Vegetarian fast food: the revolution over the past decade

Vikram Deo

, Food, Lifestyle

Vegetarian fast food made its appearance in America and became quickly popular. Today burgers and doughnuts are as regular as bread and cheese, but the experience in the fast-food stores underwent drastic changes over the years. One main reason is the evolution of exciting and innovative new fast food items.
Typically, commercially designed cuisines are for teenagers. But the changes in food choices and the evolution of fast food new items have expanded the demand-side demographics. Also, healthy servings are attracting customers who normally avoid these stores.

Diverse new vegetarian fast food items

Initially, vegetarian fast food menus were just pizza, doughnuts, and burgers. Slowly, Mexican items started to become popular in the USA. And today, diversity is not only visible but also very large. You can order sandwiches, fresh salads, Frankie, and even exotic, Mediterranean, and Chinese food.
Some of the best-known brands were Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, and KFC. Today, you can choose from McDonald’s, Subway, Wendy’s, Chipotle, and The Cheesecake Factory. All these brands offer their unique new fast food items. A variety of menu choices await discerning Instagram customers.

New vegetarian fast food items are not children-specific

In the past, all the new vegetarian fast food items were for children or at least marketed to attract the children. And the brands did become popular by targeting the kids’ market segment. Even the early ads for various products were very much child-oriented only.
But gradually, the calorie content in the menus got calibrated. And today, customers can choose tasty and nutritious food with great ease. Consequently, the dependence on child customers has come down. There is fewer kids’ targeting, although these brands still tie-up with movie companies or offer kid goodies.

Longer And New Vegetarian Fast Food Items

Initially, the brands’ menus focused mainly on their USPs. Burger King, for example, was famous for deluxe burgers. While bigger players like McDonald’s had a much larger menu. They offered ham and cheese choices, along with fries, shakes, and other drink options.
But gradually, fish, chicken, and other breakfast options caught up. They included oatmeal, yogurts, coffee drinks, etc. To stand apart, the companies innovated with their specialty menu picks. These included soft flavors, roasts, deluxe and dollar menus. Staple options also become popular soon.

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New vegetarian fast food items with free range eggs

Conscientious buyers were always wary of fast-food menus. They are very cautious about the supply chain and raw material sourcing. Animal cruelty entered the customer’s consciousness too. So, the brands started assuaging these feelings by relying on free-range animal and dairy items.
Large brands need to serve billions of eggs every year. So, they partnered with small farmers for free-range products. Customers today enjoy their eggs and chicken in a guilt-free manner. The cage-free supplies enriched McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Subway, Wendy’s, and others’ social responsibility.


Fast food stores are not famous for environmental protection. Some of the brands completely rely on plastic food cups, wrappers, and bags. But of late, the large brands made a conscious effort. They don’t just stop with serving healthy items on the menus. They also try to be very eco-friendly.
The iconic and speed-oriented chains try to protect the environment. They use paper cups to lower the use of plastic things. Some brands also use certified and recycled packaging to lower the carbon footprint. Some have even gone to the extent of removing and replacing plastic straws.

Global appeal

It all boils down to the quality and taste of fast food. Yes, aesthetics and packaging also make a difference. The millennial generation also expects superior presentation along with yummy servings. Some are ready to accept higher fast food menu prices for an Instagram-worthy meal. Many brands adapted to these various demands as they desired to enter the global marketplace.
McDonald made inroads into the international space way back in the 1970s, whereas KFC is one of the leading brands outside of the USA. Russia and Japan are two trendy destinations for fast food choices. Even the menus underwent tremendous changes to suit the palate and local taste requirements of exotic markets.

Became a breakfast material

Burger places like McDonald’s and Burger King competed heavily. This battle led to a lot of innovation in the menus and slashed down fast food menu prices. McDonald’s first started offering the breakfast menu to increase its customer base. The servings included hotcakes, sausages, and popular egg sandwiches.

A decade later, the other brands too caught up with this demand. Their breakfast food introduction even became headlines news. Soon, this transformed into an all-day breakfast to attract more and more consumers. Many famous companies now offer breakfast menus at any time of the day.

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Drive-thru places

Anyone familiar with fast food would know about drive-thru places. Companies like Red Giants and In-N-Out popularized this concept. Very soon, other brands started offering this interesting choice to the customers. The buyer had to drive in, look up the menu, order, pick, and drive-away.
However, some brands still cautious about this new option. They insulated their counter services and developed special packages. Today, you can even utilize this service by placing a mobile app or online order. This innovation improved the speed and delivery of the menus.


Fast food stores do not associate with alcoholic drinks as they focus on a family audience. They usually served tea, coffee, soda, shakes, and fruit drinks only. But the new trend is to introduce beers, wines, and margaritas into the menus. Although full-service bars are a rarity, the alcohol servings are picking up in these stores.
Even pizza chains started offering alcohol to tap into the market demand. A variety of domestic beers always wins over the customers, and this is what some companies did to improve their profit margins while keeping the fast food menu prices lower. The Shake Shack brand even developed its in-house beer to create a buzz.


Vegetarian fast food menus come with a label as unhealthy and “junk”. To overcome this negative perception, many brands changed their tactics. They now cater to the health-conscious buyer with wholesome food items.
The menus avoid preserved food items to indicate freshness. The burgers are now without pre-frozen beef or other meats. Artificial preservatives and sassy colors became out of trend. Do you remember the rainbow trend? Also, grass-fed cattle sourced from free-range farms improved health quotient. Nowadays, you don’t find steroids, added hormones, or antibiotic content in turkey or other meats.

New technologies

Finally, fast food warmly embraced modernization. The menus not only evolved but also reached a diverse clientele. Hi-tech designer restaurants already made a grand entry along with gourmet new fast food items. KFC uses face recognition software at the payment counter. Voice-activated robots and smartphone apps are increasing the speed and accuracy of order processing. The stores also offer free Wi-Fi and power outlets to allow customers to spend more time than usual.

In conclusion, food connoisseurs’ priorities changed, leading to changes in the menu and the fast food menu prices. You get not only popular menu choices but also healthy and hygienic ones.

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