How does the Vegan Unlocked rating system work?

So you’ve stumbled across Vegan Unlocked. And you’re curious! First, we want to thank you for being here. We couldn’t do it without your support! 

You may be wondering what it is that differentiates Vegan Unlocked from other vegan websites. And the proof is in the data. We don’t simply copy and paste outdated vegan options from other websites. Instead, we hire skilled researchers to comb through each and every ingredient on restaurant menus. Then we get creative!

Our “secret menu” feature you’ll see on all of our restaurant pages comes from our skilled vegan research team stitching together meals, sides, and add-ons to create custom plant-based dishes. This comes easy to them because they are real-life vegans! No vegan options on the menu? No worries! Whether we’re swapping beef for potatoes, holding the cheese or building our own vegan burgers, odds are we can find you something to eat just about anywhere.

The formula

Here is where we truly go above and beyond. Our data team then creates a custom restaurant score based on the following: 

  • The amount of vegan offerings on the menu “as is”
  • The amount of vegan options on a menu with simple modifications
  • The number of custom vegan creations we brainstormed
  • And the ratio of vegan to non-vegan menu items.

We then assign a rating and label to each restaurant. Our rating system goes as follows:

5 stars: Vegan paradise!

This is a restaurant in which you’ll have a plethora of options to choose from. The vegan selection in this restaurant is almost on-par with the non-vegan selection!

4 stars: Vegan-forward menu

Here, you’ll have plentiful options. This likely means that the restaurant has a few dedicated vegan dishes, as well as high customizability on the menu. 

3 stars: Vegan-friendly menu

You’ll have a few options to choose from and a bit of variety as a vegan. They may be delicious options! But you’ll likely be able to count out your available choices on one hand. This is a typical range for American fast food restaurants.

2 stars: Few options 

Now, we’re treading into scarcer territory. This restaurant may or may not have a dedicated vegan item, and has moderate customizability. They likely aren’t your first choice, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back. There are still a few items you can find.

1 star: Little to no vegan options

If a restaurant is scoring in the 1 range, they need to step it up! You may be able to order a couple of appetizers, sides or salads, but hope is beginning to dwindle. You might find one, if any, dedicated vegan menu items.

Curious to See How the Top Restaurants Rank?

RestaurantOn The Menu Vegan ItemsVegan Items With Substitution5 Star RatingVegan Unlocked Rating
Cheesecake Factory15174.3Vegan-forward menu
Chilis1054.3Vegan-forward menu
Del Taco6214Vegan-forward menu
Panera Bread983.7Vegan-forward menu
BJs9103.7Vegan-forward menu
Noodles And Company693.3Vegan-friendly menu
El Pollo Loco593.3Vegan-friendly menu
Chuys873.3Vegan-friendly menu
Dennys1463Vegan-friendly menu
Chipotle1703Vegan-friendly menu
Taco Bell593Vegan-friendly menu
IHOP573Vegan-friendly menu
Wawa62573Vegan-friendly menu
Carrabbas763Vegan-friendly menu
Panda Express902.7Vegan-friendly menu
Red Robin562.7Vegan-friendly menu
California Pizza Kitchen392.7Vegan-friendly menu
Cava1502.7Vegan-friendly menu
Cracker Barrel1632.7Vegan-friendly menu
Starbucks1302.3Few options
Subway902.3Few options
Applebees2112.3Few options
Qdoba1122.3Few options
Arbys702.3Few options
Tropical Smoothie4122.3Few options
Popeyes3572.3Few options
Auntie Annes072.3Few options
Cold Stone1402.3Few options
Einstein Bagels1112.3Few options
KFC612Few options
Chick Fil A622Few options
Olive Garden612Few options
Sonic732Few options
Smoothie King4102Few options
Cafe Rio252Few options
Buffalo Wild Wings261.7Few options
Jimmy Johns511.7Few options
Red Lobster621.7Few options
Johnny Rockets631.7Few options
Mellow Mushroom621.7Few options
Habit Burger351.7Few options
Mcdonalds211.3Little to no vegan options
Jack In The Box541.3Little to no vegan options
Jersey Mikes121.3Little to no vegan options
Texas Roadhouse641.3Little to no vegan options
In N Out301.3Little to no vegan options
Burger King321Little to no vegan options
Pizza Hut221Little to no vegan options
Dairy Queen311Little to no vegan options
Dunkin Donuts301Little to no vegan options
Culvers321Little to no vegan options
Five Guys Burger And Fries301Little to no vegan options
Shake Shack201Little to no vegan options
Mod Pizza311Little to no vegan options
Blaze Pizza211Little to no vegan options
Whataburger221Little to no vegan options
Dutch Bros001Little to no vegan options
Carls Jr221Little to no vegan options
Krispy Kreme001Little to no vegan options
Papa Johns121Little to no vegan options
Tgi Fridays331Little to no vegan options
Portillos121Little to no vegan options
Zaxby221Little to no vegan options
Dominoes040.7Little to no vegan options
Wendys420.7Little to no vegan options
Waffle House400.7Little to no vegan options