Feeding the entire family is a tough job no matter what restaurant you visit. But when you need an easy meal on the weekdays or a pitstop during a family road trip, America’s fast casual chains deliver affordable and reliable options that can make the whole family happy. And now, fast casual chains are introducing more plant-based options than ever before, giving vegan or flexitarian customers a chance to order a meal without meat and dairy.
Nearly half of Americans consider themselves flexitarians, but despite this growing interest to cut out meat, finding affordable plant-based options is intimidating. But diners do not need to struggle to find sustainable and healthy alternatives to the classic burgers and meat-heavy dishes that once defined fast casual.
Approximately 82 million Americans will be eating plant-based meat in 2024, and likely, your family will stop by a fast-casual chain. Luckily, you can sit down at several of America’s most famous businesses and enjoy a refreshing cocktail with a plant-based entree. Brands such as Applebee’s and TGI Fridays have reimagined their burgers with popular brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
Other chains including P.F. Chang’s have developed more extensive menu items to appeal to the plant-based clientele. You can order mapo tofu, noodle dishes, stir-fries, and more. However, some restaurants such as Cracker Barrel remain slower to adapt, offering just a few plant-based options. But you can still navigate the menu’s side items to create a filling, satisfying dinner whenever you visit.
Here’s our guide to finding vegan and vegetarian food at America’s fast-casual chains.
The Best Fast Casual Chains for Vegan and Vegetarian Food
Shroomami: This fully vegan option comes with roasted sesame tofu, warm portobello mix, raw beets, cucumbers, basil, sunflower seeds, shredded kale, and warm wild rice. The bowl is served with miso sesame ginger dressing.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Sweetgreen
Spicy Tofu Crunch: This bowl comes with organic sesame tofu, warm brown rice, roasted balsamic mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, edamame, chopped almonds, crispy onions, arugula, and shredded cabbage topped with a Thai peanut dressing.
Locations: > 60
Read More: Everything Vegan at Just Salad
Noodles & Company
LEANguini Rosa with Impossible Chicken: Signature LEANguini noodles tossed with mushrooms, Roma tomato, and spinach, and topped with panko-breaded Impossible Chicken. Order with no parmesan cheese and request Marinara sauce instead of the creamy tomato sauce.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Noodles & Company
Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill
Impossible Burger: A classic vegan burger made with an Impossible Burger patty and topped with lettuce, pickles, tomato, and onion. Make sure to ask for no cheese to make it fully vegan.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Applebee’s
Lentil Avocado Bowl: This plant-based option comes packed with avocado, spinach, super greens, falafel, roasted veggies, hummus, roasted eggplant, pickled onion, cucumber, lentil tabbouleh, and cabbage slaw that’s topped with both skhug and garlic dressing.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Cava
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Build-Your-Own Burrito Bowl: Chipotle is an excellent stop for vegans looking to customize their favorite meals with their favorite toppings such as pico de Gallo, corn salsa, and tofu sofritas. Visit Chipotle to build your personal favorite lunch.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Chipotle
The Cheesecake Factory
Thai Lettuce Wraps with Grilled Avocado: These lettuce wraps come with avocado, carrots, bean sprouts, and coconut curry noodles. The plate includes three signature Thai-inspired sauces: Peanut, Sweet Red Chili, and Tamarind-Cashew.
Read More: Everything Vegan at The Cheesecake Factory
Chili’s Grill & Bar
Black Bean & Veggie Fajita with Avocado: This fajita plate can be ordered vegan with a few slight substitutions. Order without chipotle butter, cream, cheese, or the black bean patty. Instead ask your server to add Mexican rice, black beans, and veggies. The fajita plate comes with black beans, Mexican rice, pico de Gallo, salsa, avocado, and flour tortillas. Pro tip: Add some guacamole!
Read More: Everything Vegan at Chili’s
Country Plate: Without biscuits and corn muffins, this Cracker Barrel staple can be fully vegan. Choose four plant-based sides to create your own meal.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Cracker Barrel
Nutty Mixed-Up Salad: Order without chicken and feta. This salad comes with grapes, nuts, dried cranberries, strawberries, raisins, pumpkin seeds, and organic apples over a bed of field greens. Pick your favorite dressing.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Jason’s Deli
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Homewrecker Burrito with Organic Tofu: This staple burrito comes with your choice of rice, your choice of beans, shredded lettuce, pico de Gallo, and guacamole. The vegetarian version includes the price of guacamole. Make sure to order without cheese and sour cream.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Moe’s Southwest Grill
Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce: This classic menu item features Olive Garden’s vegan spaghetti with a signature tomato sauce.
Read More: Everything Vegan at Olive Garden
Blue Cheese Pecan Side Salad: Shredded carrots, green onions, cinnamon pecans, Aussie Crunch, and red cabbage served on a bed of mixed greens. Make sure to order without blue cheese crumbles and choose one of the vegan dressings. Order with a baked potato or green beans!
Read More: Everything Vegan at Outback Steakhouse
Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich: The sandwich is filled with piquant peppers, cucumbers, emerald greens, tomatoes, and hummus, served on any bread from above. Order without feta and add avocado!
Read More: Everything Vegan at Panera Bread
Buddha’s Feast: This plant-based medley can be prepared steamed or stir-fried. The vegan feast comes with savory sauce, green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and five-spice tofu.
Read More: Everything Vegan at P.F. Chang’s
Qdoba Mexican Eats
Impossible Fajita Bowl: The signature bowl comes complete with plant-based Impossible protein, fajita veggies, corn salsa, salsa, Verde, and black beans over cilantro lime rice. You can order with extra toppings and make sure to avoid the queso or shredded cheese!
Read More: Everything Vegan at Qdoba
Beyond Meat Cheeseburger: Originally fully vegan, this plant-based burger now comes with dairy cheese. Just ask to remove the cheddar cheese and Friday sauce. This burger comes on a regular challah bun with lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, and pickles.
Read More: Everything Vegan at TGI Fridays
Cauliflower Rice Bowl: Chilled cauliflower rice topped with skhug, cucumbers, and fresh dill. Add roasted vegetables, baked falafel, or other side options to better build your bowl. Instead of Tzatziki, order with the lemon herb tahini dressing.
Locations: < 50
Read More: Everything Vegan at Zoes Kitchen
For plant-based food in your area, visit The Beet’s Find Vegan Near Me articles.