For many vegetarians, fast-food choices are sometimes the hardest aspect of eating on the run. However, there are many establishments where vegetarians are gaining recognition and restaurants are realizing this important new segment of diners. As more and more establishments are publishing menus, vegetarians have more selections to choose from. When selecting a restaurant, diners have to weigh the nutritional value, cost, and quality of vegetarian food. Another aspect to consider, especially with fast-food restaurants, is cross-contamination. Sometimes, as diners are in a hurry, some establishments cook fries and chicken or other fried items in the same baskets. Some companies are forthright about doing this, while others have strict policies against such cooking techniques. The following is a list of some of the best fast-food eateries and a brief summary of some of their menu offerings.
Italian – Sure, there is the typical pizza from places like Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Papa John’s, but there are also some Italian restaurants that serve quality pastas and salads. Sabarro and Fazoli’s are two quick-serve eateries that have a variety of vegetarian offerings. They offer spaghetti, baked ziti, breadsticks, and other vegetarian items that are fresh and reasonably priced.
Mexican – Fast food Mexican restaurants, such as Taco Bell, are great choices for vegetarians. Bean burritos, bean tostadas, churros, and nachos with cheese make great non-meat meal items. In addition, a hard, corn-shelled or soft taco can be ordered without meat and sour cream.
American – Side items make great choices for vegetarians at fast food restaurants. One of the best places for side items choices served expediently is KFC. They offer sides such as: corn, green beans, macaroni and cheese, rice, and biscuits. Another good fast bite for vegetarians is Auntie Anne’s. Their pretzels are flavored with almonds, raisins, cinnamon and sugar. They also have a great lemonade for people who want to try something different from the everyday world of soda, tea, and other caffeinated drinks.
Breakfast – Many fast food restaurants are offering some of the best choices for vegetarians during their breakfast hours. Chick-Fil-A has fruit cups, buttered biscuits, and hash browns for some of their breakfast offerings. They also offer bakery items like brownies and cheesecake slices to compliment a morning cup of coffee. Another great choice for morning breakfast is McDonald’s. While McDonald’s offers timeless morning staples like plain biscuits and hash browns, they also offer some great morning choices on their dollar menu. Fruit and yogurt parfaits, apple dippers, and cinnamon rolls allow diners on the go to expand their vegetarian choices. Best of all, traditionally fast food breakfast is less expensive than lunch or dinner at the same restaurant.
While there are fries, sodas, milkshakes and other like items, it is best to try to focus on food that is not based on “empty calories”. Vegetarians are finally becoming a more recognized group and restaurants are starting to notice. A helpful hint as to whether or not an item is truly vegetarian (not made with lard or fried in animal fat) is to ask for the nutritional guide. They are available at most restaurants or on the establishment’s website. There you can look at the list of ingredients and decide whether or not an item is right for you. While you are looking, make sure you pay attention to the food product’s nutritional value to determine if the item is good for you overall.