Everything That’s Vegan at Potbelly: Salads, Sandwiches, and More

|Updated Oct 18, 2022
Instagram / @potbelly

Potbelly Sandwich Shop sells 37 million sandwiches every year and serves Americans at nearly 700 locations nationwide. Impressively, the Chicago-based sandwich shop promises to prepare your tasty, hot (or cold) sandwich within eight minutes. At first glance, vegan customers might feel the plant-based options on Potbelly's famous menu are lacking, but after a closer look, this national sandwich chain ranks among the best for plant-based customers thanks to its customization.

Named after the potbelly stove, Potbelly's menu is packed to the brim with hot, winter-worthy options for affordable prices. The most appealing aspect of Potbelly's menu is that the menu is customizable. Even though Potbelly's menu features a limited number of vegan or vegetarian-friendly options, sandwiches can be packed with the chain's extensive veggie toppings and spreads. And we can't forget the healthy, veggie-packed salads on the menu that can satisfy anyone's hunger.

Americans eat over 300 million sandwiches every day, and Potbelly caters to vegan and non-vegan customers alike. Despite the only permanently vegan menu item being a peanut butter jelly sandwich, the customizable menu offers countless possibilities for plant-based sandwich lovers.

Everything That's Vegan at Potbelly

Potbelly's Meatless Sandwiches

The trick to eating plant-based at Potbelly is knowing how to substitute. Check out the best tricks to crafting the best plant-based sandwich. However, if you are avoiding honey, make sure you substitute the multi-grain bread for one of the plant-based bread available.

  • Veggie Melt: The Veggie Melt comes with avocado and mushroom, but you can add several toppings including lettuce, tomato, pickles, and any of the salad toppings. Order without the cheese or mayo.
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich: A classic PB&J that's perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
  • Mediterranean Sandwich: This sandwich is topped with hummus, artichokes, roasted red peppers, and cucumbers. Order without feta and chicken, and add on some of your favorite veggies instead.

Potbelly's Vegan-Friendly Salads

  • Farmhouse Salad: First off, order this salad without meat, cheese, or egg, and choose a vegan dressing. The cucumbers and tomatoes are served on a bed of field greens and you can add plenty of veggie toppings to supplement the omitted ingredients.
  • Apple Walnut Salad: Served with dried cranberries, walnuts, apples, and grapes on a bed of field greens drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is a sweet and savory blend. Order without meat and cheese.
  • Powerhouse Salad: This bed of field greens is topped with avocado, hummus, cucumber, and tomatoes. Ask to remove the meat and egg, and add your favorite veggies on top.

Vegan Condiments at Potbelly

Several plant-based condiments are available to add to your customized sandwich, including:

  • Mustard, Ketchup, and Other Basic Condiments
  • Olive Oil
  • Hummus
  • Italian Seasoning

Dairy-Free Dressings at Potbelly

Choose one of these plant-based dressings when ordering your salad. Make sure to avoid the creamy buttermilk rank that comes on the Farmhouse salad.

  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Non-Fat Vinaigrette
  • Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Potbelly Vinaigrette

Plant-Based Sides at Potbelly

Potbelly's plant-based menu is mostly lacking in the sides department. You can order a vegetable soup and several flavors of chips, but there's not much for vegan customers yet.

  • Garden Vegetable Soup: Ask for No Croutons
  • Several Chip-Flavors: Varieties change from location to location.

Vegan Bread & Bagels at Potbelly

Some locations feature plant-based bagels except cheddar-herb flavor. But when you order your sandwich, choose one of these three loaves of bread to avoid the multi-grain bread!

  • “Skinny” White Bread
  • “Big” White Bread
  • White Bread

Sandwiches and Salad Add-Ons at Potbelly

There are plenty of ingredients at Potbelly that can supplement your customized plant-based orders. Choose from this list of ingredients to optimize your vegan sandwich or bulk up your salad.

  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Cucumbers
  • Diced Apple
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Grapes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Pickle
  • Red Onions
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Tomato

Plant-Based Fast-Food

This September, research revealed that food production is responsible for between 90 and 99 percent of all deforestation, causing significant damage to the environment and fueling the worsening climate crisis. But is there a direct solution? Yes! Eating plant-based can curb the environmental damage onset by the agriculture industry by lowering the dependency on the meat and dairy industry.

Despite providing 18 percent of the world’s calories, meat and dairy products require 83 percent of global farmland. But the increase in vegan fast food has helped 630,000 animals exit the food system. While Potbelly has not introduced plant-based meat and cheese options, several other fast food chains including Burger King and Pret A Manger have incorporated plant-based meats.

For example, picking out a plant-based meal twice a week for a year is the equivalent of planting 14 billion trees. So, next time you visit Potbelly, try a customized veggie sandwich.

For more plant-based fare near you, visit The Beet's Find Vegan Near Me articles

Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

1. Burger King

Turns out there’s a lot more to rely on than a salad if you’re eating plant-based. Burger King has the Impossible Whopper featuring a meatless patty as well as a few secretly vegan options such as the French Toast Sticks and Hashbrowns.

2. White Castle

Known for its mini square-shaped sliders, this hamburger chain jumped on the plant-based bandwagon at some participating locations. You can find an Impossible Slider on some White Castle menus.

3. Del Taco

This was the first national Mexican fast-food chain to offer Beyond Meat at the company’s 580 restaurants across the country. Del Taco has the Beyond Avocado Taco on the menu along with the Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito and Avocado Veggie Bowl.

4. Carl's Jr.

Another brand synonymous with beef burgers, Carl’s Jr. offers several plant-based options for veggie and plant lover such as Beyond Famous Star Burger and Guacamole Thickburger.

5. Taco Bell

This fast-food restaurant may have been one of the first you frequented while transitioning to plant-based eating. That’s because Taco Bell has eight million vegetarian combinations and sells 350 million vegetarian items a year through menu substitutions or ordering off their vegetarian menu. In fact, they were the first quick-service restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA) certified food options.

6. Starbucks

From the time it started offering breakfast sandwiches in 2006, the coffee conglomerate became a competitor in the fast-food space. You can get your favorite hot and cold beverages made with almond, coconut or oat milk but there are also plant-based food options available such as the Baja Black Bean Veggie Wrap, bagel with vegan cream cheese and Impossible Breakfast Sandwich.