If you’re a seafood lover and reside in the US, there’s no way you could have spent all your life without trying the delicious seafood at Red Lobster. With a diverse menu and incredible offers like Endless Shrimp and Lobsterfest, Red Lobster is inarguably heaven for seafood lovers. The unlimited supply of their oh-so-delicious cheddar bay biscuits (which you don’t have to be a seafood person to fall in love with) works to delight its eaters. If you like seafood, you must have tried Red Lobster at one time in your life.
However, if you have turned vegan, you cannot devour all your favorite foods at Red Lobster without considering if it’s vegan-friendly.
Is Red Lobster Vegan-Friendly?
In view of the fact that Red Lobster is known for its seafood, many people presume that the restaurant becomes a prohibited area once you turn vegan. But, that’s not true.
For all those who wonder – does Red Lobster have anything vegan, the restaurant offers several vegan-friendly options. If you’re planning to go to a nearby Red Lobster for a quick lunch, you can find a few decent options. Some of them are also healthy. However, if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a full-fledged vegan meal, Red Lobster is sadly not the place to be.
Having said that, I completely agree with the age-old saying to each their own. What might be boring food options for me can make a good meal for someone else. So, I let you decide!
What Can Vegans Eat at Red Lobster?
Unfortunately, Red Lobster neither provides a separate vegan menu nor highlights the vegan food items on the standard menu. It also doesn’t list the ingredients used in a food item under the name, like the majority of other restaurants do, making it easier to figure out if a particular food item is vegan-friendly or not. Wondering how will you find out Red Lobster vegan options, then?
Don’t worry; I have got it all sorted for you!
Red Lobster vegan options include:
- Garden salad (without dairy)
- Baked potato (without sour cream and/or butter)
- Seasonal veggies – Brussel sprouts, green beans, asparagus, broccoli
- Rice pilaf
- Quinoa rice
- Dragon broccoli
- Sea-salted French fries
- Orange wedges (from the kids’ menu)
- A range of sauces and dressings
- An array of drinks
Let’s take a look at each of these items, separately, to discuss what they contain and to confirm there’s no ingredient in them that doesn’t fit the dietary guidelines of veganism.
Appetizers and Vegan Sides at Red Lobster
As the name implies, garden salad is a mix of garden-fresh vegetables, mainly including lettuce, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots. However, as highlighted in the restaurant’s allergen guide, Red Lobster’s garden salad contains dairy. So, make sure to ask to not add dairy (dressing/cheese) in your salad, when placing an order for it. (Don’t lose heart; the salad comes with croutons)
If you do not want to eat your salad with dressing, you can opt for champagne vinaigrette – the only vegan salad dressing available at Red Lobster.
Depending on a person’s preference, garden salad can be eaten either as an appetizer or a side.
· Baked Potato
When confused about what to order at Red Lobster as a vegan, settle for the good ol’ baked potato; without meat, sour cream, and butter of course.
Unlike some restaurants that use animal fat in their baked potatoes (applied on the skins before baking them), Red Lobster can make them free of all animal and animal-derived ingredients for their vegan customers. Just make sure to mention it to the server when placing the order.
Red Lobster offers a range of vegetable options, some of which are seasonal. The choice of veggies available may also vary across different states. Therefore, always inquire what veggies do they have available when eating at your local Red Lobster branch.
Some of the vegetable side options at Red Lobster, which I presume to be available everywhere, include green beans, asparagus, seasoned broccoli (this is different from dragon broccoli, which I’ll get to in a bit), and crispy Brussels sprouts.
Even though my research tells that the veggies that are offered as sides at Red Lobster are vegan. However, knowing how animal ingredients are often sneaked into vegan items, I always like to double-check for my peace of mind. And I suggest you do the same. Since some restaurants (not Red Lobster) do use butter or animal fat while sautéing veggies, always confirm if the veggies you’re ordering are prepared the vegan way or not. Don’t worry in case they’re not – you can always ask them to not use butter or animal fat while preparing vegetables for you.
Depending on the location, Red Lobster may only offer the option of plain white rice as a side or also their famous wild rice pilaf.
While there’s nothing to worry about in plain rice, the wild rice pilaf contains butter/margarine, which makes them non-vegan. However, you can always try and request them if they can make the wild rice pilaf for you without butter, margarine, or any other animal fat. You may get lucky!
Sides at Red Lobster That Some Vegans May Wish to Avoid
Any discussion about vegan food cannot be simple and straightforward. There are always some grey areas or controversial ingredients involved. Red Lobster’s menu is no exception! Following are a couple of side options available at Red Lobster that are generally considered vegan. However, some vegans may wish to avoid them because of the likelihood of cross-contamination. These include:
· Sea-Salted French Fries
Unlike many other restaurants, they don’t cook fried in animal fat or lard at Red Lobster. They use vegetable oil. However, they are prepared in a fryer that’s also used to fry seafood and other types of meat and animal products, like mozzarella sticks. Due to this reason, some ardent vegans prefer to avoid eating French fries from outside, unless they’re eating at a place that only serves vegan food.
· Dragon Broccoli
The fiery, saucy, fried broccoli doesn’t contain any non-vegan ingredients. But, just like French fries, they’re cooked in shared fryers and hence, are avoided by some vegans.
Vegan Entrées at Red Lobster
Sadly, Red Lobster doesn’t offer any vegan-friendly entrée. However, you can customize their pasta and rice bowls to make them fit your dietary guidelines.
Reb Lobster entrées that can be made vegan include:
- Sesame-Soy Salmon Bowl – Order it without salmon
- Baja Shrimp Bowl – Ask them to not add shrimp, sour cream, and jalapeno ranch slaw in the bowl
- Kung Pao Noodles With(out) Crispy Shrimp/Lobster/ Chicken – Order without meat
- Lobster and Langostino Pizza – Order without seafood
Some vegans have also reported getting pasta in marinara sauce upon request. If it suits your taste buds, try making a request at your local Red Lobster.
Vegan Sauces and Dressings at Red Lobster
Make your salad, veggies, rice bowls, and pasta more delicious with these vegan toppings at Red Lobster:
- Champagne vinaigrette – unfortunately, this is the only vegan dressing available at Red Lobster
- Marinara sauce
- Cocktail sauce
- Pineapple relish topping
- Pico de Gallo
- Soy ginger glaze
- Mustard sauce
- Olive oil
Vegan Drinks at Red Lobster
You can find a range of vegan beverages at Red Lobster, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. I am listing them down here for your convenience:
Note: Not all of these drinks may be available at all Red Lobster locations. The exact drinks variety may vary across states. However, rest assured that you will find a good variety of vegan options in both the drinks categories.
Vegan Non-Alcoholic beverages at Red Lobster
- Diet Coke
- Mountain Dew
- Diet Pepsi
- Dr. Pepper
- Iced Tea
- Hot Tea
Vegan Alcoholic Drinks at Red Lobster
- Bloody Mary
- Pina Colada (without dairy, which often comes from ice cream. Ask if they have dairy-free, vegan ice cream, else order the drink without it).
Does Red Lobster Offer Anything Vegan in Dessert Category?
To the utter disappointment of those with a sweet tooth, there’s no vegan-friendly dessert at Red Lobster.
However, if you really crave something sweet and can’t wait or have time to go somewhere else for dessert, you can order fresh orange wedges from Red Lobster’s kids’ menu.
Are the Biscuits at Red Lobster Vegan?
If you have ever had the biscuits that they offer at Red Lobster (and that too as many as you want, on dine-in), you would find it hard to resist the urge to eat them again. But, are Red Lobster biscuits vegan?
To most vegans’ utter dismay, Red Lobster’s mouthwatering biscuits are not vegan – they contain milk and cheddar cheese (they’re called cheddar bay biscuits).
Other Non-Vegan Items at Red Lobster
Since Red Lobster is essentially a seafood restaurant, the majority of the items on their menu are non-vegan. They include:
- All varieties of seafood, chicken, and beef
- Mozzarella cheese sticks
- Classic Caesar salad
- Seafood stuffed mushrooms
- New England clam chowder
- Lobster bisque
- Tartar sauce
- Waqyu bacon cheeseburger
- Macaroni and cheese
- Cheddar bay biscuits
- All desserts
Food Items at Red Lobster That May Appear Vegan but Are Not
Following are the few food items on Red Lobster’s menu that may be mistaken as vegan by some, but they’re not:
- Mashed Potatoes – They contain dairy
- Whipped Sweet Potato – It also contains dairy and is also served with pecans roasted in honey, which most vegans avoid
- Loaded Seaside Fries – Contain dairy
- Coleslaw – As per the allergen guide provided by Red Lobster, their coleslaw has eggs in it
- Pina Colada Sauce – Even though Pina Colada is essentially dairy-free, the sauce offered at Red Lobster contains dairy, as per the restaurant’s allergen guide.
How to Order a Vegan Meal at Red Lobster?
When at Red Lobster, vegans don’t have the luxury of ordering an already available combo or complete meal as most of their entrées are non-vegan. However, as discussed above, you can order certain items on the entrée menu without meat, dairy, or any other animal-derived ingredient. Pair your customized entrée with one or more of the vegan sides at Red Lobster, mentioned above, and a vegan drink of your choice to enjoy a complete vegan meal at a seafood restaurant.
In case you’re still confused and need some help with ordering a vegan meal at Red Lobster, check out this video:
Does Red Lobster Have Vegetarian Options?
Yes, Red Lobster does offer some vegetarian options and a few other items can be customized to fit a vegetarian diet (just like in the case of vegan). A user provides suggestions for some good vegetarian options at Red Lobster…
Want to learn about the vegan status of some of the most widely consumed store-bought products? Read my articles Are Doritos Vegan and Are M&M’s Vegan to find out if these popular snacks fit vegan dietary guidelines or not!