New Leaf: Vegetarian and vegan fast food options

By Lauren Belcher |

Once you make the decision to become vegetarian or vegan, you typically have to eliminate fast food from your diet. But, you don’t have to.

The fast-food chains are finally catching up to the times and providing more options. So whether you are a full-blown vegan, a softhearted vegetarian, a person who wants to reduce their meat intake or anything in between, you now have options. If the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is not an option, you can at least reduce the amount of meat you consume.

There are many reasons why a person chooses to become vegetarian or vegan. Some people, like me, cite not wanting to support the inhumane treatment of factory farm animals. Others may make the decision for their health and well-being. Regardless of why you make the choice, there are environmental benefits.

“The meat industry is very wasteful of natural resources. An inherent problem with eating meat is that an animal must be fed roughly 10 pounds of plants to produce one pound of meat. Therefore, much more food is consumed to support the animals than would be needed if more people were vegetarians,” said Gabe Bronk and Arthur Su in The Environmental Benefits of Vegetarianism, an article on

I wouldn’t recommend making these restaurants your first choice if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle. But, as college students, sometimes we cannot avoid the call of our favorite fast-food eatery. But, while delicious, it’s next to impossible to know for sure what you’re eating. Right?

Well, that’s not so true anymore. New legislation now requires these restaurants to post all the ingredients in their meals. One of the organizations behind this mission is the Coalition for Responsible Nutrition Information. The CRNI says they think it’s important for people to know what they are eating while dining out. People have a right to see the nutritional information before they make the choice to consume.

So now you can be sure you’re getting real evidence that the food is truly creature-free. But who wants to look through pages of nutritional charts for hours on end? Lucky for you, I did. And I made a list of everything you can and cannot eat at these restaurants. Feel free to cut these out and keep them in your wallet as your personal fast food guide.

By the way, there are so many types of vegetarians out there, so for the purpose of this guide, we are assuming that:

  • Vegetarian means there is no meat, but there may be animal byproducts.
  • Vegan means there are no meat or animal byproducts.

DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee that these foods will be vegan or vegetarian after being fried. Everything is judged before the fryer, which will be referred to as “BF” hereafter.

Click image below to download and print your personal guide:

Lauren Belcher is Managing Editor for The Gargoyle. In her column, New Leaf, she introduces environmental issues and offers ways to fight environmental destruction. She is a Communication major and Environmental Science minor at Flagler College.

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