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Where to Find Plant-Based Fast Food

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Caribou Coffee
RiverNorthPhotography/istockphoto

Fast and Meatless

Plant-based foods are having a moment, largely thanks to trendy meat alternatives from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, among others. They've made it onto the menus of some of the nation's biggest restaurant chains, giving hungry patrons who want to skip meat a lot more choices than salads and French fries. The latest chain to get on the bandwagon is Caribou Coffee, which just added a plant-based breakfast sandwich to its all-day menu. Here are some of the most prominent plant-based options out there right now, and others that are in the works.


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Just Egg Roasted Tomato and Pesto Flatbread Caribou Coffee
Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee, a coffeehouse chain mainly in the Midwest and Plains states, has just put a plant-based breakfast sandwich on its menu. The roasted tomato and pesto flatbread includes a Just Egg patty, a vegan egg substitute, along with dairy-free smoked provolone, roasted tomatoes, and vegan pesto. It's available at 400 locations nationwide, but only for a limited time. Once it's gone (and here's hoping it's popular enough to stick around) vegan customers can still order their drinks with almond, coconut, or oat milk.


Related: The Most Popular Fast-Food Chain in Every State

McDonald's McPlant Burger
McDonald's

McDonald's

The Golden Arches have never been a great choice for vegetarians or anyone who's looking for a plant-based entree, but that is changing: McDonald's is testing the McPlant burger, made with Beyond Meat, at 600 locations in the U.S. Customers in California and Texas initially seemed enthusiastic about the patty made with peas, rice, and potatoes, so much so that many predicted McDonald's would take the McPlant nationwide later this year. But sales of the McPlant are slumping, especially in rural areas, where restaurants are only selling four or five burgers per day — a quarter or less than what urban locations have been selling. That may end up delaying a nationwide rollout, or limit the McPlant's availability to urban areas. 


Related: Why McDonald's Fries Used to Taste Better

KFC Beyond Meat
KFC

KFC

KFC rolled out its plant-based Beyond Fried Chicken nationwide, although the offering is only for a limited time. That's a shame, because it's been getting mostly positive reviews from a wide range of sources — and there's no word yet whether it will become a permanent menu item. The product, which was three years in the making, is available in six- and 12-piece orders. 


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Chipotle Plant-Based Chorizo
Chipotle

Chipotle

Chipotle has offered its plant-based, spiced-tofu mainstay, Sofritas, in tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, and more nationwide since 2014. They've been a hit since their rollout, inspiring copycat recipes galore. But now it's offering a new meatless option: plant-based chorizo. The limited-time offering is made of pea protein, chipotle peppers, tomato paste, garlic, Spanish-smoked paprika and olive oil. And according to Chipotle, it's certified vegan, and has no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, grains, gluten, or soy. 


Related: Best Chain Restaurants for Keto and Other Low-Carb Diets

Impossible Nuggets
Impossible Foods

Burger King

The famously plant-based Impossible Whopper made a splash when it debuted nationwide in 2019, earning raves from customers impressed with how closely it mimicked BK's signature burger. But the meatless burger might need to share the limelight: Burger King said it would become the first major chain to test Impossible Foods' plant-based nuggets, a meatless alternative to chicken nuggets. They were introduced in three markets — Boston, Miami, and Des Moines, Iowa — and initial reviews were promising. The Takeout raved that "they're somehow juicy and tender, yet so grease-free that there's no residue at all left on your fingers after eating."


Related: This Meatless Burger Fooled Our Tasters

Mod Meatless Pizza
MOD Pizza

MOD Pizza

MOD Pizza has debuted its plant-based meat topping — and it's not from Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods. Instead, the fast-casual pizza joint is using Plantly, a chef-created plant-based food and beverage brand. The new vegan meat, available at MOD's 500-plus restaurants, is a soy-free, pea-protein-based Italian sausage crumble seasoned with oregano, fennel, and thyme. MOD also offers Daiya Foods' vegan cheese, which it added to the menu in 2015.


Related: The Best Cheap Pizza Chains and Deals

Carl's Jr. Plant Based Burger
Maria B./Yelp
White Castle Veggie Sliders
White Castle Veggie Sliders by Tony Webster (CC BY-SA)

White Castle

If you're a slider fan, you're in luck: Cult favorite White Castle also offers its tiny burgers in plant-based form, and Eater calls 'em "one of the country's best fast-food burgers, period." If you prefer a more-traditional-tasting veggie burger, there's also a Veggie Slider with a patty featuring peas, carrots, and other veggies made by Dr. Praeger's.  


Related: Things You Didn't Know About White Castle

Qdoba Impossible Fajita Bowl
Amy C./Yelp
Del Taco Avocado Beyond Taco
Nalz C./Yelp

Del Taco

Del Taco, found mainly in the western United States, offers Beyond tacos and burritos for those seeking a plant-based option. The Beyond Guacamole Taco and Epic Beyond Fresh Guacamole Burrito are also dairy-free. Whichever you choose, The Impulsive Buy says you won't miss the meat: "Del Taco took its charming array of spices and seasonings and mixed it into the ground beef-like Beyond Meat, creating a flavorful mélange that is even better than its real meat mixture."

Panera Bread Vegetarian Meal
Beckie C./Yelp

Panera Bread

Panera has always been among the safer options for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking to go easier on meat. You won't find the fancy meat alternatives popping up in other places, but there's still an entire plant-based menu with salads, sandwiches, noodle bowls, and more. Even more may be coming: The chain eventually wants half of its items to be plant-based, according to EatingWell.

Starbucks Protein Box
Rachelle M./Yelp

Starbucks

If you're looking for something a little more substantial to accompany your morning coffee, Starbucks has had an Impossible Breakfast Sandwich on the menu since mid-2020 that includes both plant-based sausage and egg patties. The chain also has a number of non-dairy drink options and a Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box for beyond-breakfast snacking.

Taco Bell Vegetarian Meal
Jamie R./Yelp
Dunkin' Power Breakfast Sandwich
Tara S./Yelp
A&W Beyond Burger
Noel C./Yelp

A&W: Select Markets

This all-American joint may seem like an unlikely spot for a plant-based meal, but select locations offer a burger made with Beyond Meat. Could plant-based chicken nuggets be next? It's possible: They're now on the menu at Canadian A&W restaurants.

Little Caesars: Planteroni Pizza
Little Caesars

Little Caesar's: Coming Soon?

National pizza chains have traditionally offered few options beyond the traditional veggie pie. However, Little Caesar's launched plant-based pepperoni — dubbed "planteroni," of course — in select markets. It's made by a Greenleaf Foods brand, Field Roast, that also produces plant-based hot dogs, sausage, and cheese.


Related: Which Fast-Food Chain Did Best During the Pandemic?

Pizza Hut Beyond Pizzas
Pizza Hut
Wendy's Spicy Black Bean Burger
Wendy's
Panda Express Plant-Based Orange Chicken
Panda Express