Drive-thru Vegetarian

Fuel your road trip with healthier fast-food options

By Amanda Rock

Vegans and vegetarians used to have limited options when road-tripping across the country. A typical order at a drive-thru would consist of a hamburger minus the beef patty (don’t laugh), French fries, veggie subs and bean burritos. Times, they are a-changing; you can now find tastier fast-food options at nearly every exit. You just need to know where to look. Let’s hit the road!

Besides an abundance of packaged vegan snacks, Starbucks offers hearty oatmeal made with both rolled and steel-cut oats. The classic oatmeal comes with cute packets of colorful dried fruit, nuts and brown sugar.
Starbucks does not skimp on the toppings, and it’s fun to personalize your oatmeal experience. The blueberry oatmeal, for example, includes a crunchy nut and seed medley as well as agave syrup for drizzling.
Order a latte made with soy, almond or coconut milk to round out your breakfast.

Burger King
If you’re craving sweet and salty, find the nearest Burger King and order the vegan French toast sticks that can be dunked in maple syrup. It also comes with a side of crunchy hash browns. Keep a caffeinated beverage ready for that inevitable (and totally worth it) sugar crash.

Einstein Bagels
A bagel slathered with hummus, peanut butter or avocado is a great way to start your day. Add some fresh veggies or fruit, and you’ve got a balanced breakfast. Now there’s one more tasty option for your bagel—Daiya Dairy Free Schmear! Made from potato starch and pea protein, this vegan option has a smooth creamy texture and authentic cream cheese flavor.

Carl’s Jr.
When Carl’s Jr. added Beyond Burger to its menu, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I’ve been craving a vegan fast-food hamburger for decades! Made without soy or gluten, the Beyond Burger has a whopping 20 grams of protein from peas. Take a bite and you’ll notice the burger is pink inside—that’s from the trace amounts of beets in the recipe. Both the flavor and texture are satisfying and very beef-like. Skip the mayo and cheese, and you’ll have a formidable vegan fast-food burger.

Apollo Burger
When I was researching an article for a recent City Weekly’s dining guide, I discovered Apollo Burger made the best French fries in SLC. You can imagine how happy I was when this local burger chain added the Impossible Burger to its menu. The Impossible Burger is totally different from Beyond Burger. First of all, the protein comes from potatoes and soy. The folks behind the Impossible Burger have also figured out how to make a plant-based heme (the essential molecule that gives meat its meaty flavor) with yeast fermentation. All scientific stuff aside, with that signature char-broil, this is one burger not to miss. And those French fries cannot be beat!

Taco Bell
If you haven’t tried the Crunchwrap made with black beans instead of beef, you’re in for a life-changing experience. The only fast-food restaurant with a menu certified by the American Vegetarian Association, Taco Bell offers the most vegetarian and vegan options. It’s easy to customize your order, sub beans for beef and omit dairy products. The only limit is your imagination!

Del Taco
While Del Taco is just as customizable as Taco Bell, they have become a veg destination with the groundbreaking addition of Beyond Meat to their menu. Del Taco offers two tacos featuring the plant-based substitute for ground beef: the vegetarian Beyond Taco, topped with shredded cheese, and the vegan Beyond Avocado Taco. Flavored with ancho chili, onion, garlic, lime, oregano and cumin, the Beyond Meat works well in the crunchy tacos. You can also substitute Beyond Meat in any other menu item. Imagine the possibilities!

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