Chipotle’s deal-heard-round-the-world, which promised a free burrito, bowl or salad if you tried their meat-free sofritas on Monday, did exactly what it was supposed to: got a whole lot of people to realize sofritas are actually really good. Chipotle chose to do what other restaurants have shied away from: put its vegetarian option out there as a featured, promoted item, not just a lone line on a menu for the vegetarians out there to latch on to for dear life. Once upon a time, there was no need for restaurants to cater to their meat-free eaters, because socially it was a laughing matter: rabbit food! Ha! But Chipotle has recognized that limiting or cutting meat out of a diet entirely is no longer a hippie-tie-dye-fashion thing, but an ever more popular lifestyle choice for taste, moral, environmental, or health reasons. Hats off to you, Chipotle. But don’t worry: until the rest of the takeout world catches on, you don’t have to limit yourself to salads and sad, patty-free buns with a slice of American and a lone pickle. There are plenty of other meat-free ways to treat yourself to a quick lunch, if you know where to go. That’s right, vegetarians, put down the meal-made-entirely-of-french-fries and rejoice: the veggies, soy, and beans are coming.
Taco Bell doesn’t offer much on the menu to suit a vegetarian’s needs, and many people have suffered through their friends’ late-night craving with a side of chips and cheese and an unsatisfied stomach. Needlessly. Because almost anything on the Taco Bell menu can be made with beans to substitute meat, and if you’re using the Taco Bell mobile app, you can even swipe to select that option easily. That’s right: Doritos Locos tacos, all kinds of nachos, even the things you can’t really describe or identify, like a crunch wrap, can be made without beef or chicken. And no, Taco Bell beans are no longer made with lard — now it’s soybean oil instead, making them both properly vegetarian and, in fact, vegan.
Did you know Burger King makes veggie burgers? No, you probably didn’t, because it’s not a heavily advertised option. Still, Morning Star patties are available to substitute on most of their sandwiches, and they’re even quite delicious. While McDonald’s has yet to jump on board the vegetarian patty option, you can still get your burger fix at the King.
In-N-Out’s secret menu is fairly widely recognized, and animal fries have never let us down yet. But many people assume a grilled cheese will be a sad show of melted orange goo between two pieces of white toast. Not so; at In-N-Out the grilled cheese is a thing of beauty, packed with lettuce and tomato and their special secret sauce, and you won’t even miss the meat patty. It’s even possible to get it made protein style, with no bun, but seeing as that amounts to some cheese and tomato wrapped in lettuce, we don’t highly recommend it.
Steak N’ Shake
Steak N’ Shake does, as a matter of fact, offer more than just steak (and shakes)! They’ve added a new menu item in the Veggie Melt with Portobellos, a sandwich made with cheese and guacamole and all kinds of delicious things, entirely meat-free. In fact, it’s a hearty enough option that it may even tempt your omnivorous friends into trying a bite without whining. Mmm, victory.