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by Natalia Galbetti
Categories: Eats, Vegan, Vegetarian.

It’s not always easy being vegan when eating out, especially when it comes to the big name chains your non-veg friends love to go to. But tides are slowly turning and some major restaurants have added real vegan options (not just salads and sides) to their menus.

Chipotle so far is the biggest fast food vegan friend. The Mexican grill is offering Tofu Sofritas with organic tofu shredded and braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of spices. Hearty and completely plant based. So far the sofritas are only offered in select locations but the chain is planning to expand it nationwide.

Subway has dabbled with vegan options for a few years. In 2012 the sandwich restaurants in Washington DC experimented with vegan meats. Then in 2013 falafel sandwiches were also offered in some stores around the nation’s capital. Now in 2014 vegans all over the US can substitute the dairy-filled mayonnaise with protein-rich hummus in over 1,000 stores. Depending on how much diners request it, Subway might take the option nationally.

For dessert or a sweet snack, vegans can now head to TCBY. In the last year the soft serve ice cream chain has rolled out three non-dairy flavors using Silk non-dairy milk: almond-based chocolate, almond-based vanilla, and now coconut-based coconut.

Then there are the vegetarian and vegan chains that are expanding. Veggie Grill, a Santa Monica based vegetarian chain, announced last year that it plans of doubling its number of stores within the next year and a half with new locations popping up all across the west coast. Native Foods Cafe has even bigger expansion plans with a goal of 200 stores all over the US in the next five years offering vegan options for diners from coast to coast. Cinnaholic, a husband and wife team of vegan bakers, announced franchising opportunities are now available. Thanks to some help from the sharks on ABC’s reality show “Shark Tank”, Cinnaholic will also be able to sell their vegan cinnamon rolls online all over the US soon.

Times, they are a-changing, everyone… But if you’re still dragged to a not-so-vegan-friendly chain by a meat eating friend, there’s always PETA’s handy guide to eating everywhere.