A Vegetarian's Guide To Eating Fast Food

A Vegetarian's Guide To Eating Fast Food

Going meat-free doesn't have to be a sacrifice.
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I have been a vegetarian for over three years now, and even after all these years, I still struggle with knowing if something is acceptable to eat given my lifestyle choices without consulting the ingredients. Ordering from a fast food restaurant can be even more daunting at first. Once you know the tricks of the trade, though, it's a breeze to get in, out, and face first into the burrito, (veggie) burger, or whatever of your choice.

1. Burger King

After testing out a veggie burger this past year, BK has added the Veggie Burger to their regular menu. These are, however, just MorningStar burgers, meaning you could just basically go make your own by looking in the frozen food section of your local supermarket.

Burger King has elected not to pursue any official vegetarian certification for their products, but that can always change in the future. There are rumors of them expanding their veggie options by bringing some of their more popular items from their Indian chains state-side.

Personal Favorites: Veggie Burger (not really a fan, simply providing options.)

2. Chipotle

Chipotle is one of those debatable restaurants as to whether it could be considered fast food or not. My definition is: if you can order and finish purchasing your food in the same amount of time it takes to go through the drive-through, then it's fast food. The stylish sit-down setting is merely a bonus, no one is going to keep you there.

Chipotle has been one of the trailblazers in actively creating and promoting vegan options for their customers and has taken even greater steps in recent times to expand those options. Chipotle is also superior in the fact that all their vegetarian and vegan options are clearly labeled for customers to see.

Personal Favorites: Sofritas Bowl.

3. Jimmy John's

It's "Freaky Fast," need I say more? Jimmy John's is one of those restaurants that offers an extremely minimal number of vegetarian options. I think there were three the last time I ordered. That doesn't mean a sub speedily delivered right to your Russian History Class is off the menu, so long as you know what to look for.

Personal Favorites: Number 6, Number 13.

4. Subway

Subway is your guy, Jared Fogel scandal aside here. Customization is everything to a vegetarian. We don't just eat salads every day, after all. We need options, and thankfully, Subway will always have us covered here. So long as you avoid the meat, the world is your oyster.

Personal Favorites: six inch Veggie Sub (duh!)

5. Wendy's

Now, I have not been to a Wendy's in a while now, as they are pretty out of the way for me to get to from my current digs, but I do know that Wendy's is looking to be another veggie burger trailblazer. Since May 2015, Wendy's has been in trial testing for their black bean burgers in Columbus, Ohio. I have not had one personally, but reviews online have been pretty positive. It's up to you to make that decision for yourself, I guess.

Wendy's does have vegetarian options, but at this time, like BK once again, none of them a certified vegetarian. It basically just comes down to what you know about the food begin served.

Personal Favorites: Just a plain ol' baked potato, chocolate frosty (oldies but goodies.)

6. McDonald's

Unfortunately, Mickey D's does not provide any "specially certified" vegetarian or vegan options at this time either. In addition, many of their fried products, like french fires, are fried in the same oil as their meat products or flavored with beef tallow, no longer making them vegetarian.

Over the past couple years, there has been some controversy as to what exactly McDonald's is putting into their food. There was some speculation about their ice cream ingredients not being vegetarian (which, like, how?!) for a while there too. Since then, the fast-food giant has taken steps to increase transparency with their customers regarding their products. I cannot offer any suggestions, though, because I haven't eaten at McDonald's since I was about ten years old. However, if you really can't live without your mozza sticks, check out the ingredients list and information that they provide on their website, or even just ask.

7. Taco Bell

Saving the best for last, of course. In October 2015, Taco Bell became the very first fast food chain restaurant to launch a special menu of 13 dishes certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA). Not only that, but basically everything on Taco Bell's menu can be altered with any of the chains's 35 AVA-certified ingredients (26 of those are also vegan) to better suit your personal veg tastes and needs.

Delicious and affordable, Taco Bell is literally the best thing that has happened to vegetarians this year. As if the public couldn't love them more.

Personal Favorites: 7-Layer Burrito, Cantina Power Bowl.

Just because something is vegetarian doesn't mean it's healthy. This is something that all long-time vegetarians and vegans understand well. This is not a lifestyle that should be chosen simply to lose weight. The only way to do that is through the use of a balanced diet and exercise, let's be real, eating fast food in general is never considered "healthy." Being vegetarian means something different and accomplishes different things for everyone.

Our favorite fast food restaurants want to support and cater to the needs of their customers in whatever lifestyle choices they make, but that does not mean that these products should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle. These chains simply want to offer those customers with the same benefits that it's other consumers take a part of. Not to mention that it's a good business move.

Now go, Veggie Lovers! Enjoy life and eat out whenever you'd like without fear of breaking your environmental/political/ethical/religious commitment.

Did I miss something? Comment with your own favorite fast food vegetarian options!

Careful note: AVA vegetarian certified items are allowed to contain both egg and dairy products while vegan certified items have absolutely no animal by-products.

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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The Method Behind My Madness

How running is my favorite prescription

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High school put us in a box. I graduated with about 500 other students, so I guess my four corners were pretty big. By senior year, we thought that we had such control of our personality and destiny because of the seemingly vast experiences we had. However, we often forgot that we grew up beside these people, with few to none new faces. Everyone had their 'thing', whether it was sports, band, arts, or just being really academically gifted, everyone had a safe spot. A confined box of personality traits that were associated with their passion. I am not trying to put high school down in any way, I loved high school. I am more spectating how cool it was to have easily found a category that came with an identity. Because when you get to college, the box becomes spherical, a.k.a. the whole world is yours.

I remember during primary recruitment in middle August of my freshman year, I was asked what my passions were. And since I was months out of high school, I instinctively answered the question by talking about my love for soccer and memories from cross country. Obviously, I could not answer this for the rest of my life since the older I got, the farther away from my glory days I was. Luckily my dad had shown me that I could go on runs without having to chase a ball or to be on a team. Every morning during freshman year, I got up and explored on foot. That routine carried over to sophomore year and I was excited to find three other women in my house that had a burning itch to go for a run.

I am constantly asked why I run or how I do it. And honestly, I do not run for physical health reasons. Yes, I want my heart to be stronger and I hope to live a long healthy life, but I do not train for running yearly races, or to increase my speed, or to decrease my time. Being a health nut is far from my vocabulary and I have lots of things to prove it. Chicken tenders are my favorite food and I can eat chips and salsa like they are the main course at Mexican restaurants (feel free to fact check that with literally anyone!) Running is my new safe spot. People often say that I am crazy for going on daily runs, but I think that running keeps the crazy away. My mental health is pretty strong and I attribute that to running. Something about the combination of fresh air and sweating it out makes my problems not feel so big. For me, going on runs are catalysts for idea generating, solutions to mentally solving any problems, space from living in a house with 60 women (love you all so much), and my personal favorite: endorphins.

People always comment on how they would never run every single day or that running is not for them or that they cannot understand why I like to run. I know that they are just making conversation and not intentionally putting me down, however, sometimes I feel like I have to defend myself. So I have thought about it and come to a conclusion. Running cures all my bad moods and reduces my anxious mind. Concentrating on productivity, being a kinder human, and having an abundance of patience is all because of a little vitamin D and a lot of salty sweat. I am so fortunate to have found a recipe that is so simple to help me get on top of my life and destress from the hectic day. I genuinely hope that everyone finds the formula to keep away their gray days, and if anyone is inspired to go for a short jog after reading this, come find me and I probably already have my running shoes on.

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