Have you ever thought about where you and your vegetarian keto buddies can eat on the go—want to meet up for fast food with friends or take a cooler-free vacation? You might be able to manage it if you can find vegetarian keto fast food.
Let’s face it. There aren’t many options available for vegetarian keto fast food, but you’ll find plenty of places selling fried chicken, burgers, fries and shakes, tacos, and pizza.
At first glance, it might seem disheartening. Take a closer look. Some fast-food joints are beginning to branch out to offer healthier eating options, and some can be tweaked to fit your needs.
We’ve listed some top options below so that you can stick to your eating plan and still have a great time. Please bookmark this page and use it to plan your next eating-out escapade.
1. No matter where you go, salads are the top options for vegetarian keto fast food.
Here are some best bets for you:
Zip into Zupas for amazing salads that you can customize
- Kale and Quinoa salad—at 480 calories for a half salad, you’ll still have to watch your carb intake. You could make a special request to leave off the blueberries, dried cherries, or quinoa to cut back on carbs.
- Nuts About Berries salad—Mixed greens, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cinnamon almonds with poppyseed dressing make this a house favorite. A half salad will cost you 310 calories. If you’re worried about how many carbs you’ll be spending, leave off some of the berries or the dressing.
- Mangoberry Salad with Mango Yogurt dressing—a half salad is only 240 calories. You can ask that some of the fruit be left off to stay within your carb limits.
- Most of the other salads contain cage-free chicken and other carbs, but you can request items like the California Protein Cobb salad without the meat. With its edamame, goat cheese, olives, avocado, and grape tomatoes, it’s still a delicious choice. (1)
Choose the side salads at burger joints.
Many drive-through burger joints sell-side salads. If you’re meeting a friend for a lunch catch-up chat, side salads are quick fixes with crunchy veggies. They can keep your mouth busy when you’re not talking so that you don’t dip into your friend’s fries.
If you’re worried you won’t get enough fat to keep your ketones high, consider taking a supplement like Left Coast MCT oil.
Here are a few fast food places that sell-side salads:
Some establishments sell salads that fit with your vegetarian keto fast food search.
For example, Apollo Burgers sells a Greek Salad. It has 460 calories and 16 net carbs—still high if you’re on a deficient carb diet, but doable if you plan well. The Greek Salad comes with romaine lettuce, red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, olives, carrots, oregano, and feta cheese. (6)
Salads with Omissions
If you want a salad with a bit more than just garden veggies, you can order specialty salads and let the cashiers know what you want to be left off the top.
Many drive-through establishments sell salads topped with chicken or corn chips. Tex-Mex places like Café Rio, Costa Vida, and Taco Time sometimes put tortillas, rice, and beans on their salads, as well, so make sure you pay attention when you’re ordering and be clear about what
2. Choose Cole Slaw instead of Chicken
You can order coleslaw instead of chicken at popular chicken spots like Popeyes, KFC, and Zaxby’s. One serving of Zaxby’s coleslaw runs about 140 calories. KFC coleslaw contains 30 carbs per serving. Depending on how many carbs you’re allowing yourself to eat, this could work for you. (10,11)
3. Pack up your power with Zupas protein bowls
Not everything offered by Zupas is vegetarian or carb-free. However, they do have some vegetarian options that can fit decently into your carb budget. Their protein bowls are an excellent option if you leave off the meat and eat half-portions.
The Thai Peanut Coconut bowl is your best bet. It’s got tofu and raw cashews for protein. Leave off the quinoa and eat a half-portion if you’re on a very low-carb eating plan.
4. Sip the Soups for a vegetarian keto fast-food fix
Soups are an excellent choice for cold weather or while visiting with friends. Take it slow and enjoy the flavors, and you might come away
both full and socially refreshed. Here are some options to try:
- The Cheesecake Factory: This two soups-of-the-day might work well. Caramelized Onion Soup is available on Mondays. Wild Mushroom Soup is available on Wednesdays. (14)
- Zupas: Best-bet soups for vegetarian keto fast food in this establishment include Tomato Basil, Roasted Veggie & Quinoa, Mushroom Bisque, and Wisconsin Cauliflower.
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has a French Onion soup.
5. Check out the Chinese places
It’s hit and miss with American Chinese food. Most entrees and sides are loaded with carbs, but if you pay attention, you might be able to find something that really works.
For example, Panda Express has an Eggplant Tofu entrée. You can also choose sides of steamed brown rice or mixed veggies.
6. Order veggie burgers without the bun
While veggie burgers are still up and coming in most establishments, a few places do sell them.
You can order them as-is and take off the bun or order it without the bun, to begin with.
Here are some places that sell veggie burgers:
- Burger King sells Morning Star veggies burgers.
- Apollo Burgers’ veggie burger is made from black beans and tomatoes, onions, and Leave off the Apollo sauce to keep carbs down.
- The Habit Burger Grill sells a veggie burger with sweet mustard, lettuce, tomato, and(17)
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has a vegan veggie burger that comes served in lettuce rather than on a bun. It comes with bottomless steamed broccoli, too.
7. Find the special features
Many fast food places have unique offerings that might fit if you’re in a bind. Here are some fun ones to try:
- Zaxby’s celery basket
- Chick-Fil-A’s superfood side(18)
- Taco Bell has a vegetarian Power Menu bowl with 52 net carbs—it may be a bit high, but if you eat a half portion, it might work. (19)
Eating out is difficult when you’re looking for vegetarian keto fast food, but it’s not impossible. It works best if you plan. If you’re ordering a simple side salad, supplement with an MCT oil to keep your ketone levels up.
Know where you’re going to go. Look at the menu online and choose what you’re going to have before you get there. If you’re really concerned, you can crunch the numbers with a nutrition calculator like the one found at nutritionix.com.(20)