A College Student's Guide to Vegan Fast Food

Veganism is a hot trend that shows no signs of slowing down soon.  More and more people are becoming concerned about their health, as well as animal welfare issues.  With the emergence of popular documentaries on Netflix such as What the Health, Forks Over Knives, and Vegucated, information about vegan diets is reaching more people than ever before.  However, one question many college students find themselves asking is, “How can I possibly eat vegan as a college student?” Let’s be real: college students have limited time and money.  But I’m here to tell you -- from one broke and over-whelmed college student to another -- that it’s possible! And not only possible -- many of your favorite fast food places make eating vegan easy. 

Taco Bell

Did you know that you can fully customize any menu item at Taco Bell? At Taco Bell, all of the different corn and flour tortillas they use are vegan, so you have a ton of options here.  As far as what you put inside: the black beans, refried beans, seasoned rice, potatoes, guacamole, and pico de gallo are all vegan! Plus, you can add all the veggies and sauce packets you want.  I’d highly recommend trying out a Crunchwrap Supreme without the beef, sour cream, and nacho cheese and added black beans, potatoes, and guacamole.  But with all of the vegan options here, you can basically veganify any menu item you want!

Chipotle

Chipotle makes it SO EASY to eat vegan! All you have to remember here is that the sour cream, cheese, meats, queso, and salad dressing are not vegan.  Other than that, you can load up your burrito, tacos, or bowl with any toppings you want.  For protein, add some sofritas (shredded tofu with spices) to your order, or just load up on beans.  If you choose to go meat and sofrita free, you even get free guac.  Why would you ever order a bowl with meat again when you can get free guacamole instead!?!

Noodles & Company

Not feeling Mexican food? Try Noodles & Company! There are some awesome vegan options here.  You can choose the Japanese Pan Noodles for a more Asian-inspired meal, or go more Italian and get the Penne Rosa (without cream or cheese).  For a basic (but always great) noodle dish, just get the Spaghetti with Marinara (without cheese).  If you want noodles but want to be a little bit more health conscious, try the Whole Grain Tuscan Fresca (without cheese) and maybe even add a Tossed Green Side Salad with balsamic vinaigrette.  There’s no need to feel restricted as a vegan here!

Starbucks

You don’t have to give up sugary lattes or Frappuccinos to be a vegan. The basics are all vegan (plain coffee, iced coffee, tea, etc), and almost anything on the menu can be made with almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk in place of the cow kind.  Unfortunately, some of the syrups do contain dairy products, so certain drinks cannot be made vegan.  Be sure to avoid drinks that are made with pumpkin spice, white mocha, or caramel brûlée syrup.  In addition, the syrup used to make light Frappucinos is not vegan either. Outside of those specified syrups, just be sure to order your drinks without whipped cream, java chips, protein powder, or caramel drizzle, and you're good to go.  Seriously, you can make almost anything here vegan-friendly! Try a Soy Mocha Frappucino, a Pink Drink, or a simple almond milk iced coffee on your next trip in.  Many of the baristas are super friendly and will help you out if you have questions.

The Pie

Even our local campus favorite, The Pie, is vegan-friendly.  The pizza crust and sauce are naturally vegan, which makes ordering super easy! They offer Daiya vegan cheese as an alternative to traditional cheese, so you can make a ton of things on their menu vegan, even the Cheese Pull-A-Parts. The Pie even has a symbol next to menu items to show what pizzas are already vegetarian, but you can modify whatever you want to make it vegan.  If you want to build your own pizza, just add vegan cheese (or no cheese) and load up on whatever veggies you want (and fruits, because pineapple does belong on pizza).  If you don’t want or can’t get The Pie, many other national pizza chains are vegan-friendly, too.  You can order Papa Johns (with garlic sauce -- yes, it’s vegan!), Dominos (thin crust only), Little Caesars, or Pizza Hut (with the Thin ‘N Crispy, Hand-Tossed, or Salted Pretzel crust) with no cheese and just load up on toppings.

 

Eating vegan in 2017 is so easy! Getting rid of animal products in your diet doesn’t mean that you can’t eat anything but fruits and vegetables.  There are so many places that are vegan-friendly, and a quick Google search can help you find vegan options ANYWHERE.  I hope this list helps you to be able to eat at your favorite places while eating vegan! There is no need to give up any of your favorite foods -- being vegan just requires a little bit of modification.

 

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