The evolving vegan fast food scene in France

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Two years ago I couldn’t have written this post. But times are changing, rapidly in some countries and much more slowly here in France. Eating out can still be a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, but if you do your research before setting out and follow tips like checking the Happy Cow app, then you can often find a vegan restaurant meal in most large towns and cities. But what happens if you’re in a hurry, or need to find something quick to eat on-the-go? Despite the popularity of the traditional long lunch, the French have embraced the fast food culture. In fact, fast food accounts for more than half of annual restaurant revenue, and there are more McDonalds outlets in France than in the UK.

Photo of vegan fast food burger
Image by kat vegan from Pixabay

What do the international fast food chains offer?

The French fast food scene is a rapidly moving feast (no pun intended!) with new offerings coming  on stream every month. For a few years now the major international chain McDonalds has dipped its toe in the water with vegan and vegetarian burgers, usually for trial periods. We’ve even had veggie weeks here in the wilds of the Limousin and they weren’t too bad (I was obviously only sampling the burgers for the purposes of research). Currently, the golden arches are not offering any vegan burgers, although there is a vegetable wrap on the menu. It’s labelled vegetarian as it contains cheese, but I suppose you could ask for it to be made without the cheese. There’s also a question mark over the fries. Although there is no indication of ‘lait’ (milk) on the allergy info, I have seen suggestions that these are not vegan. McDonald’s competitor, Burger King has even less on offer. The only thing I could come up with was a veggie salad with bulgur wheat, but even that was topped goat’s cheese. Shame as I recall eating a BK Bean Burger in the UK as long ago as 1998!

Are the French chains any better?

Despite their fondness for a MacDo, the French have their own homegrown fast food chains too. The most well-known are probably Quick and Flunch. I’ve only ever ventured into Flunch once, but I’m afraid we were baffled by its cafeteria style layout and the fact that most people seemed to be queuing up for huge tranches of flesh to be grilled. In a change from a few months ago, Flunch does now list a vegetarian burger, but there is little information about it. In fact, the allergy statement goes so far as to say that they can’t guarantee any allergy free food and note that all types of food are cooked on the same grill. Maybe one to avoid? Another French favourite Quick claims to be ‘the taste of legends’ but does not seem to offer anything even remotely vegan-friendly. It is postcode dependent though as you may be lucky, however, even putting in a Paris code postale did not throw up anything other than standard carni burgers.

Is it possible to find a vegan burger anywhere?

Just when you thought it was time to give up, there is a glimmer of hope. The well-known restaurant chain Buffalo Grill has just added the Beyond Meat© burger to its menu. Although listed as a cheeseburger, apparently it is possible to veganise by ordering without the cheese or the sauce. Another alternative is the chain Courtpaille, which you can often find located in a Centre Commercial, near to large grande surface supermarkets. Its ‘le décalé’ burger is actually marked as vegan, comprising a soya steak without cheese.

What other vegan fast food options are available?

Two other major chains to look out for are Subway, where you can build your own ‘sub’ or wrap. Here I spotted no less than three vegan possibilities: a kale and quinoa sub, a soya steak sub and a crunchy vegetable sub; the menu gives advice on the best bread to select for a vegan meal, too. Finally, mention must go to the Domino’s Pizza chain, which in France offers two vegan pizza options, both with vegan cheese – a margarita and a peppina. I have read good reports of Domino’s vegan offerings, although haven’t yet sampled them as the nearest is just too far away. If you do try out any of these suggestions, or find any more fast-food chains offering vegan choices please leave a comment below.

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