Vegetarian Road Food - My Family Travels

Your family's guide to in-the-car fast food and on-the-road dining the meatless way.

According to a 2000 Vegetarian Resource Group Roper poll, 2% of children between the ages of 6 and 17-years-old are vegetarians (eating no meat, poultry or fish), as are 2% of adults.  Tofu, grains, beans, seeds, and greens (high in essential protein, calcium and iron) may be part of your family’s at-home diet.

A 2006 poll by the U.S.D.A. found that Americans eat one-third of all meals away from their homes. But we all know road food is rarely vegetarian or nutritious.  Some exceptions among the fast food restaurants:

Taco Bell serves vegetarian bean burritos and bean tacos, and beans can be used to replace meat in other selections, on request.  Vegans (who eat no animal products, including dairy) may order everything without cheese.

Wendy’s salad bar offers a large selection of vegetables and legumes. Or, choose a baked potato with non-meat toppings.

McDonald’s listens if you ask for a “Big Mac hold the burger” then add extra lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. Skip the fries because they are flavored with beef. Their variety of salads offers other options.

Burger King offers a meatless Veggie Whopper upon request and the BK Veggie, a patty made with veggies, grains and spices, served with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc.

Subway serves the Veggie Patty, a non-fat, vegan burger with your choice of bread and fixings, and the Veggie Delite, a totally vegetarian sub.

There are also signs of culinary enlightenment among the “slower” fast food restaurants, according to chain restaurants are found a little bit off the highway, usually in malls.

Applebee’s has nearly 1,800 restaurants where you can substitute celery and carrot sticks with ranch dressing for french fries.  Steamed vegetables and applesauce are other favorites, especially for young vegetarians.

Chili’s serves steamed vegetables also as well as — of course — a variety of bean dishes, some made without animal products. 

At Legal Seafoods, skip the marine creatures and order their yummy brown rice, grilled vegetables, salads or corn. Similarly, Red Lobster has many non-meat and non-seafood options.

Since you never know when you have to fend for yourself, be sure to pack instant soup packs and dried fruit snacks. They are a travel essential when dining options are limited “for miles.” And, don’t forget, there’s always Pizza!

For travel and dining information online, check out The Vegetarian Resource Group and (with listings from all over the world!)

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