Vegan Fast Food in Australia – What Can I Eat at Maccas?
Have you ever heard the saying ‘Always trust a junk-food vegan? They’re in it for the animals.’ True story – and luckily there’s a LOT of vegan fast food out there, and all the big players have upped their game when it comes to providing plant-based options. Some are doing it better than others, below you’ll find a list of what’s good for vegans in fast-food restaurants across Australia.
Just a quick note before I get into the juicy stuff, I know there’s a debate whether, as vegans, we should be supporting these fast-food giants in any way. There’s no denying the huge scale devastation they are causing to the planet, the animals and our health. But they run on one premise – and that is profit. If the demand starts rising for plant-based alternatives and vegan fast-food then this will become a bigger focus for their venues. If a restaurant launches a new vegan burger and no-one buys it, it will disappear off the menu. I believe we need to support these options when they arise, to help build a vegan future.
There are quite a few cruelty-free options at Nando’s – they sent us this list of vegan-friendly food. All of their sauces and bastings are also vegan.
- Creamy hummus with PERi-PERi drizzle and pita
- Veggie burger, wrap and pita (excluding the soft white bun which has an egg wash and contains milk – likely to change this midyear)
- Superfuel salad (remove the feta)
- Mediterranean salad (remove the feta)
- Chips, including with PERi-PERi salt
- Spicy rice
- Corn on the cob
- Garden salad
This is what KFC had to say, and the vegan fast food options available in their stores:
- Shaker Salad without chicken and dressing
- KFC stores use canola oil to cook chips
- KFC Chips – The salt mix on the seasoned chips and the actual chips do not contain any animal products. Our supplier/s of chips and seasoning have confirmed they are suitable for vegans
Please note that KFC does change product formulations from time to time, therefore the information above should be checked on a regular basis.
There is however the risk of cross contamination with utensils and potentially chips being cooked in same oil as popcorn chicken and nuggets
- Our supplier of dinner rolls and burger buns have advised that they contain only vegetable ingredients, however has not been certified by our supplier as being vegan
- KFC Tomato Dipping Sauce
- KFC Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce
If you’re in Sydney did you know about the new VFC – Vegan Friend Chick’n store in Newtown? Below you can see their Chick’n Waffle Cone. Now THAT is vegan fast food at it’s finest!!
Vegan Fast Food at McDonalds
Unlike the other restaurants I contacted who simply told me what was vegan-friendly, Maccas sent me 4 pdf files to interpret. I reckon of all the fast food eateries, McDonalds would be the one to avoid (and not just because they made me read over 30 pages of additives and preservatives) You’d be forgiven for thinking that a burger bun with some chips inside might be a safe option at Maccas. You would, unfortunately, be wrong, as the buns contain Emulsifiers 471 and 472e which can be of animal origin. You’re fine with the chips, as long as you don’t mind shared fryers. The hash browns are also vegan-friendly. In lieu of any kind of substantial food availability, you can smother your deep fried potatoes in the animal-free sauce options: the ketchup, sweet & sour, and mustard are all good to go. Oh and there’s a garden salad, which they haven’t found a way to sneak hooves/bones/fat into (yet).
If you’re looking for breakfast, the hotcakes are off the menu (containing eggs), although the hot cake syrup is vegan-friendly so you could drink that.
For dessert, you can have the McDonalds cookies, but they do contain lots of rainforest-destroying palm oil, so probably best avoided with an alternative. Which there isn’t. Unlike in Europe, where the apple pies are vegan-friendly, ours here in Australia contain whey powder from milk.
You could ask for a soft-serve ice cream cone without the ice-cream or flake, but the server might call security and ask you to leave. Which is probably the best idea.
Before you do head for the Golden Arches, a thought to keep in mind. Their fries contain the following ingredients – Potatoes, Canola Oil (Acidity Regulator (330)), Dextrose Monohydrate (Preservative ( 220)), Mineral Salt (450), Antifoam (Non-ionic polyalkylene glycol), Preservative ( 223).
A great rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, it’s probably not an ideal food to eat.
Mad Mex make it super easy to be vegan – everything on their menu can be veganised. You can also use their ‘nutritional calculator’ on this link, and filter by vegan choices. They also sent me this delicious looking menu. I’ll have one of each please.
Oporto have reported that “We currently do not have any vegan options available at our stores. However, we review our menu regularly and have been in heavy discussions surrounding increasing our options for vegetarians. This includes providing vegan options and burgers in the future. While product development can take a long time, we hope to reach that point.” So watch this space for updates. Ironically, Oporto’s slogan at the bottom of their email is ‘Feel Good Food’ Nobody dining at a restaurant with zero cruelty-free options should feel good about any part of it.
Grill’d have been doing some great things for vegans recently. Their CEO Simon Crowe has said that he hopes to have a 50% plant-based menu this time next year – you can read more here. Back in April they also hosted a national meat-free Monday campaign, where only plant-based foods were sold across their stores. Almost all of their current burgers can be made vegan thanks to their vegan cheese, vegan mayo and vegan pattie. Their Vegan Burger is called the Vegan Cheeseburger 2.0 but they also have Garden Goodness and brand new Beyond Burgers, which can all be made vegan on request.
Zambrero has lots of great vegan-friendly options clearly marked on their menu. They also had this to say – ” As our menu items can be customizable, the majority of our range is vegan-friendly. Not mentioned on our main menu is that we have vegan cheese and sour cream available as a substitute at a slightly higher cost.
Please note that our gluten-free black rice tortilla is not suitable for vegans.
Lots of options at Subway – here is their current vegan-friendly list:
For breads you can have:
- White Bread
- 9 Grain Wheat
- Malted Rye Bread
- Flour Wraps
- Multigrain Wraps (AU Only)
- Gluten Free Wraps
- Ciabatta (Panini trial restaurants only)
For Proteins you can have:
- Vegetable Patty
And for Sauces you can have:
- Sweet Onion
- Smoky Tomato Chutney (not relish)
- Smoky BBQ Sauce (Only available in AUS)
- Seeded Mustard
- Cranberry Relish
- Habanero Hot Sauce (Only available in AUS)
- Tomato Sauce (Only available in AUS)
- Hot Chilli
I love the Spicy Veg Trio, with vegan cheese, which only costs $7.95. Here is their full range:
- Vegan Avocado Veg: Vegan Mozzarella, Avocado, fire roasted peppers, mushrooms, red onion, capsicum, olives topped with spring onion.(4520kJ^)
- Vegan Margherita: Vegan Mozzarella & fresh tomato with oregano(4144kJ^)
- Vegan Spicy Veg Trio: Vegan Mozzarella, baby spinach, fresh tomato, red onion, topped with chilli flakes(3896kJ^)
- Vegan Cheesy Garlic Bread: Hot, creamy plant-based vegan cheese on crispy garlic bread topped with spring onion.(2910kJ^)
- Garlic Bread: Hot, traditional loaves of Garlic Bread(2227kJ^)
I’ve never been to Pizza Capers – but after checking out their vegan options I’m now tempted. There’s a sweet chilli vegan calzone that has my name on it!
Hungry Jack’s has this to say: Our Vegan Range uses 100% quality vegan ingredients, including plant-based vegan cheese and mayo. With our new Vegan Brekky Muffins to start your day, to the available-all-day Vegan Cheeseburger – we welcome Vegans whenever, wherever.
I’ve had the vegan burger a few times on the go and I’m a fan. The thick cut fries are vegan too so you can have a full meal.
Vegan Fast Food 5 Star – Oliver’s
I’ve saved the best for last. Oliver’s now have 26 locations in Australia, often found not far from the fast food giants. The founder and CEO Jason took the time to personally email me their list of vegan-friendly options (over 3 pages), and had the following to say:
“We are proud to have many Vegan options, my favourites are the Golden Rice Nuggets, and the Burrito Pita Pocket. At Oliver’s, we are about providing REAL Food for consumers on the highways of Australia, regardless of their preference or dietary requirement. “
Have I missed your favourite fast-food restaurant? Let me know in the comments and I’ll contact them and add them in. Please note – this information is all checked and correct at the time of publishing but things can change quickly, so if you’re unsure please check with the venue in advance. Thanks to Simplify Vegan for their brilliant list and tool to check vegan additives in foods.