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Vegetarian Journal Cover

Vegetarian Journal


Jan/Feb 1998
Volume XVII, Number 1

Vegan Menu Items at Fast Food and Family-Style Restaurants, Part II

By Jeanne-Marie Bartas

This page has been modified due to numerous changes to the previous information in our Guide to Fast Food.

(Part I of this article appeared in the Nov/Dec 1997 issue of the Vegetarian Journal.)

Food served in restaurant and quick service chains has become a mainstay in the North American diet. Vegetarianism is also becoming increasingly popular. Where do these two trends meet?

We surveyed over one hundred fast food, casual theme dining, and family-style restaurant chains, as well as several quick-service food chains to find out the current answer to this question. Over seventy-five chains responded with the intent to show that their establishments can be vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.

Part I of this article appeared in the November/ December 1997 issue of Vegetarian Journal. Readers who would like to obtain a copy of Part I can send $3 to VRG, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

During the research for this update, we were glad to learn from quality assurance managers of several restaurant chains that many individual consumers contact them for information about their menu offerings. Thus, several chains had already conducted research into their ingredients by contacting their ingredient suppliers. As a result, many responses to us were ready-made. This shows that individuals can and do make a difference.

The most notable example of this occurred in the case of Wendy's. During a phone conversation, a nutrition specialist informed us that someone recently called to inquire about the gelatin in the Reduced Fat/Reduced Calorie Garden Ranch Sauce. The nutrition specialist told us that because of this inquiry, she contacted the supplier and requested that the gelatin be taken out of the sauce. The supplier agreed to the request. The new sauce should now be available in Wendy's restaurants.

When you talk to a customer service representative or a quality assurance manager about the sources of an ingredient, such as natural flavors or mono- and diglycerides, you are educating people about the concerns of vegetarians and vegans. You are helping the next person who inquires about that ingredient, too.

Many chains are exploring the use of ingredients which are economical and acceptable to all guests, including vegetarians and vegans. For instance, during the research for this update, we learned that almost all restaurant chains use all-vegetable shortening for frying. However, a few still do use an animal-vegetable shortening blend. Many quality assurance managers told us that the avoidance of animal fats in their recipes and preparation methods was now standard due largely to consumer demand.

Remember that restaurants often change the ingredients used in dishes. You may want to confirm this information when dining out. Also, if you learn of any corrections, please let us know.

Please note that this list is in alphabetical order. The first few chains listed below responded too late for us to include in Part I of this article, which included restaurants falling between Applebee's and Jack in the Box.

This page has been modified due to numerous changes to the previous information in our Guide to Fast Food.

Sample listing:

PIZZA HUT: Pizza Huts Thin n Crispy and dessert crusts are vegan. The Pan, Hand Tossed, and Stuffed Crust contain unspecified enzymes. Additionally, the Pan contains whey and the Stuffed contains mozzarella with unspecified enzymes. The Bread Sticks contain cheese with unspecified enzymes and the garlic spread contains butter flavor. All of the enzymes used in the cheeses at Pizza Hut are of unspecified sources.

The regular pizza sauce is now vegan. It no longer contains beef flavorings. The sweet pizza concen-trate sauce contains Romano cheese and buttermilk. The spaghetti marinara sauce is also vegan. However, there is a meat-based marinara sauce as well. Verify which one is being used. The Big New Yorker sauce contains cheese, cream, and butter. The Honey Mustard sauce contains eggs and honey. The White Pasta sauce is not vegetarian and contains chicken flavor and fat, as well as cheese, whey, milk, and cream. The Fajita sauce contains honey, chicken meat and fat, and whey. The Taco Bean sauce contains beef flavor. The pasta at Pizza Hut is vegan.

The sandwich cheese contains Swiss, American, and cheddar cheeses (all made with enzymes) and cream. The hoagie bun contains unspecified enzymes.

The Italian and French dressings are vegan. The blue cheese dressing contains enzymes, egg yolk, sour cream, and natural flavor. The ranch and buttermilk dressings contain cultured buttermilk, egg yolk, whey, and natural flavor. The Romano dressing contains cheese, egg yolk, and buttermilk powder. The creamy cucumber dressing contains nonfat dry milk and sour cream powder. The Thousand Island dressing contains natural flavorings, Worcestershire sauce, which usually contains anchovies, and egg yolk. The Creamy Caesar contains anchovies, eggs, and cheese. The garlic Parmesan mayonnaise dressing contains eggs, cheese, and natural flavors. The fat-free ranch contains whey, skim milk, and adipic acid.

The dessert pizza crust, cherry topping, and icing are vegan. The dessert pizza blueberry and apple toppings contain natural flavors. The dessert pizza crumb topping contains milk, mono- and diglycerides, and natural flavor.

Order a copy of the Guide to Fast Food now!
Ordering Information

The Vegetarian Resource Group has been providing information on vegetarian food offered at restaurant chains for over sixteen years. Readers should let us know if they hear of any new vegetarian items being offered at restaurant chains.  Write to The VRG at POB 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Our e-mail address is

To order a copy of The Guide to Fast Food send $4 to VRG, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. You can also call (410) 366-8343 to join VRG or order books with a Mastercard or Visa card. You can also order online from our catalog .

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

This article was converted to HTML by Stephanie Schueler

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