As fast food has caught on to the meat-free hype, it's become easier than ever to try going vegetarian or vegan. Several chains now have substantial meals that don't rely hacking together a bunch of side or snack options. While there's still many big names that have yet to embrace a full-on veggie option, those that do are changing the fast food game as we know it.
Of course, not all of the vegetarian and vegan offerings out there are as dope as the others. Below are the 10 best that the industry has to offer, based on value, price, popularity, satiety, and how groundbreaking they have been in the world of fast food.
When making this list, only whole meals, or items big enough to be considered a full meal on their own, were considered. The items also needed to be available all or most of the day, meaning that virtually all breakfast items weren't included (we have a separate ranking on that category, however).
10) Burger King: MorningStar Veggie Burger
Burger King's veggie option is similar to their classic Whopper, but uses a MorningStar Farms veggie burger patty instead of ground beef. It's pretty filling on its own, and MorningStar is known for making plant-based substitutes (like their breakfast sausage). In terms of the burger, though, there's been plenty of superior replacements that have come around in recent years. While BK's version is still enjoyable, in terms of similarity to actual meat, it just doesn't stack up as well anymore.
9) Del Taco: 1/2 Pound Bean And Cheese Burrito
Sure, bean and cheese burritos aren't exactly the most exciting food item, but Del Taco rocks this at a solid price of just one buck, easily making this one of the most filling bang-for-your-buck burritos out there. This is the cheapest item on this entire list, but is still enough for a single meal. If that's not the definition of "value menu item," I'm not sure what is.
8) In-N-Out: Animal-Style Grilled Cheese
This is the meal version of the secret menu classic, cramming everything you love about Animal Fries into sandwich form. The richness of the cheese, Animal Sauce, and grilled onions help make this a solid entree option. Adding Animal Fries on the side? That's a clutch move as well.
7) Carl's Jr: Beyond Famous Star
The newest entry in the meat-free fast food category, Carl's Jr.'s take on the Beyond Burger is already drawing rave reviews. It's also one of the most expensive, but the revamped Beyond 2.0 patty provides enough satiety and flavor to make it worth getting one as a vegan or veggie burger option.
6) Wendy's: Cheese Baked Potato
This is the only "side dish" you're going to find on this list, and that's because the Cheese Baked Potato really packs in the calories. A single spud contains 440 calories, which rivals the energy you can get from some of the other items on this list. Wendy's Baked Potatoes are also one of the more iconic veggie options out there, meriting it a spot closer to the top of this ranking. Its lack of an entree option, though, means it falls outside the top 5.
5) Taco Bell: 7-Layer Burrito
When it comes to vegetarian and vegan options, Taco Bell has the widest spread by far. If you're looking to fill up at a solid price, though, the 7-Layer Burrito is the meal to target. At 510 calories for $2.50, this veggie burrito packs in a ton of flavor at an absolute bargain. It's not the biggest burrito on this list, but definitely keeps your stomach content.
4) Chipotle: Sofritas Burritos
The largest item on this list by far, as Chipotle doesn't mess around when it comes to building your burrito. Their trademark Sofritas have been a hit for vegetarians and vegans alike for years, and the plethora of additional toppings you can pile inside makes this one of the largest meat-free meals in fast food. It's also one of the most costly, given Chipotle's price range, but one burrito is easily big enough for two meals.
3) Five Guys: Custom Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Even this Californian has to admit that Five Guys wins in this category. The big reason their grilled cheese sandwich stands out is the ability to customize it with any of the regular toppings the chain has to offer. Getting choices like mushrooms, jalapeńos, caramelized onions, double cheese, and a whole lot more makes this grilled cheese stand out far more than In-N-Out's Animal-Style version.
2) Shake Shack: Shroom Burger
Shake Shack has the veggie burger everyone else will be jealous of when you flaunt it on your social media feeds. That's because it comes with built-in food porn: A flood of gooey, melted cheese packed in with a fried portobello mushroom. The humble mushroom sandwich from your standard dining spot gets a serious upgrade at Shake Shack, making it one of the best meat-free items in all of fast food. Only its lack of groundbreaking potential keeps it from taking the top spot on this list.
1) White Castle: Impossible Sliders
Sure, White Castle's sliders are small, but you're always going to order them in sets of two, three, etc. Combine that with the game-changing Impossible Burger, and you have one of the most pivotal meat-free meals the industry has ever created. It fills you up at a price that won't bust your pockets, and opened the floodgates for plant-based burger alternatives to begin sweeping into fast food. The Impossible Sliders are the current champion of meat-free fast food, and the gold standard all future vegan and vegetarian items will have to stand up to.