Can Vegans Eat Five Guys?

The allure of fast food is not solely based on taste, but on convenience, too. Although many vegans and people following a plant-based diet do not crave meat or the flavor of meat, it is hard to deny the convenience of large chains in the United States, especially for workers.

Purchasing food on the go is an attractive and easy alternative for employed people out of the house all day, but vegan options can be scarce.

Many vegans opt to order plant-based options from large chains that serve meat, though some avoid purchasing from these chains altogether. This is often a personal choice for those following a vegan diet and depends on why the person is following the diet in the first place.

Five Guys is a large, popular chain across the United States and now across the world, becoming a booming international business. No wonder people are wondering how this can fit into their vegan diets, but can it?

What options are available, and are there any alternatives? Read to find out more and make your own decision.

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What is Five Guys?

Five Guys, also known as Five Guys Enterprises LLC and commonly referred to as Five Guys Burgers and Fries for a rhyming pseudonym, is a restaurant chain in the United States. They are a large chain spread across the United States and now across the world in more than 19 countries.

The chain was founded in 1986, by a couple with four sons. Along with their father, this is supposedly the original “Five Guys” of the name.

They expanded to five stores in 2001, and by 2003 they had started to offer franchising.

Franchising is a practice in which a person may purchase a local store for a portion of the profits and operate the location in slightly variable ways under the Five Guys brand name, with permission to use the brand, procedures, and business model. They comply with certain requirements from Five Guys Enterprises LLC to do so.

Today, there are over 1,000 locations worldwide under the Five Guys brand.

What do they sell at Five Guys?

The nomenclature of the store, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, is part of their brand image, and Five Guys serves a limited menu compared to many fast food locations.

Traditionally, Five Guys offers mostly hamburgers, hotdogs, as well as sandwiches and milkshakes, though this all varies on location due to the franchising business model. In particular, the store features on-site boxes of peanuts that are free for customers to eat.

Are there any vegan options available at Five Guys?

This varies depending on the location because of Five Guys’ franchising model. The menu of the United States chain offered online details nutritional allergens in detail, meaning vegans and vegetarians concerned about what they are eating can easily verify exactly what has gone into their food.

Are Five Guys burgers vegan?

burger with fries

Unfortunately, no. Five Guys offers a wide variety of toppings for their burgers and sandwiches, but the patties themselves are formed of beef derived from cows, making them entirely unsuitable for vegans.

These are also unsuitable for vegetarians, and Five Guys’ menu makes no mention of any vegetarian or vegan-friendly burger options.

However, because Five Guys is a chain that has been heavily franchised, this may vary from store to store.

Many toppings for the burgers themselves are vegan and vegetarian friendly, from pickles, tomatoes, onions to jalapeno peppers and grilled mushrooms.

The burger buns are vegetarian-friendly. However, as they contain milk and eggs, they cannot be consumed by vegans who avoid animal byproducts altogether.

Are Five Guys hotdogs vegan?

As with Five Guys’ burger offerings, the hotdogs offered are not vegan. The hotdog bun components do not appear to be separately listed in the menu, but the hotdog itself contains beef, water, and less than 2% of alternative flavorings including milk and eggs.

Due to the inclusion of beef in the recipe, the recipe is not suitable for vegetarians either.

Are Five Guys milkshakes vegan?

Five Guys are well-known for their delicious and customizable milkshake offerings, with a “shake-base” and a variety of mix-ins that include brands such as Oreo Creme. The ingredients in the shake-base as listed by Five Guys are:

Milkfat and Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Whey, less than 1% of Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Carrageenan, Natural and Artificial Flavors. 

As we can see, the shake-base itself contains dairy as the core component in the form of milk and milk derivatives. However, there are several other concerning additions for vegans.

This is in the form of milkfat and nonfat milk, both derived from milk, as well as whey, a protein isolated from milk, mono- and di-glycerides, as well as natural flavors.

Are mono- and di-glycerides vegan?

Mono- and di-glycerides are a difficult choice for many vegans, as they can be vegan under certain circumstances. They are both derivatives of cellular tissue and can be easily obtained from plant tissue.

However, some manufacturers choose to obtain them from animal tissue, and tracking the source of these ingredients can be difficult. As a consequence, many vegans are uncertain as to whether the mono and di-glycerides found in their food are vegan or not.

If you are following a plant-based diet and are concerned about the source of this additive, the best choice is to contact the restaurant or chain’s representatives and ask where this ingredient was sourced.

It is likely however that they may not have an answer, in which case it is up to the individual as an ethical choice whether to consume it or not. As some vegans follow a vegan diet for health reasons, however, this may be less of a concern.

Are natural flavors vegan?

Natural flavors can be vegan, but in this case, most likely are not. This is because natural flavors as specified by the Food and Drug Administration of America include both flavors derived from plants, plant tissue, and fruit, as well as meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy.

In the case of this Five Guys milkshake shake-base, these natural flavors likely include milk. As a consequence, this is almost certainly a non-vegan ingredient.

However, in the case of natural flavors, vegetarians should also take note. Natural flavoring can include meat-based flavors that use animal products derived directly from dead animals and animal flesh, which would make these milkshakes unsuitable for vegans.

This is unlikely, but cannot be ruled out because of the vagueness of the ingredient. Concerned vegetarians should contact Five Guys directly to see if the representatives have a more precise source for these natural flavors.

Do Five Guys offer any vegetarian options?

vegetarian bean sandwich

Five Guys Burgers and Fries do offer a “Veggie Sandwich” which they specify is not a burger and is not a patty. This is because the Veggie Sandwich option is a compilation of their burger toppings collected together, and so is not an individual menu item.

The official Five Guys menu states:

Freshly grilled onions, mushrooms, and green peppers layered with lettuce and tomatoes on a soft, toasted sesame seed bun. Or start with the bun and build your own from scratch. Not a veggie burger.

Read more so we can investigate this specific item to see if it is vegan.

Are Five Guys freshly grilled onions vegan?

Yes. Five Guys’ only listed ingredient is fresh onions, and the oil used by the Five Guys chain is exclusively 100% peanut oil, meaning no animal byproducts are used in the production of this item. This is also suitable for vegetarians.

Are Five Guys grilled mushrooms vegan?

Five Guys’ grilled mushrooms contain the following items:

Mushrooms, Water, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate.

The only ingredient of concern in this list is sugar, as sugar is often a questionable ingredient for vegans.

The sugar listed by Five Guys does not have an explicit source, meaning vegans cannot check where exactly it came from or whether it is derived from sugar beet or sugar cane. Any wary vegan should call and investigate exactly where it came from, and whether it was isolated using bone char derived from waste cattle bones, as this makes the sugar unsuitable for vegans.

Sugar beet is not bleached in this way, and so is generally vegan-friendly.

As a chain franchise, the mushrooms provided may be standardized and provided from a single source. However, if your local franchise sources its mushrooms, these ingredients may vary.

In which case, any concerned vegan should contact their local chain themselves and ask where their mushrooms are sourced and if sugars are added. Likewise, they should ask where the sugar came from and decide for themselves whether to take the risk.

Are Five Guys green peppers vegan?

Yes. Five Guys’ green peppers contain no additives and are solely composed of fresh green peppers, making them vegan-friendly.

They are also suitable for any person following a vegetarian diet.

Are Five Guys’ tomatoes vegan?

Thankfully, yes! Five Guys’ tomatoes are just fresh tomatoes and are not fried in any way.

They are 100% vegan-friendly, as well as suitable for vegetarians.

Are Five Guys’ sesame buns vegan?

This sesame bun does not have an individual source on the menu. The Five Guys Bun is listed as having sesame on it, and this item contains milk and eggs, making it unsuitable for vegans.

This is still suitable for vegetarians, and vegetarians can safely consume the Five Guys’ Veggie Sandwich option if it is available in their area.

Are Five Guys fries vegan?

steak fries

Surprisingly, yes. Five Guys’ fries are fried in 100% peanut oil and then seasoned with salt.

None of these ingredients offers the opportunity to come into contact with animal byproducts, meaning they are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Are Five Guys Cajun fries vegan?

Yes. The Cajun fries served at Five Guys contain an additional layer of seasoning, and their ingredient list reads as follows:

Potatoes, Refined Peanut Oil, Salt, Cajun Seasoning: Blend of Garlic, Salt, Onion, Paprika, Oregano, White Pepper, Red Pepper, Spice.

Although “Spice” is a vague ingredient, this is unlikely to contain any animal products and is most likely suitable for both vegans and vegetarians, meaning that vegans can at least enjoy Five Guys’ famous fries.

Are any Five Guys toppings vegan?

Yes. Five Guys’ offers the A.1. Original Steak Sauce, which contains:

Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Raisin Paste, Crushed Orange Puree, Spices And Herbs, Dried Garlic And Onion, Caramel Color, Potassium Sorbate (To Preserve Freshness), Xanthan Gum

Although xanthan gum is a contested ingredient sometimes among vegans as the bacteria that produce it can be fed on lactose from cow’s milk, it is generally considered to be vegan due to the difficulty ascertaining the source in these cases.

As a consequence, these can be considered vegan, though those following the diet and lifestyle strictly may consider avoiding it for this reason or contact Five Guys directly to inquire.

The BBQ sauce contains the following ingredients:

Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Salt, Mustard Bran, Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor, Spices, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Caramel Color, Sugar, Natural Flavors

The ingredients of concern for vegans here are the natural flavors, which can be meat derived, the molasses which can be derived from bone-char bleached sugar cane, and the sugar itself, which likewise may be bleached with animal by-products.

Concerned vegans who want to try these ingredients should contact Five Guys directly to ask about the sugar used as well as the flavorings.

The Hot Sauce made available at Five Guys contains:

Hot Sauce Aged Cayenne Red Peppers, Distilled Vinegar, Water, Salt, Natural Flavor, Garlic Powder.

Due to the spicy taste, it is likely the natural flavors used here are plant-derived and vegan, but cautious vegans should contact Five Guys Enterprises LLC directly to ascertain for certain.

Are the Five Guys peanuts vegan?

As a positive final note, yes. The free complimentary nuts offered at Five Guys restaurants in-store are vegan, as they are roasted in a simple salt solution. They are vegetarian as well.

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