In a world of fast food restaurants, with burgers as big as your head, and menus chocked full of pork, chicken and beef, it’s tough to be a vegan or vegetarian when you’re in a hurry, traveling on the road, or with a group of dedicated carnivores.
To the delight of many, some of the biggest names in quick service food are breaking new ground and offering plant-based protein selections for their veg-lovin’ customers.
Here are a few unexpected spots to grab veggie options next time you need to eat and run.
As the second largest quick service Mexican restaurant in the country, Del Taco in December started testing out its meatless Beyond Tacos at 16 locations in San Diego, along with other locations in Southern California. The NASDAQ company partnered with plant-based company Beyond Meat to create a proprietary seasoned alternative to meat. With the same amount of protein as beef, the Beyond option offers an alternative for health-conscious consumers. Specialty tacos include the basic vegetarian Beyond Taco with seasoned crumbles, cheddar cheese, lettuce and diced tomato in a crunchy shell, and the vegan Beyond Avocado taco with seasoned crumbles, sliced avocado, lettuce, and diced tomato in a crunchy shell. Additionally, Beyond Meat can be substituted for any meat on other Del Taco menu item, including nacos, burritos, and fries.
Multiple locations, deltaco.com
When one smells chargrilled aromas wafting from Burger King, the first thing to come to mind isn’t a veggie burger. But answering the call of vegetarians nationwide, the fast food giant offers MorningStar Farms Veggie Burger, featuring the brand’s popular garden veggie patty. The burger comes on a toasted sesame seed bun, with lettuce, tomato, white onion, pickles, ketchup, and mayo.
Multiple locations, bk.com/menu-item/veggie-burger
Other unexpected places to nab a veggie burger include Johnny Rockets (Gardein black bean burger), Denny’s (Amy’s), The Habit Burger Grill, and Red Robin.
Worthy of its own plant-protein mention, this wildly popular chain keeps consistent lines with their SmokeShack burger with applewood smoked bacon, the Hot Chick’n with guajillo and cayenne pepper, and hot dogs. But it was the push to offer a veggie burger that prompted the restaurant to test out a vegan and vegetarian burger in New York, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. After much acclaim, the Shack began offering its Veggie Shack, a burger made with black beans, brown rice, and beets topped with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and vegan mustard mayo, and the Vegan Shack, hold the cheese on a gluten-free bun.
La Jolla: Westfield UTC, 4309 La Jolla Village Dr., #2350, 619.391.1570; Mission Valley: 675 Camino De La Reina, 619.391.1626, shakeshack.com
This chain remains a popular option for locals looking for a quick meal outside of burger joints. For vegans and vegetarians, the Mexican eatery offers Sofritas, organic tofu seasoned with peppers and spice, which can team up for a burrito or bowl with vegan fajita vegetables, rice, guacamole, salsa, and pinto or black beans.
Multiple locations, chipotle.com
Blaze Pizza, Pieology, & PizzaRev
Tired of the same ‘ol “veggie lovers” pizzas from big companies like Dominos and Papa Johns? These popular cafeteria-style pizzerias offers plenty of enticing plant-based toppings for vegans, including vegan cheese. PizzaRev dials it up a notch by offering vegan sausage, for an unexpected flavor punch for meat and meatless eaters alike.
Clairemont: 5604 Balboa Ave., 858.314.3346; Encinitas: 127 N El Camino Real, 760.452.8025; Carlsbad: 5620 Paseo Del Norte, 760.894.5029, blazepizza.com
Clairemont: 5575 Balboa Ave., Suite 310, 858.565.0600; Midway District: 3455 Sports Arena Blvd., #110, 619.223.0600, Escondido: 1334 W. Valley Pkwy, 760.489.9889; Carlsbad: 2647 Gateway Rd #101, 760.930.8988, pieology.com
Torrey Highlands: 7835 Highlands Village Pl., 858.324.1200, pizzarev.com