Best Vegetarian Fast Food - Healthy Choices, Low Fat, Low Calorie

Vegetarians need to be careful when choosing the best vegetarian fast food healthy choices to ensure that the products have low fat, low calories and do not contain traces of meat by-products.

Many meals have very high cheese contents and the choose may be made from rennet which is produced from cow calves. Vegans need to be particularly careful of salad dressings that my contain egg and gelatine.

Do not assume that the non-meat items on the menu of many Australian fast food outlets such as Sumo Salad, Subway, Pizza Hut, Oporto, Noodle Box, Nando's, Hungry Jack's, Go Sushi and Domino's.

This article discusses some the dangers and a guide to help vegetarians make healthy choices with fast food meals. It also includes nutrition data comparing popular vegetarian fast food with regular meals for these outlets.

The same concerns apply for fast food outlets in other countries. Vegetarians are advised to get the nutrition information and data on rennet, eggs, dairy products and other meat derived products from the various outlets.

Otherwise you may be eating meat derivative without know it. Similar concerns apply to medicines and packaging such as capsules which are derived from gelatine and other animal products.

Vegetarians need to do their homework to ensure that they make healthy choices for fastfood meals. There may be hidden animal derivatives in the food and excessive amounts of cheese leading to high fat contents.
Vegetarians need to do their homework to ensure that they make healthy choices for fastfood meals. There may be hidden animal derivatives in the food and excessive amounts of cheese leading to high fat contents. | Source

Meat Derivatives found in 'Veggie' Meal Offerings

The Australian Consumer group 'Choice' examined a total of 80 items on the vegetarian menus of fast food outlets and were surprised that many items contain animal derivatives.

One of the most concerning was rennet, which is used to produce cheese and comes from the stomach of cows. Some salad dressings contain dairy and egg products.

Many meat-free items are not designed for vegetarians and this was admitted by the outlets.

KFC admitted that they had no vegetarian products. Hungry Jack's admitted that the cheese in their Veggie Burgers may contain rennet and some of their mayonnaise contains egg - but these products were not promoted as being 'vegetarian', despite the name 'Veggie'.

Subway informed choice that its cheese does contains rennet, but on the plus side its vegetarian menu options do not come with cheese, but it can be added by request.

Domino's mozzarella cheese is free of animal by-products and it offers several vegetarian options, some of which include seafood.

McDonald's was not included in the survey by Choice because it doesn't have vegetarian options on its regular menu.

Are Veggie Options Healthier?

The Choice research study also examined whether the vegetarian and 'Veggie' options on fast food menus were healthier than standard food items containing meat. The key nutrition elements were saturated fat levels, Calories (kilojoules) and salt content.

One of the problems vegetarians face is that the fast food chains are often cheat by offering vegetarian meals created by simply replacing the meat protein in the dish with cheese. The food product can be very tasty but very unhealthy. The added cheese boost the saturated fat and salt of the meal.

Consumers should resist the assumption that 'veggie' meal choices will be the healthiest option on the menu.

The table below compares the nutrition of standard meals with various 'veggie' options, that have been listed from good to bad in terms of calories and fat content. All the nutrient values have been listed as values per 100 g of product so that direct comparisons can be made.

Some examples of the dangers are:

  • A Hungry Jack's Veggie Burger has about 3000 kilojoules more than twice the 1200 kilojoules in its meat hamburger,
  • Oporto's 'Veggie Burger' has more sodium and saturated fat than most of its chicken burgers.
  • Domino's vegetarian pizza can only be regarded as a healthy choice in terms of saturated fat level by choosing a classic crust (thin base) which reduces fat levels by 75%.
  • The Simply cheese pizzas are a nightmare in terms of calories and fat deceiving many consumers. Dominos Simply Cheese pizza has 250 calories per 100 g and 8 g of fat is among the least healthy foods in the table. Pizza Huts Signature Four Cheese pizza is the second worst on the list with 313 Calories per 100 g and 15 g of fat.
  • Cheese can ruin an otherwise healthy salad via salt as well as fat. A regular size Sumo Salad Balsamic Beetroot salad has 1908 mg sodium – which is equivalent to about 80% of the recommended daily allowance of sodium.
  • Veggie options with minimal cheese that have plant protein instead of meat, tend to be more nutritious. Plant protein from chickpeas, beans, nuts, lentils and tofu are generally healthy because these foods have higher levels of antioxidants, fiber and many protective phytochemicals. However watch the calorie counts and keep portion sizes under control.
  • Hungry Jack's Veggie Burger contains about 65% of the daily recommended intake of sodium, and 45% of the recommended intake for fat.
  • If you’re trying to limit your intake of calories, fat and sodium then as always it is the portion size that really makes a difference.
  • Go Sushi vegetarian offerings are generally healthy, but the hazards with all sushi rolls is the salt, even before you add soy sauce. Just a single 110g Veggie Deluxe Sushi Roll has almost 700 mg of sodium, which is one third of the 30% of the recommended daily allowance.
  • Subway's menu in Australia has two vegetarian offerings available either a wrap or sub. These veggie menu items are cheese-free in standard form. However resist the temptation to add a slice of cheese as their cheese contains rennet. Also be aware that the dressings and sauces can really boost the calories, saturated fat and sodium.

While the fast food options vary throughout the world it pays vegetarians to check for animal derivatives in the options labeled as 'Veggie' or vegetarian and to check the nutrient levels. Never assume anything. Many people do not use calorie and other information before choosing their food.

Healthy Vegetarian Fast Food Choices

Food
Energy per 100g (kJ)
Energy per 100g (Cal)
Total fat (per 100g)
Saturated fat (per 100g)
Sugars (per 100g)
Sodium (per 100g)
Standard Foods for Comparison
 
 
 
 
 
 
McDonalds - Seared Chicken Tandoori Wrap (A)
520
124
3
1
3
231
Subway - Six-Inch Roasted Chicken Sub - wheat bread (A)
543
130
2
1
3
202
Dominos - Prawn and Spinach Ciabatta Pizza (Good Choice) (A)
760
182
1
1
2
280
Dominos - Prawn and Spinach Ciabatta Pizza (Good Choice) (A)
760
182
1
1
2
280
KFC - Original Fillet Burger (A)
948
227
6
1
4
480
Hungry Jacks - Hamburger (A)
1083
259
10
4
5
481
Oporto - Bondi Burger with Chilli - Single Fillet (A)
1120
268
15
3
2
475
Vegetarian Options
 
 
 
 
 
 
Subway - Veggie Delite Salad (no dressing)
77
18
0
0
2
24
Go Sushi - Vegetarian Vietnamese Roll
193
46
0
0
2
19
Sumo Salad - balsamic beetroot salad - regular
291
70
1
0
13
298
Go SushiVege Sushi Roll
362
87
1
0
6
475
Sumo Salad - mushroom risotto - regular
295
71
2
1
1
174
Sumo Salad - pumpkin risotto - regular
315
75
2
1
12
137
Sumo Salad - value-tarian salad - small
249
60
3
1
2
71
Sumo Salad - pumpkin & cous cous salad - regular
272
65
3
0
4
182
Sumo Salad - roasted pumpkin & chickpea salad - regular
310
74
3
0
4
297
Noodle Box - Gung Ho Soy Box - large
542
130
2
1
4
410
Noodle Box - Gung Ho Soy Box - small
542
130
2
1
4
410
Subway - Veggie Delite 6 Inch Sub - wheat bread
560
134
2
1
3
186
Subway - Veggie Delite Mini Sub - wheat bread
562
134
2
1
3
187
Sumo Salad - wild rice & chickpea salad - regular
413
99
4
0
3
275
Sumo Salad - white bean & kumera salad - regular
514
123
3
0
8
252
Sumo Salad - tomato, chilli, olive ravioli - regular
480
115
4
2
1
178
Sumo Salad - moroccan roasted vegetables salad - regular
447
107
5
1
14
173
Sumo Salad - Israeli cous cous salad - regular
656
157
3
0
7
227
Pizza Hut - Tuscani Pastas Mediterranean Veg - for one
562
134
4
1
3
326
Sumo Salad - shanghai noodle salad - regular
569
136
4
0
4
358
Subway - Veggie Delite Wrap
614
147
4
2
2
343
Sumo Salad - spicy yam cous cous - regular
526
126
5
0
7
112
Go Sushi - Vegie Deluxe Sushi Roll
547
131
5
1
7
627
Nandos - Vege Pita (no mayo)
680
163
4
1
6
270
Subway - Veggie Patty 6 Inch Sub - wheat bread
727
174
4
1
4
233
Go Sushi - Egg Sushi Roll
568
136
6
1
6
521
Sumo Salad - lentil & tabbouleh salad - regular
470
112
7
1
2
133
Nandos - Vege Pita
670
160
5
1
7
283
Sumo Salad - greek salad leafy - regular
379
91
8
2
2
172
Dominos - Vegorama - classic crust
792
189
4
2
4
390
Sumo Salad - mediterranean chickpea salad - regular
503
120
7
1
4
295
Sumo Salad - spinach & ricotta cannelloni hot pasta salad - regular
615
147
6
3
1
270
Sumo Salad - eggplant ravioli hot pasta salad - regular
522
125
7
2
2
199
Dominos - Satay Veg - classic crust
776
185
5
2
6
341
Dominos - Satay Veg - thin n crispy
784
187
5
3
6
342
Sumo Salad - pumpkin & beetroot salad leafy - regular
488
117
8
2
4
131
Dominos - Satay Veg - deep pan
861
206
5
2
6
360
Sumo Salad - tomato & bocconcini toastie
782
187
6
2
3
249
Sumo Salad - falafel & hummus wrap
685
164
7
2
6
409
Sumo Salad - roasted vegetable toastie
688
164
7
2
2
332
Sumo Salad - Italian penne hot pasta salad - regular
625
149
8
1
4
224
Dominos - Vegorama - thin n crispy
825
197
6
3
4
405
Dominos - Margherita - classic crust
858
205
6
3
4
425
Sumo Salad - falafel, barley & quinoa salad - regular
666
159
8
1
5
185
Dominos - Margherita - thin n crispy
869
208
6
3
4
428
Dominos - Vegorama - deep pan
874
209
6
2
4
398
Sumo Salad - pumpkin & pinenut tortellini hot pasta salad - regular
590
141
9
2
3
164
Dominos - Margherita - deep pan
912
218
6
3
5
415
Sumo Salad - pumpkin & pinenut salad - large
519
124
10
2
2
100
Nandos - Vego Burger (no mayo)
862
206
7
1
3
400
Sumo Salad - falafel, tomato & rocket long roll
868
207
7
2
8
449
Sumo Saladfal - afel & cous cous salad leafy - regular
571
136
10
2
6
240
Sumo Salad - pear, brie & rocket long roll
874
209
7
4
5
277
Nandos - Vego Burger
858
205
8
1
3
310
Go Sushi - Avocado Sushi Roll
673
161
10
2
6
505
Pizza Hut - Pizza Classics Margherita pizza - Perfecto crust
979
234
7
3
3
348
Sumo Salad - roasted vegetable toasted wrap
845
202
9
3
2
396
Pizza Hut - Legends Veggie pizza - Perfecto crust
1019
244
8
4
4
361
Dominos - Simply Cheese - thin n crispy
1040
249
8
5
4
482
Dominos - Simply Cheese - deep pan
1050
251
8
4
4
461
Dominos - Satay Veg - the edge crust
951
227
9
4
5
408
Sumo Salad - pumpkin & pinenut wrap
775
185
11
3
2
273
Pizza Hut - Signature Antipasto pizza - Perfecto crust
990
237
9
3
3
507
Dominos - Simply Cheese - classic crust
1030
246
9
5
4
484
Dominos - Vegorama - the edge crust
997
238
10
4
4
447
Pizza Hut - Signature Spinach & Feta pizza - Perfecto crust
1119
267
9
4
3
471
Dominos - Margherita - the edge crust
1030
246
10
5
4
477
Dominos - Satay Veg - square puff crust
957
229
11
6
7
395
Sumo Salad - rocket, fetta & sun-dried tomatoes salad leafy - regular
662
158
14
4
2
344
Pizza Hut - Pizza Classics Cheese pizza - Perfecto crust
1171
280
9
5
2
546
Pizza Hut - Mia Veggie pizza - Perfecto crust
1195
286
10
4
3
595
Dominos - Vegorama - square puff crust
1030
246
12
6
6
437
Dominos - Margherita - square puff crust
1060
253
12
7
6
478
Pizza Hut - Mia Cheese pizza - Perfecto crust
1262
302
10
5
2
572
Sumo Salad - pesto pasta salad - regular
932
223
14
1
2
311
Oporto - Veggie Burger
1030
246
14
2
3
495
Hungry Jacks - Veggie Burger
1056
252
14
4
4
542
Dominos - Simply Cheese - the edge crust
1160
277
13
6
3
529
Pizza Hut - Signature Four Cheese pizza - Perfecto crust
1310
313
15
8
3
644
Dominos - Simply Cheese - square puff crust
1250
299
16
9
5
558

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 1 comment

Rusticliving profile image

Rusticliving 4 years ago from California

Hi John,

I really like this hub. Very good source of information. I am on the road constantly and have a few places I frequent because I know I can get a healthy sandwich or salad. Great layout! Thumbs up and definitely shared! Lisa

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