Built around fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins, bread, and olive oil, Mediterranean cuisine is a visual delight, exquisitely delicious, and healthy.
CAVA Grill has ensured to maintain all these distinctive features of Mediterranean cuisine when putting a modern American spin on it.
Born out of three friends’ love for their Greek heritage, CAVA is a rapidly-growing fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant that offers customizable salads, bowls, and pita wraps, along with some sides and drinks options.
The concept is similar to Chipotle, but the food at CAVA is unequivocally much healthier and fresh.
Thinking about CAVA vegan options? Gotcha!
Let’s evaluate the AVA menu to determine if the restaurant offers anything for vegans.
Does CAVA Have Vegan Options?
Mediterranean cuisine is perceived to be vegetarian and vegan-friendly, and rightly so. Though people of the Mediterranean eat meat, their diet relies heavily on plant foods. It’s the same at CAVA.
The restaurant offers quite a good variety of plant foods. And since it’s primarily based on the Build-You-Own Food concept, you have greater control over your food and can easily put together a vegan meal for yourself.
To make that easier for you, I am going to list all the vegan-friendly options from each category below.
What’s Vegan at CAVA?
Like any restaurant, CAVA’s menu is divided into multiple categories, and fortunately, there are vegan options in all of them. The categories include:
- Curated Bowls
- Curated Pitas
- Greens + Grains
- Dips + Spreads
Before we dig deeper into these categories to find out our exact choices, it’s worth mentioning here that CAVA Grill seems to be highly accommodating to their customers’ varying needs.
Not only the restaurant offers foods for people with different dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan, but it also provides a detailed allergen guide that clearly highlights all the common food allergens found in their various items.
This is a great step towards making restaurant menus more inclusive. More restaurants should learn from CAVA.
Oh, and did I tell you they don’t use eggs in any of their savory foods at CAVA. Phew! One less ingredient to worry about.
Now that it’s pretty much clear that CAVA Grill is a great place for vegans let’s discuss what all you can eat here.
CAVA Vegan Options 2022 – A Detailed Overview
Here’s everything that makes up CAVA’s vegan menu:
CAVA Vegan Curated Bowls
Not a fan of the Build-Your-Own food concept? Or don’t you have enough time to choose each meal component and place a custom order?
Don’t worry; CAVA Grill offers a few ready-to-eat options for people like you. But unfortunately, only one of them is vegan, and that is:
Lentil Avocado Bowl
This protein-packed bowl is 100% plant-based – meatless and dairy-free – but packs a punch of flavors and textures. Made with some of the best items of Mediterranean cuisine, this CAVA vegan bowl hits all the right notes and leaves your craving for more.
It has super greens, spinach, roasted veggies, roasted eggplants, cucumbers, pickled onions, avocado, cabbage slaw, lentil tabbouleh, hummus, garlic dressing, skhug (a vibrant green-colored Mediterranean hot sauce), and crispy fried falafel. Isn’t your mouth watering yet?
Can You Make Other Curated Bowls Vegan?
Certainly yes. But, the real question here is if anyone would want to customize curated CAVA bowls when they have an option to build their own bowl from scratch, just how they like it.
Having said that, my job here is to tell you all the ways of ordering vegan food at CAVA, so I am going to quickly tell you how you can make other curated bowl options vegan at CAVA. Here you go:
- Harissa Avocado Bowl – Skip the chicken and feta. You’ll be left with basmati rice, super greens, cucumbers, pickled onions, fire-roasted corn, avocado, hummus, and hot harissa vinaigrette.
- Lemon Chicken Bowl – As the name tells, this bowl has chicken, which you’ll have to skip when eating vegan at CAVA. It also has feta, so make sure to ask your server to hold that as well.
This omission will leave you with a vegan-friendly bowl containing romaine lettuce, spinach, pickled onions, tomato + onions, cucumbers, fire-roasted corn, lentil tabbouleh, red pepper hummus, and preserved lemon vinaigrette.
- Chicken & RIghtRice Bowl – This is a low-carb CAVA bowl for those watching their carbs/calorie consumption or just looking to eat healthier. If you’re ordering this, ask to hold the chicken, feta, and the tzatziki sauce. Your low-carb vegan CAVA rice bowl will have RightRice, arugula, pickled onion, tomato + onion, cucumber, hummus, and Greek vinaigrette.
- Greek Salad Bowl – As the restaurant describes, this CAVA bowl is as Mediterranean as a bowl can get. However, it comes standard with a few non-vegan ingredients – chicken, feta, and tzatziki. Skip these to make this CAVA bowl vegan.
The elements you’ll be left with include romaine lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, hummus, and Greek vinaigrette.
- Emma’s Fire Bowl – Latest addition to the menu, this CAVA bowl is created in partnership with the YouTube star Emma Chamberlain. Hence, the name. It doesn’t have chicken like the other curated bowls we just discussed, but it has feta, making it unsuitable for vegans. Skip it to make this CAVA bowl vegan-friendly.
You will have a spicy Mediterranean bowl with Persian cucumbers, olives, avocado, pickled onions, tomatoes, olives skhug, spicy hummus, and falafel over a bed of chopped leafy greens. It’s spicy, creamy, slightly tangy, and healthy as you can tell by the ingredients.
Want to know how it tastes and if it’s worth getting customized? Check out the following video for a quick review of Emma’s Fire Bowl at CAVA by another YouTuber:
CAVA Vegan Curated Pitas
Like bowls, CAVA has a few ready-to-eat options for pita wraps, too, with only one vegan-friendly option.
Crispy Falafel Pita
Crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, falafels are rich, herby, garlicky savory donut holes that are one of the most quintessential and beloved Mediterranean foods. This CAVA vegan wrap stars those only.
Fresh, housemade falafels are paired with roasted eggplant, tomato + onion, pickles, cabbage slaw, skhug, and garlic dressing to offer a powerful burst of flavors and textures in every bite.
You may get other curated pita varieties customized for the vegan diet, just like bowls. But, it’s not worth it because they all have chicken as the core ingredient. If you remove that, you’ll only be left with a bunch of vegetables with some sauce.
And you wouldn’t want to eat a pita wrap with just vegetables when you have a vegan falafel wrap available unless you absolutely hate falafel (hard to believe).
Build-Your-Own Vegan Meal at CAVA
Now that we have discussed the few ready-to-eat options available on the CAVA vegan menu, let’s talk about what CAVA Grill is mainly known for, i.e., Build-Your-Own meals.
As mentioned earlier, the restaurant offers multiple choices in each category. And surprisingly, most of them are vegan-friendly (happy screams). Let’s talk about how to order vegan food at CAVAstep by step:
Step 1 – Choose Your Base
You have five options for the base of your CAVA vegan meal. These include:
- Pita – Available in mini and large sizes. It’s dairy-free and vegan-friendly.
- Salad – Made with your choice of ingredients from SuperGreens, SplendidGreens, Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, and Organic Arugula.
- RightRice – A unique, high-fiber, high-protein grain prepared with rice and a healthy, nutritious mix of chickpeas, lentils, and peas.
- Grain Bowl – Choose your elements of the bowl from Brown Basmati Rice, Saffron Basmati Rice, RightRice, and/or Black Lentils.
- Greens + Grains – Double the nutrition and flavor in your CAVA vegan bowl by choosing a combination of veggie greens and grains as the base. Your choices include:
- Saffron Basmati Rice
- Brown Rice
- Black Lentils
- Romaine Lettuce
- Baby Spinach
Step 2 – Choose Dips + Spreads
CAVA Grill may not have the most extensive selection of dips and spreads, but it has all the classic varieties that are the cornerstone of Mediterranean foods.
This isn’t the best part of it, though. What makes it even better is that the restaurant allows you to add not one, not two, but up to three dips and spreads into your CAVA vegan meal. Isn’t it amazing?
Your choices for vegan dips and spreads at CAVA include:
- Hummus – Absolute classic and the majority’s (if not everyone’s) favorite Mediterranean dip; this hummus is made the most authentic way with chickpeas, tahini, fresh garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Nothing more, nothing less; the good ol’ recipe at its best.
- Red Pepper Hummus – Hummus with a spicy kick for those who like a bit of heat in their food, this one’s made with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and fresh roasted red peppers.
- Harissa – Another option for spice lovers, is a traditional Mediterranean hot chili pepper dip made with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and a bunch of herbs and spices.
- Roasted Eggplant Dip – Originally called Baba Ganoush, this lemony, nutty, garlicky eggplant dip is a Mediterranean classic made with a bunch of ingredients. The main ones of the sauce made at CAVA are roasted eggplant puree, garlic, onions, and fresh parsley.
BUY CAVA Dips, Spreads, and Sauces in Stores
If you live on the East Coast or somewhere in the Midwest, you may also be able to get your hands on bottles of freshly made CAVA dips and sauces at Whole Foods stores and specialty markets.
All bottled CAVA dips spreads, and sauces are made of natural ingredients. They are free of preservatives and additives and low in fat, sodium, and calories.
As per CAVA’s website, they are all vegetarian, and most are vegan-friendly as well.
The vegan-friendly options include Traditional Hummus, Spicy Hummus, Organic Traditional Hummus, Organic Caramelized Onion Hummus, Roasted Garlic Hummus, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Harissa, and Roasted Eggplant Dip.
Step 3 – Pick Your Protein
CAVA Grill provides you with eight different protein options to choose from. Naturally, most of them are meats, but there are three vegan-friendly options too (another pleasant surprise).
In a world where a large number of restaurants still do not offer any vegan protein choices and those that do usually have only one option, CAVA Grill gives you three different vegan protein varieties. And it’s not even an all-vegan restaurant. Brownie points to CAVA for this.
Your vegan protein choices at CAVA include:
- Falafel – Crispy fried donut holes-like savory balls made of chickpeas and a bunch of herbs and spices that give them a delicious yet not-so-overpowering flavor.
- Roasted White Sweet Potato– As the name tells, this vegan protein option is your good old sweet potato roasted with salt, paprika, coriander, and olive oil. Simple yet delicious.
- Roasted Vegetables– This vegan protein option at CAVA is a nutritious mix of fresh vegetables, including carrots, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.
Step 4 – Select Your Toppings
Whether you have decided to get yourself a vegan Mediterranean bowl or pita wrap, load it up with your choice of toppings from the following vegan options to make your CAVA vegan meal more flavorful, rich, and hearty:
- Tomato + Onion Salad
- Tomato + Cucumber Salad
- Lentil Tabbouleh
- Cabbage Slaw
- Shredded Romaine Lettuce
- Fire-Roasted Corn
- Salt-Brined Pickles
- Pickled Onions
- Persian Cucumbers
- Kalamata Olives
- Pita Crisps
Step 5 – Top with Dressing
Top your nutrient-packed delicious vegan bowl or wrap with delicious dressings of your choice to add another layer of flavors to your meal. The vegan-friendly dressing options at CAVA include the following:
- Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
- Greek Vinaigrette
- Hot Harissa Vinaigrette
- Lemon-Herb Tahini
- Tahini Caesar
- Garlic Dressing
CAVA’s menu doesn’t tell what ingredients these dressings are made of, but the restaurant’s allergen guide labels them “vegan”, so fret not over their components and order whichever of these CAVA dressings you want.
CAVA Vegan Sides
What’s a meal without a side? Now that you know how to order a vegan main at CAVA, it’s time you should take a look at your options for sides too.
CAVA doesn’t have many choices in this category, which can be a slight disappointment for many (because we’re quite used to seeing large lists of items in this menu category at most restaurants). But, hey, you at least have options. As they say, something is better than nothing.
Vegan sides at CAVA are:
- Pita Chips
- Emma’s Spicy Snack – Another dish CAVA created in collaboration with Emma Chamberlain out of her love for CAVA’s spicy hummus; this side dish or snack is, as the restaurant itself says, a mash-up of two popular items on the CAVA menu. These include spicy hummus (as you must have already figured) and pita chips.
If the word mash-up has got you confused, let me tell you that it’s just an attempt to make the good old chips and dip sound fancy. Yes, you read that right. Emma’s Spicy Snack at CAVA is basically their pita chips served with spicy hummus on the side (I see that eye roll).
- Carrot Sticks – from the kid’s menu.
CAVA Vegan Drinks
Complete your vegan meal at CAVA with your choice of drink from the following options (all except two of CAVA’s drinks on the menu are vegan-friendly):
- Classic Lemonade
- Cucumber Mint Lime
- Strawberry Citrus
- Blueberry Lavender
- Spindrift Raspberry Lime
- Spindrift Lemon
- Spindrift Cucumber
- Spindrift Blackberry
- Spindrift Grapefruit
- Maine Root Soda – Fountain and Bottled
- Honest Apple Juice
- Sweet Tea
- Unsweetened Black Tea
- Jasmine Tea
CAVA Vegan Menu FAQs
While we have covered pretty much everything about how to order vegan at CAVA, here are a few questions that I have seen people asking on different platforms, so I thought it would be better to address them separately to clear all the confusion about eating vegan at CAVA.
- Is CAVA all vegan?
No, it’s not. Even though its highly vegan-friendly menu may give you an impression that CAVA is an all-vegan restaurant, it’s actually not. As discussed in the article above, the restaurant offers meat choices and dairy-based dips, spreads, and dressings too.
- Is CAVA tzatziki vegan?
Tzatziki sauce at CAVA is not vegan. In fact, this Mediterranean sauce is never vegan-friendly because it’s yogurt-based.
- Is CAVA rice vegan?
They are. CAVA offers three different types of rice – Saffron Basmati Rice, Brown Rice, and RightRice. And while the restaurant’s menu doesn’t tell anything about their cooking method or ingredients used in them, they are labeled as “vegan” on the CAVA’s allergen guide. So, they are all confirmed vegan.
Conclusion – Is CAVA Vegan-Friendly?
If you have not yet figured it out, let me say it for you – CAVA is super vegan-friendly. Although the restaurant also offers non-vegan items, its menu is highly vegan-friendly, with a good number of plant-based and dairy-free choices.
There are very few restaurants that are not all-vegan but still considerate of vegans’ dietary limitations. CAVA certainly deserves appreciation for crafting such an amazing and inclusive menu.
It’s high time other restaurants should follow the lead. Meanwhile, you go ahead and make the most of vegan options at CAVA.
In case you’re an indecisive soul still pondering upon whether to try CAVA or not, check out the following video for a review of CAVA foods:
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about vegan options at other Mediterranean eateries? Check out my article Zoe’s Kitchen Vegan Options to find out what this Texas-based restaurant chain offers for its vegan diners.
Fun Fact – Zoe’s Kitchen and CAVA are owned by the same group, so it would be interesting to know how the two are different in their vegan food offers.