A Guide to the Best & Most Delicious Vegan Junk Food
When you hear the word “vegan,” what images of food come to mind? A salad or a hot dog? You will be forgiven for thinking about a healthy crispy green salad.
But you are greatly mistaken if that’s the type of food you think vegans are eating. In the last two years, the vegan junk food revolution has been in full force.
Last year saw the release of the might Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger. Both have been incredibly successful with fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Dunkin’ Donuts, all now serving these meatless burger patties.
KFC launched vegan “chicken” nuggets. Pizza Hut launched vegan cheese pizza. Del Taco, Chipotle, Carl’s Jr., White Castle, Baskin Robbins, Wendy’s, and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse also jumped on the vegan fast food trend.
In the UK, Greggs bakery launched the vegan sausage roll, which was a nationwide hit. Subway launched a vegan sandwich. Costa Coffee launched a vegan toastie.
Additionally, supermarkets and home food brands have also jumped on the vegan junk food train.
I could list out all the new vegan junk foods for you, but it would probably take up the entire article. The point is, vegan junk food is now mainstream, and it is extremely popular. Not just with vegans, but everyone.
This article is a guide to navigating the vegan junk food world. So get your knives and forks ready!
Is it Vegan?
A common misconception about veganism is that it must be healthy. Vegan is NOT a diet. It is a philosophy and “way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
Read our article: “Why Go Vegan: A Simple Introduction to Veganism“
You will often hear people scoff at the idea of a vegan eating fast food. But veganism has never claimed to be a health-motivated movement. Vegans simply acknowledge that a well-planned and varied plant-based diet can be very healthy.
So, yes, vegan fast food is indeed vegan. It may not be healthy, but that is not important. The only thing that matters is that the food does not include animal ingredients.
Vegan Fast Food Cooking Methods
An initial issue with vegan fast food, specifically those from fast-food chains, is how vegan fast food is cooked. It was discovered that vegan burger patties were being cooked on the same grills as animal meat patties.
Some vegans were disgusted, and some vegans even tried to sue Burger King. Other vegans said it was no issue and that other vegans were just being pedantic.
There is no answer to this issue. It is based on how you personally feel about the situation. Those that do feel it is an issue can ask the restaurant to use a separate grill. If this is not possible, you most likely will have to do without your precious Impossible Whopper.
Recently, it appears that fast-food chains are coming to understand these issues. Many have already decided to only cook vegan meat on separate grills or deep-fat fryers.
Animal Testing of Vegan Foods
In 2019, we saw the rise of vegan burger giants Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger. One major issue for vegans was with Impossible Burger after they revealed that an ingredient in their burgers was indeed tested on rats.
This led to many vegans stating that Impossible Burgers are not vegan, and technically, they are right. It’s worth noting that this testing was only for the original launch of the burger. Impossible Burgers no longer test on rats.
It’s up to you to decide whether you still consider the company vegan or not. I would suggest that if you are happy to eat a vegan burger from the likes of McDonald’s, then you should have no issue in eating a burger whose original recipe was tested on animals two or three years ago.
Check the Front of the Label
When buying junk foods from the supermarket, always check the label. Most products now come with a label that says “Vegan,” “100% Vegan,” or has the certified vegan logo.
As well as the obvious ingredients such as meat, egg, milk, butter, and cream, you should always double-check for less well-known animal ingredients. You want to avoid:
- Albumen – eggs, milk, and animal blood.
- Bone char – animal bone ash, found in some processed sugars.
- Carmine or cochineal – red pigment made from crushed beetles, found in foods, supplements, and makeup.
- Casein – milk protein from a cow.
- Methionine – amino acid made from eggs or cow’s milk.
- Milk powder – powdered cow’s milk.
- Rennet – enzyme made from calves’ stomach, found in some cheeses.
- Whey – made from milk, found in most protein powder and some potato chips.
Search on an App
The best way to find if a product is vegan is to use the Is It Vegan? App on your smartphone.
This innovative app allows you to scan a product’s UPC code. It then analyzes the ingredients and tells you if it is vegan or not. Simple.
If you’re dining in a restaurant but are not sure if an item on the menu is vegan, just ask the waiter. Service staff in most restaurants are now informed about veganism.
You can also use the Happy Cow app to find restaurants nearby that are 100% vegan or have vegan options. Don’t be afraid to phone ahead and ask them what vegan options they have available.
The Best Vegan Junk Food
The Best Vegan Junk Foods in Fast Food Restaurants
Burger King – Impossible Whopper
Just like the regular Whopper but with an Impossible Burger patty.
Carl’s Jr. – Beyond Famous Star with Cheese
A big juicy vegan patty served with melted vegan cheese. Also, look out for their Beyond Sausage Biscuit and Beyond Sausage burrito.
KFC – Vegan Chicken Nuggets
When launched, these small crispy nuggets of heaven had people queuing outside of KFC for hours. Made with Quorn mycoprotein.
Chipotle – Vegan Burrito
Choose from a wide selection of vegan protein plus all the tasty extras to make a big fat vegan burrito.
Del Taco – Beyond Meat Taco
Del Taco is another fast-food chain to have embraced Beyond Meat. You can now get a vegan Beyond Meat taco, just be sure to ask for no sour cream and no cheese.
Subway – Beyond Meat Meatball Marinara
The Subway footlong classic has been “veganized” using Beyond Meat! Make sure you ask for no cheese and no mayo.
The Best Vegan Junk Food in Supermarkets
A small but delicious pie stuffed with plant-based chicken and cheese in a spicy buffalo sauce.
A hearty burrito stuffed with organic pinto beans and brown rice. Mixed with tasty veggies in a mild Mexican-style sauce.
Like chicken nuggets but bigger! This is the best of Gardein’s extensive vegan product line.
Choose from salted caramel clusters, coconut milk cookie dough, cashew milk dark chocolate truffle, chocolate cookies’ n’ cream, and so much more!
Big simple, beautiful, and delicious vegan sausages. Perfect for hot dogs or the BBQ. Just one of the many tasty Beyond Meat products you will find in the supermarket.
A pack of delicious crunchy vegan chocolate cookies. 100% organic.
Vegan Junk Food Snacks
When it comes to vegan snacks, you have those that are “accidentally vegan” and those that are made especially for vegans. “Accidentally vegan” simply means that the snacks are not specifically made for vegans, they just happen to have all vegan ingredients.
“Accidentally Vegan” Snacks
Check out these excellent candy snacks that are all 100% vegan.
- Big League Chew Bubble Gum
- Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy
- Charms Sweet Pops
- Cry Baby candy
- Fruit by the Foot
- Haribo Sour S’ghetti
- Hubba Bubba gum
- Jolly Rancher Hard Candy
- Mamba Fruit Chews
- Mary Jane candy
- Skittles – Original
- Smarties (USA Only)
- Sour Patch Kids
- Super Bubble Bubble Gum
- Swedish Fish
- Wonka Fun Dip
Chocolate & Biscuit Bars
Who says vegans can’t eat chocolate?
- Belvita Breakfast Bars
- Chocolove Dark Chocolate Bar
- Clif Bars
- Ferrara Chocolate Wafer Swirls
- Lindt Excellence Bars
- Nature Valley Granola Crunchy Bars
- Nutter Butter
- Smuckers Uncrustables
Pure salty goodness and all 100% vegan!
- Doritos – Spicy Sweet Chilli
- Fritos – Original
- Lays – Original & Barbeque Flavors
- Nabisco Grahams – Original
- Pringles – Original
- Ritz Crackers – Original
- Ruffles – Original
- Sun Chips – Original
- Synder’s of Hanover Pretzel Pieces – Jalapeno
- Takis – Fuego
- Triscuit – Roasted Garlic
Fortunately, a lot of your favorite breakfast cereals just happen to be vegan!
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Morning O’s
- Annie’s Organics Cocoa Bunnies Cereal
- Barbara’s – Corn Flakes, Peanut Butter Puffin, and Orginal
- Cap’n Crunch – Original, Berries, and Peanut Butter
- Cascadian Farm Organic – Original, Cinnamon Crunch, and Fruitful O’s
- Cheerios – Original, Multi-Grain, Apple Cinnamon, and Chocolate
- Cocoa Puffs
- Cookie Crisp
- Fruity Pebbles
- General Mills Fiber One Original
- Golden Grahams
- Kashi Organic – Vanilla, Strawberry, and Grain Puffs
- Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size
- Nature’s Path – Crunchy Maple Sunrise, Amazon Flakes, and Rice Puffs
- Alpine Spiced Cider
- Bolthouse Farms
- Celestial Seasonings – Cider and Teas
- Crystal Light
- Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate
- Kool-Aid Drink Mix
- Monster Energy Drinks
- Nescafe – Ice Java Iced Coffee Syrup
- Nestle Nesquik – Chocolate, Strawberry, and Very Vanilla
- Power Edge Energy Drink Mix
- Propel Fitness Water
- Red Bull Energy Drink
Made for Vegans Snacks
Candy is just for vegans!
- Goorganic Hard Candy
- Hammond’s Organix Mint Pillows
- Jelly Belly Organic Fruit Snacks
- Surf Sweets
- Torie & Howard Hard Candy
- Treehugger Gumballs
- Wholesome Delish Fish
- Wholesome Organic Bears
- YumEarth Gummy Bears
Delicious dairy-free chocolate purposely made with vegans in mind.
- Allison’s Gourmet
- Alter Eco
- Endangered Species Dark Chocolate
- Go Max Go Foods
- Obsessive Confection Disorder
- Plamil So Free Organic Chocolate
- Sjaaks Organic Chocolates
- Sunspire and Tropical Source
- Terra Nostra Rice Milk Choco Bars
- Whole Foods Brand – Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate, and Dark Chocolate with Almonds
Beautifully salty vegan goodness!
- Beanfields Chips
- Forager Project
- Late July
- Pig Out
- Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips
- Vegan Rob’s
If you don’t fancy any of the “accidentally vegan” cereals above, try out any of these purpose-made vegan cereals.
- Back to Nature Granola – Apple Blueberry
- ELAN Original Granola Cereal – Almond Pecan Walnut Coconut
- Envirokidz Organic Cereals
- Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 – Organic Sprouted Grain Cereal, Golden Flax
- KIND Healthy Grains Granola Clusters – Vanilla Blueberry with Flax Seeds
- Living Intentions Activated Superfood Cereal – Cacao Crunch
The vegan drinks industry is booming right now. You should be able to find any of these vegan drinks in good supermarkets.
- ALO Drink
- Balanced Nature
- Brass Castle Brewery
- Brew Dog
- Califia Farms
- Dash Water
- Frey Organic Wine
- Harvest Moon
- Koko Dairy Free
- Little Valley Brewery
- Love Raw
- Lumos Wine Company
- Mighty Bee
- Oatly – All Varieties
- Rice Dream – All Varieties
- Silk – All Varieties
- Soy Dream Non-Dairy Beverage – All Varieties
- Vigoraid – Chocolate and Vanilla
- Westbrae Natural Rice Drink – Plain & Vanilla
- WestSoy – All Varieties
- Whole Foods – Strawberry Banana Blueberry Smoothie Mix and Strawberry Banana Smoothie Mix
Vegan Junk Food Recipes
Not all vegan junk food has to be bought from a fast-food chain or supermarket. You can create your very own vegan junk food right at home.
One of the best aspects of veganism is that it forces you to become more creative in the kitchen. Here are some of the best vegan junk food recipes out there! Perfect for when you have friends over or just sat watching Netflix all on your lonesome.
Vegan Egg McMuffin
Recreate the famous McDonald’s breakfast favorite, the Egg McMuffin. This vegan version from Vegangela is perfect for any morning of the week.
Just like the sofrita you find in Chipotle but “veganized.” This fantastic recipe from Chef De Home will save you your next confusing trip to Chipotle.
DIY Big Mac
Another McDonald’s favorite that can be made right at home. This recipe from the boys over at BOSH is simply divine!
Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Carby and cheesy! The perfect mix for junk food. Don’t miss the opportunity to create this tasty vegan mac ‘n’ cheese recipe from Cookie and Kate.
Vegan Hot Dogs
Do you miss getting your mouth around a delicious hot dog every now and then? It’s ok, all vegans do! This vegan hot dog recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen has got your back.
Vegan Mocha Frappe
If you’re craving the Starbucks mocha frappes you used to down each morning, this recipe will help you create a vegan version. Check out the recipe from Delightful Adventures, it’s not that unhealthy either!
Vegan Chicken Nuggets
KFC may have launched their vegan nuggets, but not everyone has access to a KFC that is serving them. If that includes you, go over to Liv B and make her incredible vegan KFC style nuggets right now!
Gaz Oakley from Avant-Garde has created his very own McDonald’s style, Filet-O-’Fish’. It’s relatively simple to whip up and very tasty.
Vegan ‘Chicken’ Wings
Ok, so you’re probably not going to believe me on this one. But you can create vegan ‘chicken’ wings using cauliflower. Seriously, you can! Check out this vegan buffalo wings recipe from Minimalist Baker. Yummmm!
Is it Right for Vegans to Eat Junk Food?
After reading through all the vegan junk foods above, you may feel like veganism has lost its way. This is supposed to be a diet followed by healthy individuals trying to save animals and the world, right?
Well, you would be wrong. Not all vegans are healthy, and we don’t need to be healthy to be vegan. I’m not condoning eating junk food diets or making any of the foods above your diet staples. But there is nothing wrong with enjoying some junk food now and then.
The rise of vegan junk food is not detracting away from the vegan movement. It is simply leveling the playing field. The best way for more people to join the vegan movement is to make it possible for them to continue eating the same foods they were as a non-vegan.
So, yes, please enjoy some vegan junk food every now and then. It can’t all be salads, Buddha bowls, and pasta dishes.