel ripped off.
An incredibly smart idea, Denny’s allows diners to Build Your Own Burger. One of the options is a Veggie Patty courtesy of Amy’s Kitchen. Vegans will want to ask for a white sesame seed burger bun instead of the wheat, which contains honey.
6. Papa John’s
Like Domino’s thin crust (and many other pizza chain doughs), the original hand-tossed dough at Papa John’s is vegan. Order it without the cheese and top it with tomato sauce and loaded veggies. Add a side of garlic and barbecue dipping sauces and you just made yourself a DIY vegan pie.
A meatless steak fajita flatbread? According to one writer, who was treated to the chain’s impromptu, makeshift vegetarian item, “The peppers on the fajita are fire-roasted, with just a bit of balsamic.” And not much else. It looks like you’ll have to ask them to hold the cheese if you’re vegan. The curly fries are always vegan, as are their French toast sticks.
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