Fast Food Gets a Vegan Makeover at These 12 Plant-Based Restaurant Chains

The vegan movement has reached a critical tipping point. Case in point: the abundance of vegan options in fast-food restaurants. That box has been checked. But now, we’re ushering in the era of all-vegan fast-food chains. It’s not just Veggie Grill anymore. Plant-based drive-thrus and fast-casual eateries slinging vegan beefy burgers and fries are cropping up across the country, and we are here for it. In fact, we’re so excited, we’ve gathered all our favorites below. But first, what do vegans even eat for fast food, exactly?

Jump to the chains

What do vegans eat for fast food?

Fast-food menu staples like fries (unless they’re cooked in beef fat, side-eye McDonald’s), soda, hash browns (again, check for beef fat), and burger buns are often vegan by default. This means that, for years, vegans have been heading to fast-food chains and getting creative with the menu. (Order a beef burger without the beef, and load it up with salad, sauce, and fries, you get the idea.)

But now, as fast-food chains have started embracing plant-based meat options, it’s getting easier than ever to enjoy fast food without the animals. There’s the easily veganized Impossible Whopper at Burger King, for example, as well as the Beyond Famous Star at Carl’s Jr. 

Does McDonald’s do anything vegan?

While places like the UK and the Netherlands have the McPlant burger, McDonald’s is still seriously lagging behind on vegan options in the US (for now, anyway). But that said, it is still possible to order vegan food from the country’s most popular fast-food joint. If you’re hungry and have no other options available, we’ve put together this guide to eating vegan at McDonald’s.

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But if you’re close to any of these vegan fast-food chains below (particularly plant-based McDonald’s copycat Mr.Charlie’s), the truth is, you won’t need the golden arches. In fact, before you cruise through any drive-thru of your nearest mainstream chain, check to see if one of these vegan fast-food locations is nearby. You won’t be disappointed.

The best vegan fast-food chains in the US

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1Veggie Grill by Next Level

Founded in 2006 in Irvine, CA, this national vegan chain was frying up plant-based chicken wings way before it was a thing. In fact, Veggie Grill predates the buffalo cauliflower trend.

In 2023, fans of the chain noticed several locations had mysteriously shuttered. From 30 locations across the country to just over 15, customers feared the end of Veggie Grill was near. Enter: Next Level Burger. In January 2024, Next Level Burger announced it had acquired its competitor, renaming the chain Veggie Grill by Next Level.

Today, fans can still enjoy Veggie Grill’s beloved menu, with discontinued menu classics expected to return, according to Next Level Burger CEO Matthew de Gruyter. So enjoy the mac and cheese, Sante Fe Chicken Sandwich, and sweet potato fries, Veggie Grill isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

Find it here

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Next Level Burger

After Next Level Burger acquired Veggie Grill earlier this year, together, the two chains comprise one of the largest vegan fast-food businesses in the world. At the time of writing, the two chains exist independently of one another; in other words, there are no plans for the two chains to merge into one for now. 

Fans of Next Level Burger can still walk into any location and find, well, next-level vegan burgers. Get a burger, perhaps even a chicken sandwich and crinkle-cut fries, but the Next Level Shakes are … well, you understand. 
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3 Native Foods

This fast-casual chain originally leaned more toward healthy bowls, salads, and sandwiches, but since its founder chef Tanya Petrovna sold the restaurant in 2012, the menu has steadily swapped out much of the greens, grains, and beans for stacked burgers and one-off fast-food specialty items. Patrons can still find some of Petrovna’s original creations in the form of the Taco Salad or Twister Wrap, but those looking for a more savory spin can opt for sweet potato fries, buffalo chicken tenders, and a BBQ Brisket Burger. In recent years, Native Foods has shuttered multiple outposts across the country, but today, residents of Palm Springs, CA; Glendale, CO; and Chicago, IL can still enjoy this vegan. Local tip: get dessert. The oatmeal creme pie and peanut butter parfait have outlasted the sweeping menu revisions and are the cherry on top of your vegan meal.
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4 Slutty Vegan

Founder Pinky Cole Hayes has established an empire in the greater Atlanta area with her Slutty Vegan concept. The menu of burgers, fries, and chicken sandwiches is sure to raise an eyebrow—both for the names and the over-the-top nature of each item. The fully loaded Super Slut and Philly cheesesteak-inspired Hollywood Hooker are just two examples of what you’ll find here. Expect juices to be running down your forearm and the corners of your mouth to be dotted with Slut Sauce by the end of your meal. 
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5 Mr.Charlie’s

Mr. Charlie’s is the vegan McDonald’s-lovers dream. With locations in Los Angeles, Venice, San Francisco, and Sydney, Australia, it offers its own versions of many of the fast-food giant’s classics, only this time, they’re made sans animal products. Featuring the Impossible Burger, try the Big Chuck, which comes with two vegan patties, three burger buns, cheese, pickles, onions, and special sauce. Or if Happy Meals used to be your thing, try the chain’s “Frowny Meals.” But unlike the name suggests, they’ll actually leave you feeling content and satisfied.
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6 Hart House

Hart House (comedian Kevin Hart’s own vegan fast-food chain) launched in Los Angeles in the summer of 2022. Like many of the options on this list, its menu boasts plant-based takes on fast-food classics, like double cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, nuggets, and crispy tots. Right now, there are four locations of the chain in the Los Angeles area, but Hart has big dreams for the brand. “The goal is to see Hart Houses right smack dab in the middle of where you would see a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a Chick-fil-A, [and] a Wendy’s [so] people can have the option for a plant-based taste, as well,” he told James Corden on The Late Late Show.

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7 Monty’s Good Burger

Joaquin Phoenix fans, keep your eyes off your phone while waiting in line at Monty’s—the vegan Academy Award winner has repeatedly been seen at the Koreatown location with partner and actress Rooney Mara. Positioned as the vegan In-N-Out, Monty’s menu offers a streamlined selection of single and double Impossible burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, tots, milkshakes, and a kale Caesar salad.
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8 Plant Power Fast Food 

Commonly referred to as “Plant Power” by locals, this burger chain launched in San Diego and made its way north. It now has 11 locations stretching from San Diego to Sacramento, some overtaking former non-vegan drive-thrus, and even Las Vegas. Expect a streamlined menu of vegan burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, nuggets, fries, and a few entrée salads and wraps for those in search of fresh options on the go.
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9 HipCityVeg

Get your vegan fast-food fix from morning to night at this East Coast vegan chain. The menu offers various classics such as handholds, fries, and shakes. Protein options range from Beyond Burgers to tempeh and maitake mushrooms, so there’s something for everyone. When browsing the menu, give the chick’n sandwich section some thought—this place does vegan chicken right.
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10 PLNT Burger

Looking for Top Chef quality food at a fast-casual price? Check out PLNT Burger next time you’re on the East Coast. The vegan fast-food chain was founded by chef Spike Mendelsohn—an alum of the Bravo hit culinary competition show, Top Chef. Expect vegan patties gussied up with dairy-free feta, savory mushroom bacon, caramelized onions, and other flavor-bomb toppings. Compliment your handhold with thick sweet potato fries, a PLNT chili bowl, and a tall cup of dairy-free soft serve. 
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11 Meta Burger

Small but mighty, this Colorado chain serves an award-winning burger. Ranked as the Best Vegan Burger by HappyCow and voted Best Plant-Based Burger at the SEED Food and Wine Festival, the nation needs more Meta locations. The housemade patty is just one part of the delicious whole—the thoughtful toppings really put this chain into the winners’ circle. For example, the popular Flatiron Burger features a homemade patty, grilled Brussels sprouts, grilled mushrooms, vegan cheese, and house steak sauce. Add a side of fries and extra sauce, and you’re in for a fantastic fast-food meal.
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12Mas Veggies Taqueria

An offshoot of Veggie Grill, this quick concept emerged as a carryout and delivery-only chain in 2020. The chain offers veganized versions of Mexican-inspired fast-food favorites including burritos, bowls, nachos, and tacos. You choose your protein (mushroom asada, chickin’ tinga, etc.), and the rest is loaded up with guacamole, pickled red onions, dairy-free sour cream, beans, and other accouterments.
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