I tried to eat only vegan fast food for a week — and my failure revealed one of the industry’s biggest mistakes


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vegan fast food 2Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Being vegan in New York City is hardly a challenge. Most restaurants now have vegan-friendly options on their menus, and affordable vegan restaurants are popping up all over the five boroughs. In the three years I’ve been vegan, I’ve found that most restaurants and grocery stores have a lot of options readily available — except for fast food.

Taco Bell and White Castle seem to be the only fast-food chains actually working on meeting the growing demand for food that’s free from animal products. According to a study by market-research firm GlobalData, the number of Americans who choose to follow a vegan diet has increased from 1% to 6% since 2014.

The population of vegans, vegetarians, and people who are simply trying to eat less meat is growing rapidly, and most fast-food chains are doing little to nothing to make a vegan lifestyle more accessible.

To see which fast-food chains are best prepared to keep up with the growing demand for vegan food, I tried to eat only vegan fast food for five days. My rules were simple: eat only at fast-food chains, and eat three meals a day.

Here’s what happened:

This is the only vegan-friendly breakfast option at McDonald’s, and I made it about three bites into the oatmeal before tossing it out. McDonald’s oatmeal has nearly twice as much sugar as a Hershey bar and more than 300 calories per serving. It was sickeningly sweet and packed with sugar — I couldn’t stomach it that early in the morning.

The salad was plain and disappointing, and it had to be made twice because the first time it still had cheese on top. Wendy’s has tested a black bean burger, but unfortunately, it isn’t available anywhere in the Northeast.

Taco Bell has the most vegan options on its menu out of all the popular fast-food chains. It definitely was the most filling thing I ate all day.

After day one, I realized that eating the right amount of nutrients would be nearly impossible unless I wanted to snack on french fries all day. It was an unhealthy start to the week, and I was still hungry at the end of the day.

Day 1 Total: 

Calories: 687

Fat: 15.5g

Sodium: 1146mg

Sugar: 36g

Protein: 17g

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SEE ALSO: 13 popular fast-food menu items that are surprisingly perfect for vegans


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