Wendy’s dares to be different. From its square-shaped hamburger patties to its controversial fries-and-Frosty combination, it’s safe to say this fast-food chain doesn’t abide by the status quo. In one way, it’s frustrating, because it hasn’t fallen in line with other major chains like Carl’s Jr. or Burger King and adopted an Impossible or Beyond Meat burger. However, Wendy’s is considering a meatless option—it just prefers to do the innovation. In June 2021, the chain released a very limited launch of a Spicy Black Bean Burger on its Made to Crave menu. While it required vegan modifications and is no longer available, the move signifies a permanent position in the future. While waiting for the veggie burger to return (fingers crossed), here is how to eat vegan at Wendy’s.
The sides are where you’ll add some heft to your meal. Like Taco Bell, that heft comes in the form of potatoes—both fried and baked. Wendy’s natural-cut French fries are another example of the chain’s outlier tendencies, as the chain doesn’t peel its potatoes before slicing and frying. The plain baked potato is another fail-proof option. Ask for a side of chives and/or salsa to impart more flavor into your spud. For something fresh, ask for a side of apple or strawberry slices.
All of the salads on Wendy’s menu can be made vegan when you remove the meat, nuts, and cheese and choose one of the two vinaigrette dressings. However, there is little left on some salads after this removal. For example, the Summer Strawberry Salad with no chicken, bacon, cheese, or almonds (they contain honey) leaves you with spring mix greens and sliced strawberries. However, this can serve as a nice, light appetizer salad—particularly when paired with the Champagne Vinaigrette that comes with this item. The Apple Pecan Salad is similarly light and fruity—without chicken, bacon, pecans (also contain honey), and cheese, you get a bowl of greens with diced apples and a vegan-friendly Pomegranate Vinaigrette. For a salad with more substance, opt for the Southwest Avocado Salad. Ask for no chicken, cheese, dressing, or bacon, but ask for extra diced tomatoes and the taco chips that come with the taco salad. In lieu of the vinaigrette, dress this salad with a side of salsa.
The options are slim, but there are options if you find yourself at a Wendy’s between the hours of 6:30-10:30am. Vegans have two choices: seasoned potatoes and fruit. Essentially, it’s a reiteration of the sides on the main menu with the exception that these potato wedges come with a bit more zing thanks to a sprinkling of garlic and onion powder.
Until the Spicy Black Bean Burger returns, vegans are out of luck. Technically, you could ask for a sandwich (the Premium Bun is vegan) with lettuce, avocado, tomato, pickles, and raw onion, but that seems extremely sad.
In regards to the Frostys, bakery items, and chicken options, all contain some form of animal ingredients. While a Wendy’s spokesperson told us the company likes to do things “the Wendy’s way,” we’re still hoping for a Beyond Meat Chicken or an Oatly soft serve collaboration to guide it into the vegan future.
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.
LABOR DAY FLASH SALE! Until September 6 at midnight PST, subscriptions to VegNews are just $18. Get the BEST vegan recipes, travel, celebrity interviews, product picks, and so much more inside every issue. Find out why VegNews is the world’s #1 plant-based magazine by subscribing today!