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Limited Options in a Fast Food Nation

The BK VEGGIE® Burger.
The BK VEGGIE® Burger.

It is the second time in as many weeks I’ve run into a fast-food dilemma while running errands for hours. This time, I was out for three and a half hours, mostly dealing with home- and car-related stuff. (Am I the last person on earth to find out you can get funky-looking keys made at Home Depot? Sky flipped when I handed her a leopard-print house key.)


I spent hours driving from pillar to post, getting two new tires – couldn’t get just one to replace the left-front tire that totally pancaked on me Wednesday, because the right-front was in bad shape, too – buying dog food and attempting to get extra keys made for the house and both cars.  (Am I the last person on earth to find out that if you drive a Chrysler, it costs $100+ to have a key copied because of some stupid little computer chip? Needless to say, I still hold the sole key to my car.)

By noon, my 7 a.m. oatmeal was long gone, but I still had a few stops to make. I was surrounded by fast-food places, so it would have been easy to find something passably healthy, but only if I were eating meat. A McDonald’s side salad would have been good, but difficult to handle. “Woman Killed While Trying to Eat Salad Behind the Wheel. Police blame elusive cherry tomato.


Taco Bell? There’s nothing appealing about a bean burrito. KFC? Arby’s? Chik-fil-A? Again, there was a Subway, but it didn’t have a drive-thru. Wasn’t sure if Wendy’s still sells baked potatoes, but again with the driving/eating issue. I ended up doubling-back to McDonald’s and ordering fries and a Diet Dr. Pepper.

Pathetic, I know, which is why I’ve spent the past hour googling “fast food vegetarian.”  I limited my search to only places that have drive-thru windows. Here’s some of what I found:

·        At Taco Bell, you can substitute beans for meat in any dish free of charge.

·        Sub shops, which have at least one veggie sub on the menu. I’ve never seen a drive-thru Quizno’s, but I know where there’s a drive-thru Subway. Unfortunately, I was nowhere near it at the time.

·        Burger King has a Veggie Burger. I remember I tried someone’s veggie burger years ago, and it was awful. This one, though, is by Morningstar Farms, and I buy those products all the time, so maybe it’s quite good. I’ve never been a fan of Burger King and haven’t been to one in years, but guess what? I’ll be going there all the time, now.


·        In Canada, KFC experimented with a tofu “unchicken” a few years ago. Go figure.

Not much to go on, but at the same time, I rarely go to fast-food joints, anyway. Even if you’re not avoiding meat, these are good alternatives to try.


I will reassess this vegetarian thing around the end of October, but really, I think I’m in it for the long haul, save for the occasional, intentional slipup.

I'm not telling you, 'Never eat a hamburger.' Just eat the good ones with real beef, you know, like the ones from that mom-and-pop diner down the street, … And it's so good that when you take a bite out of that burger, you just know somewhere in the world a vegan is crying.  ~  Homer Simpson


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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

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