It’s a truth universally acknowledged that fast food doesn’t tend to cater itself towards the vegan/vegetarian community. At best, they offer mediocre sides and, without prior knowledge of how to “hack” the meals to make it vegan/vegetarian, it is a struggle to eat well. However, things are changing! Veganuary may have paved the way for a brighter future for more accessible options at fast-food chains (that is if you ignore their extreme exploitation of animals and environment for profit). I tried a bunch of these new options so you don’t have to. I have opinions. Lettuce discuss.
*I am not vegan, just a vegetarian trying their best.*
1. McDonald’s Veggie Dippers
The first place I tried was, the classic, McDonald’s. I’ll be honest in saying that I only bought the veggie dippers as part of a happy meal so I could get the promotional Pokemon card (Alolan Exeggutor, if you were curious), but regardless, I still tried them, and oh boy was I not impressed. Now I’m not usually that picky of an eater and will eat almost anything, but it seems that this is where I draw the line. The idea of having genuine vegetables was nice, but the execution was poor. I never wanted to know what eating cardboard was like. Poor effort. 1/5.
2. KFC’s Vegan Burger
KFC has introduced a totally vegan burger made from Quorn, vegan mayo and lettuce. Perhaps a tad dry, but otherwise a solid effort. It’s a shame that it’s more expensive than the chicken options and the Quorn fillet doesn’t look too consistent among chains: my friend tried one at a KFC that looked like the promo pictures whereas mine at a different KFC (pictured below) looks like it’s been neglecting factor 50. Not bad. 3/5.
3. Subway’s Meatless Marinara
I still get anxiety when ordering at Subway but regardless I still went for the sake of journalism. It’s basically just vegan meatballs in marinara sauce and vegan cheese but oh my god. Subway is the only chain I went to multiple times because of how much I enjoyed it. On my sub, I asked for Italian bread, vegan meatballs, vegan cheese (toasted), black olives, cucumber and sweetcorn. I have no issues with the meatballs; they tasted like they should; not overly meaty, not eggy. Perfect. Vegan cheese is an acquired taste – theirs toasted was quite smokey (who would’ve thought) so if that’s not your thing best to avoid, but I found I liked the kick. Also, the staff were very helpful and informed no matter which Subway I went to; they would change gloves and utensils between handling my sub and other customers’ to avoid cross-contamination. Once, when I asked for the sub as part of a meal with a cookie, the worker made sure I knew that the cookies weren’t vegan. If the sub wasn’t good enough, the customer service was even better. A heavenly experience. 5/5.
4. Burger King’s Rebel Whopper
I’m a bit iffy about trying Burger King’s “plant-based” option—considering the patty is cooked on the same grill as their meat options, it just doesn’t sit right with me. It’s called “plant-based” and not vegan/vegetarian for this exact reason, perhaps defeating the purpose of introducing the option in the first place. BK argue it’s aimed towards meat-eaters looking to cut down on their meat consumption (yes do that it’s better for you and the environment!), but an empty argument since it’s still relying on the meat options for the flavour. It feels like they just wanted to jump on the bandwagon in attempt to stay competitive. Therefore, I didn’t try it. Not an ethical choice. -5/5.
5. Greggs’ Vegan Steak Bake
Does Greggs count as fast food? Not really. Am I still going to talk about it? Yes. Now, I am an advocate of the Greggs vegan sausage roll, so I was intrigued to see how their vegan steak bake compared. The verdict? Not bad. I personally didn’t like steak bakes much before anyway, so this probably has an unfair disadvantage. It’s definitely not terrible. Just not my thing. I think it’s the gravy that I wasn’t on board with – it just felt a bit too goopy. The vegan sausage roll is better. 2/5.
Perhaps it’s for the best St Andrews doesn’t have most of these chains.