Eating vegan in a fast-food setting is difficult enough as it is. Trying to come up with vegan fast food dessert options can be even more complicated and oftentimes discouraging. The options are quite limited, but, thankfully, there are a few trusty options to which you can turn when you are hard-pressed for time or when you are part of a group that includes non-vegans.
Whenever fast food restaurants (or any restaurants, really) have things like icees, slushies, and sorbets, then you can count on those as a safe bet for a vegan dessert option. There are frozen yogurt establishments all over the place. Many of those have dairy-free sorbet options. Places that serve milkshakes and smoothies sometimes have vegan fruit juice smoothie options as well. Be sure to ask for juice only to ensure that yogurt is not used in your smoothies.
The following fast food and quick-serve restaurants offer vegan fast food dessert options.
Arby’s — apple turnover, cherry turnover
Cold Stone Creamery — juice-based fruit smoothies (ask for a juice base with no yogurt)
Dairy Queen — some locations have a dairy-free dessert bar called a Star Kiss
McDonald’s — apple pie
As mentioned, the vegan fast food options are severely (let’s face it, embarrassingly) limited. Restaurants that are entirely vegan/vegetarian, on the other hand, have all sorts of amazing vegan fast food dessert items like cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, ice cream dishes, and other mouthwatering edibles that your friends will swear are secretly not vegan. It comes down to a matter of location and the hard truth is that some areas just do not have any of those types of restaurants currently. Hopefully, as the vegan lifestyle grows in popularity, those of you who do not live near any now will start to see them popping up more and more in those areas.
The easiest way to stick to your vegan diet without either feeling pressured to stray or going hungry when you are in a bind is to prepare food ahead of time that you can take with you to work, events, etc. These quick recipes are very simple and they will come in handy when your sweet tooth inevitably strikes. Plus, they are way healthier than their dairy and fat-laden alternatives.
Chocolate and Banana Pudding
All you need to make this super easy, low fat, low calorie dessert is one banana, two cups of silken tofu, one-third of a cup of cocoa powder, and one-third cup of sugar. Just toss all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture is nice and smooth. Chill the pudding in the refrigerator for at least an hour before eating or serving and voila, you have a healthy vegan dessert to satisfy a gnawing chocolate craving. Try topping it with fresh fruit, like sliced strawberries or more bananas, or a dairy-free whipped topping.
The Easiest Vegan Cake Ever (Seriously)
To make a vegan cake, all you need is a box cake mix and ten ounces of soda. It really is that simple. Choose whatever flavor mix you want. Duncan Hines mixes are usually vegan. Just check the ingredients regardless of what brand or flavor to be sure. Then grab a twelve-ounce can of soda, pop it open and take a couple sips and you have your ten ounces. For a chocolate cake, opt for a darker soda like Coke or Pepsi. For a yellow cake or other lighter mix, use Sprite or some other lighter-colored soda. Stir the cake mix and the soda together, pour the mixture in to a greased cake pan, and bake it according to the directions on the cake mix box. Many store-bought frostings are vegan as well, or you can just make your own.
Try these other cake recipes for some exciting variations like carrot cake, lemon pound cake, and peanut butter oat cake: http://www.squidoo.com/vegan-cake-recipes. A good rule of thumb for baking vegan desserts is that in any recipe you can replace eggs with applesauce or bananas and milk with soymilk. These basics will help you turn many favorite recipes into vegan ones.
For the cookie people, vegan cookies are generally easier as a do-it-yourselfer than finding them already made in a store. A quick Google search reveals tons of vegan cookie recipes, like this one for Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles (yum!) from the Post Punk Kitchen: http://www.theppk.com/2009/09/mexican-hot-chocolate-snickerdoodles/. The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, at http://thevegancookieconnoisseur.com/, will keep you updated with some of the most delectable (not to mention attractive) recipes to satisfy even the most fervent of cookie monsters.
A quick tip, though, for when baking is out of the question is that most Oreos are vegan! They have a lot of different flavors and are always coming out with limited seasonal varieties, so there is always something new to try. Just be sure to check the ingredients before you try any new flavor as Nabisco is not a vegan company and some varieties do contain non-vegan ingredients.