8 Vegan Fast-Food Breakfast Options When You’re in a Hurry
Try these nutritionist-recommended vegan fast-food breakfast options for a nutritious and balanced start to your day.
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Vegan fast-food breakfast on the go
Fast-food restaurants used to be a meat lover’s paradise—and a vegan’s worst nightmare. Finding on-the-go breakfast options was a tough order. But things have changed since Burger King first told customers to “have it your way.”
Nowadays, you can find vegan breakfast options on fast-food menus—thank goodness.
An increased interest in plant-based eating may be behind fast-food menu changes. Six percent of Americans say they follow a plant-based diet, according to a report by the International Food Information Council. That’s up from 5 percent who reported this eating style the previous year.
“There is a growing demand and interest in plant-based foods for a variety of reasons,” says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, author of My Indian Table. “These include ethical, health, and sustainability reasons. This demand is naturally affecting the options available at fast-food restaurants.”
How to spot a vegan menu item
There’s a super-simple way to spot a vegan fast-food option on a menu: Look for the words “vegan” or “plant based” in the item’s name. Most restaurants include those terms to clue in diners.
For an item to be vegan, it must not contain any animal products. This includes meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, and even honey.
If you’re at all unsure if a food is vegan, check the restaurant’s website. Many fast-food restaurants post ingredient lists online.
Tips for healthier vegan meals
At fast-food restaurants, many menu items are fried, which adds calories and saturated fat. So resist ordering french fries with your breakfast.
And while more and more vegan menu items are being added to fast-food menus, many still lack vegetables and fruit. If the restaurant offers it, ask that lettuce and tomato be added to a breakfast sandwich—or order a side fruit cup so you’re adding produce to your meal.
Vegan fast-food breakfast options
We asked registered dietitians about their favorite vegan fast-food picks from nationwide chains. Here’s what to order during your next trip to the drive-thru.
At Chipotle, you can build your own burrito—and you can easily make it vegan.
“If you want to start your day with a breakfast or brunch that will energize you and your gut, try a make-your-own vegan burrito wrap,” says Joan Salge Blake, RDN, nutrition professor at Boston University and host of the nutrition and health podcast “SpotOn”.
“Personalize it by ordering it with protein-packed, flavorful sofritas, which is shredded tofu that is braised,” she says. “Also ask for black beans, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa.”
What makes this a good option? It’s packed with protein and fiber and will keep you full for hours.
“The protein in the tofu and healthy fats in the guacamole will give you staying power to fight hunger,” says Blake. “And the fiber in the beans and veggies will feed your gut with the prebiotics it loves.”
(Here are some other healthy fast-food options to try.)
Starbucks Classic Oatmeal
Yup, you can score a vegan oatmeal breakfast at Starbucks.
“Oatmeal is available at many fast-food places, including Starbucks, and you can’t go wrong,” says Lisa Young, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. “The soluble fiber in the oats helps to reduce cholesterol levels, and the fruits provide antioxidants.”
The oatmeal comes with brown sugar, dried fruit, and a nut medley. But you can order a version with blueberries.
(These are the benefits of eating oatmeal for breakfast.)
Peet’s Coffee Everything Plant-Based Sandwich
This completely vegan sandwich might be one of the most balanced vegan fast-food breakfasts available.
You’ll get a toasted everything bagel thin with Beyond Breakfast sausage, a Just Egg, and vegan cheddar—all for 380 calories. It packs a whopping 21 grams of protein.
(For lunch or dinner, try these tasty vegan burgers.)
Chick-fil-A Sunflower Multigrain Bagel
To ensure that this breakfast stays vegan, you’ll want to order the multigrain bagel sans cream cheese.
“People don’t think of bagels when they think about Chick-fil-A, but their multigrain sunflower bagel is so good,” says Lauren Manaker, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charleston, South Carolina. “It is a nutty and filling breakfast option that provides six grams of protein to give it some staying power.”
If you want something vegan to smear on your bagel, Chick-fil-A offers individual packets of strawberry and grape jelly. Pair your bagel with a fruit cup to add in extra nutrition.
Smoothie King Vegan Mango Kale
One of two vegan smoothies at Smoothie King, this pick contains bananas, kale, mangoes, apple juice, apple-pineapple juice blend, almonds, and plant-based protein.
If you go with the 20-ounce drink, you’ll take in 340 calories and 11 grams of protein.
(Try these fresh recipes and vegan smoothies from the book The Juice Generation.)
Dunkin’ Avocado Toast
Avocado toast is a new offering for Dunkin’.
“The avocado is spread over sourdough bread and topped with everything bagel seasoning,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Green Brook, New Jersey. “It provides 240 calories with six grams of fiber and six grams of protein. It’s a great option with a fresh feel that is not often found on fast-food breakfast menus.”
Since most Dunkin’ options are super light on produce, it’s nice to see a breakfast with avocado. You can pair the toast with an almond or oat milk cappuccino.
Taco Bell Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme, Fresco Style
Order the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme Fresco style to replace cheese and sour cream with fresh diced tomatoes.
“This is so delicious,” says Karolin Saweres, a Cincinnati-based registered dietitian nutritionist. “It contains beans and salsa and is packed with fiber.”
You can upgrade the breakfast to include guacamole, which offers heart-healthy fats. And if you’re a fan of spice, add jalapeño peppers too.
Wendy’s Seasoned Potatoes and Apple Bites
This isn’t exactly the most balanced meal, but when you’re in a pinch and find yourself at a Wendy’s for breakfast, you can order these vegan items.
Go with Seasoned Potatoes, which are skin-on taters dusted in black pepper and garlic powder. Just note that the potatoes are cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain milk and fish, so whether you order these will depend on how strict of a vegan you are.
Pair the potatoes with Apple Bites and some orange juice for some vitamin C.
Next, here are the best ready-to-eat vegan meal delivery options.
- Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of My Indian Table
- International Food Information Council: "2020 Food and Health Survey"
- Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist, nutrition professor at Boston University, and host of the nutrition and health podcast "SpotOn!"
- Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim
- Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charleston, South Carolina
- Karolin Saweres, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Cincinnati