Some days you come home after work and feel ready and inspired to cook up a new, delicious plant-based dinner using the Food Monster App and on other days, you might feel like taking the easy route — like, really easy. We’re talking about being at a point where making a box of vegan mac and cheese or heating up a frozen entrée is just a little too much effort and you wish you could just grab something quick from a fast food chain. We’ve been there. We won’t judge.
So, what’s somebody who’s trying to eat more plant-based meals to do? In the past, vegan options at fast food and grab-and-go spots were few and far between. But these days, consumers are moving away from meat and dairy while also seeking out less processed foods. For example, only one in five Millennials has tried Big Mac, so McDonald’s has been trying to reel in these customers with more “natural” options such as cage-free eggs, antibiotic-free chickens, and “fresh” beef in some regions. We can also see a response to the demand for fresher, healthier options in restaurants like Taco Bell, which has an entire page on their site dedicated to how to order veganized versions of favorite menu items (sadly, their rice is no longer vegan) and Chipotle, with their spicy shredded tofu aka, sofritas. For even more vegan options at fast food restaurants, you can check out this handy guide.
While we may not have a 24-hour vegan drive-thru like Canada, vegan options for fast food are just getting better and better. Here are five of the most recent happenings in the plant-based fast food space:
1. The Impossible Burger Comes to Bareburger
2017 has been a big year for the Impossible Burger, famously known as the vegan “burger that bleeds.” Developed by plant-based food company Impossible Foods, the Impossible Burger patty is made from textured wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, and heme, an iron-rich compound that gives the burger its realistic, meaty flavor. These ingredients create a burger that sears like a beef patty, right down to the crispy, browned exterior and juicy pink interior. Late last year, this meat-free burger started its restaurant journey on the menu of several high-end restaurants like Momofuku Nishi, Crossroads Kitchen, and others. But in early March, news broke that for the first time ever, the Impossible Burger would finally be coming to a chain, starting with organic burger joint Bareburger. We know that this is only the beginning: Impossible Foods CEO Patrick Brown plans to bring the Impossible Burger to even more restaurant chains in the near future. With the help of their new large-scale production facility in Oakland, California, a future where we can grab a vegan burger from any chain is closer than we ever thought possible.
2. White Castle Debuts Limited Edition Black Bean Sliders
In 2015, White Castle partnered with Dr. Praegers’ to add 99-cent veggie sliders made from healthy, whole foods ingredients like zucchini and corn. At the time, the company released a statement, saying that, “We are committed to listening to our customers and keeping up with changing tastes by developing new menu items.” Two years later, it looks like the fast food chain is still committed to giving their customers what they want because they’ve added a new plant-based option to their menu: the black bean slider! Their newest addition to the menu features a vegan black bean patty paired with sweet Thai sauce. Although these sliders were available for a limited time only, it’s a victory worth celebrating. After all, how many special menu items that aren’t plant-based do we see added to fast food menus each year?
3. Pret A Manger Adds 12 New Vegan Options
Pret A Manger USA/Facebook
If you live in New York, Boston, or Chicago, then you’re probably already familiar with Pret A Manger, a chain that features organic coffee and grab-and-go options for soups, salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Unfortunately, unless you live in the UK and can stop by their all-vegetarian location, Pret’s plant-based options have always been limited to basic salads and some breakfast options, but thanks to what is likely a recognition in the growing consumer demand for meatless options. Pret recently updated their menu to include 20 new vegetarian items — and 12 of them are vegan. As exciting as this is, Pret is not just targeting the vegan and vegetarian consumer base; the new menu is being marketed as #NotJustForVeggies and the company wants everyone — vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters — to try something from their new menu.
4. Vegan Restaurant By CHLOE. Takes Over the U.S.
You may have read about the recent controversy surrounding the recent split between chef Chloe Coscarelli and By CHLOE. This all-vegan, fast-casual restaurant chain serves classic American fare and opened in partnership with mega-hospitality company, ESquared. According to some sources, ESquared had planned to open restaurants under the By CHLOE. brand that would feature meat on their menus — a claim that has since been refuted by By CHLOE. co-founder and director Samantha Wasser. With all of that aside, what started as a little fast-casual spot for great vegan food has rapidly transformed into somewhat of a food empire. By CHLOE. has expanded with six locations (and one dessert shop) across NYC as well as cities like LA, Boston, and a soon-to-be location in Providence. According to Wasser, “We look forward to continuing to grow the by CHLOE. brand and hope our customers will come along for the ride.”
5. All-Vegan Restaurant Chain Veggie Grill Receives Funding For a Nationwide Expansion
Veggie Grill is an all-vegan fast-casual chain based on the West Coast that has been cooking up delicious vegan burgers, meat-free “wings,” and other drool-worthy plant-based creations without preservatives, trans fat, and excess salt, for over 10 years. Late last year, news broke that the company received a $22 million infusion of capital from investors — meaning that they will soon be expanding with locations in the Midwest and East Coast. What’s interesting about Veggie Grill is that in spite of their menu being completely vegan, approximately 70 to 80 percent of their customers are neither vegan nor vegetarian. So, what’s happening here? In recent years, we have seen a rise in sales for healthier, fast-casual chains — an interest that is likely being driven by the fact that people than ever are choosing to leave meat off their plate more frequently. Veggie Grill’s expansion is yet another sign of the times; whether you’re cooking at home or going out to eat, people want to have the option to choose healthier, plant-based food.
We may not be able to order a vegan veggie burger at McDonald’s yet, but with options like these, we’re looking forward to what the future holds.
It may not be fast food, but if you love cooking plant-based foods, we highly recommend checking out the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone. With over 8,000 vegan recipes (and over 10 new recipes added daily), you’re going to find something you love!
Lead image source:Veggie Grill