No matter how old I get, I’ll never stop celebrating by collecting the wealth of birthday freebies available near and far. From full meals to sweet treats, you could easily live off of these generous handouts for a least a week.
My original birthday freebie roundups have been some of my most popular posts, so I know I’m not alone in that revelry! Given how many things have changed in our post-COVID world, it seemed high time to update these lists with the most current offerings. First, a quick refresher course on maximizing your birthday haul.
Tips For Collecting Birthday Freebies
To play the game, you’ve gotta know the rules. Unfortunately, the rules are different for each establishment and subject to change at any time. Keep in mind these quick tips for the best results.
- Sign up for loyalty programs at least one month before your birthday. Some won’t grant you that big b-day bonus if you subscribe right before the event.
- Download the apps. Even if you only have it on your phone long enough to redeem, it’s necessary in some cases (to scan a barcode, special token, or for proof of ID) and simply a whole lot easier in most others.
- Read the fine print. What was free last year might now require a purchase this year or only grant you a certain percentage off your bill.
- Go during off-peak hours. If possible, make it easier on the staff, who may or may not be trained to know how to handle special requests properly.
- Be kind to staff. It should go without saying, but this is a gift; accept it graciously. Be patient, wait in line like everyone else, and tip whenever possible.
What Does Not Qualify As A Birthday Freebie
For the sake of clarity, let’s go over what doesn’t make the list. You may wonder where some of your favorite deals are, but if they’re not included here, it’s a good chance they’re:
- Not vegan (contains meat, dairy, eggs, or honey)
- BOGO deals
- Free only with a purchase
- Percentage off your total bill
- Part of a paid membership program
- Not available at all locations
- Unofficial or off the books (maybe that server was just flirting with you)
Nationwide Birthday Freebies
Large franchises with outposts all across the US often have the most robust rewards programs to encourage brand loyalty. Use that to your advantage and start racking in the free food, drinks, cosmetics, and more!
Sign up for Starbucks Rewards and get a free drink or prepared food item on exactly the date of your birthday. Almost any of the drinks can be veganized thanks to the option to substitute oat milk, soymilk, almond milk, or coconut milk. Just avoid the pumpkin spice, white mocha, caramel brûlée syrups, caramel sauce, java chips, and of course, whipped cream. Many stores now offer a highly serviceable Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box if you’re hungry for something more substantial.
Register for Real Rewards and let the froyo flow! You have classic fruity soft serve sorbet options along with richer, creamier, oat milk based frozen desserts. That means you can spoon into luscious brown sugar vanilla, blueberry pancake, cinnamon oatmeal cookie, and chocolate souffle froyo without a drop of dairy. Get your first free 3-ounce swirl as soon as you sign up, and another on your birthday.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Welcome to Moe’s! If you’re familiar with this ubiquitous rally cry, you already know that there’s plenty of tofu, beans, rice, and plant-based goodness to go around at this quick service establishment. What you might not know is that by signing up for the Moe’s Rockin’ Rewards, you can walk out with a completely free burrito on your birthday. Load it up with all the good stuff, including guacamole, and come hungry because these are some behemoth tortilla torpedoes.
Download the Veggie Grill Rewards app to your phone to cash in on $5 off your purchase, both when you sign up and when your birthday rolls around! That’ll net you a free soup, mac and cheese, mini wrap, black bean and quinoa mini bowl, side of fries, cauli-mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh little salad, multiple veggie sides, or a dessert. With so many tempting choices, you can easily stretch that fun money into a satisfying snack or light meal.
Go froyo! Join the Pinkberry loyalty program through the mobile phone app for free and you’ll instantly earn a generous swirl of the frozen creamy confection with four toppings from the array of fresh fruits, nuts, crushed Oreos, mochi, and popping boba. Non-dairy froyo flavors will vary by store, but you can always count on finding at least one creamy treat to cool down with. Coconut and salted caramel coconut provide a more ice cream-like soft serve indulgence, while simply fruit peach passion and tropical mango offer a lighter, more refreshing experience. Take a peek at all the ingredient information here.
Snooze, An AM Eatery
Tempting as it may be to sleep in, resist hitting the snooze button to catch a free birthday pancake from Snooze. Join MySnooze Bennyfits to cash in on your fluffy flapjacks, and use the app to join the virtual waiting list while you’re at it. These early morning haunts are packed at daybreak, for good reason. The Vegan Bliss Pancakes with real maple syrup are worth setting an alarm for.
What’s a birthday without cake? Sprinkles understands that we’re not all up to the task of baking amidst all the festivities, which is why they’re kindly gifting all the lucky birthday girls and guys who join Sprinkles Perks with one cupcake on their big day. I hope you like red velvet because that’s the only vegan flavor, but hey, who could really complain about free cake?
I like Ike, and you will too once he treats you to a generous full meal for your special day. That includes any sandwich, along with a bag of chips and a drink. Almost anything on the extensive menu can be veganized, and some of the best combinations aren’t even listed in store so don’t be afraid to ask. One of my favorites is the Tom Brady; breaded meatless chicken, mushrooms, avocado, and non-dairy cheese. Sign up for the e-club to get this offer along with other discounts and bonuses throughout the year.
Rounding out the list with some non-edible pampering, this one is for all you glamorous makeup enthusiasts out there. Become a Beauty Insider to earn rewards for your cosmetic purchases all year round and cash in on free luxury minis on your birthday. Those deluxe samples change every year and there’s always two or three options to chose from, but bear in mind that not all brands are cruelty-free, so do your research before showing up at the counter to cash in.
When you setup your Ultamate Rewards account and provide your email address, Ulta Beauty will send you a voucher for a free beauty product to celebrate. This offering changes every month and may or may not be vegan, so always double-check the ingredients before heading out to claim yours. The gift is only available over the counter, so take your barcode straight to the checkout line to redeem.
Believe it or not, this old school ice cream parlor is churning out some vegan treats these days. Flavors vary depending on the store and time of year, but your best bets are Non-Dairy Mint Chocochunk or Lime Daiquiri Ice. Sign up for the Birthday Club and you’ll get to chill out with a free small scoop (4 oz) of any flavor your heart desires.
The Habit Burger Grill
The Habit Burger Grill has been offering free birthday Charburgers for years now, but only recently started offering veggie burgers as a regular menu staple. Now that’s something to celebrate all by itself! Join the CharClub and when your special day rolls around, order the veggie burger on a French roll, wheat or seeded bun, or wrapped in lettuce. The sourdough is grilled in butter, but there are so many other choices, you’ll have yourself a hearty meatless meal no matter what.
Curry Up Now
Spice things up with a free meal on the actual day of your birthday only when you sign up for the rewards program, in the form of either a bowl or a burrito. Make the most of your day and head straight for the Hella Vegan, stuffed with smashed samosas and chutney. There’s also the Hungry Planet featuring meatless chicken for us plant-based eaters that want more protein, but given the opportunity to have potatoes wrapped in pastry wrapped in rice wrapped in a tortilla, how could one resist all those comforting carbs?
The acronym may stand for The Country’s Best Yogurt, but a more modern definition should also include almond milk frozen desserts. In collaboration with Silk, TCBY now offers this chocolatey, refreshing treat for those who can’t get down with regular froyo. It also pairs beautifully with their fruit-based flavors, such as strawberry kiwi or mango. Sign up for the loyalty program to cash in on 4 ounces of the sweet stuff for free on your birthday, and don’t forget to swing by on National Froyo Day, February 6th, for a second round, pro bono.
Austin, Texas Birthday Freebies
Keep it weird and support standalone Austin stores and homegrown mini chains. The following shops will treat you generously on your special day, so don’t forget to return the favor and shop local on your unbirthday, too.
Amy’s Ice Creams
Amy’s Ice Creams is a treasured Austin establishment that got its start in 1984 and is still scooping strong. The menu at large is still firmly dairy- and egg-based, but you can always find at least one vegan specialty that will make you melt. Depending on the day, you might find chocolate, vanilla, coffee, or snickerdoodle ice cream, or a range of fruity sorbets. Snag a free scoop with one free “crush-in,” such as oreos, nuts, fresh fruits, or sprinkles on your birthday when you sign up for the Sundae News email list.
If you’re starting to feel the squeeze after so much celebratory indulgence, head over to Juiceland for a fresh start. Sign up on Juiceland Rewards and you’ll get a coupon for $5 off, valid for one week before and one week after your big day. That’s plenty to cover a wide range of smoothies, juices, shots, coffee, and even some snacks or light meals. It’s hard to resist the Jackfruit Carnitas Supreme, a meaty Tex-Mex bowl-in-one, but on a hot day, nothing hits the spot quite like the protein-packed Strawberry Mylkshake. Don’t forget, you can add in black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, sea salt, or habanero to your blend at no charge, any day of the year!
Anyone would be delighted to snarf down a 7-inch Vegetarian Sandwich at Snarf’s, free of charge, so make sure you sign up for the Insider’s eclub to log your birthday! You’ll get a voucher to use to place your order online or in the app, whenever the craving strikes during your birth month. Don’t forget to leave out the cheese and mayo to make this one vegan. Jazz it up with artichoke hearts or extra mushrooms for that meaty, umami bite.
RA Sushi really pulls out all the stops when you join The Hook Up. On your birthday AND half birthday, you’ll get a full $20 gift certificate to make it rain maki rolls. Don’t miss the lavishly adorned Vegetarian Roll, vibrant and verdant with cucumber, avocado, arugula, asparagus, and romaine hearts, all wrapped in green soy paper. Go to town with garlic edamame, shishito peppers, or spicy cucumber salad to complete the meal. If you dine in, you’ll even get your choice of flavored mochi for dessert, on the house! That’s a truly sweet AND savory gift!
It’s only natural to treat yourself for your birthday; of course, Mr. Natural would have you covered! Once you make your first purchase online or in store and sign up for emails, you’ll be a be poised to receive a gift of $5 credit, available through your entire birthday month, so you have time to carefully plan out your present. You may just need it too, since there are a TON of options. It may not be much in this economy, but $5 can get you a muffin (like the amazing banana chocolate chip muffins seen above), concha, empanada, scone, Bavarian cream cone, brownie, a wide variety of cookies, doughnut, chips and queso, guacamole, or salsa, TWO tamales… It’s a tough choice, but no matter what you go with, you’ll never be disappointed.
Bow down to Bao’d Up. These fluffy steamed buns are made fresh daily in each of four central locations. Plump, pillow-y soft, and stuffed with your choice of sweet or savory fillings, you have two vegan options to chose from: Creamy veggie for a healthy snack or red bean for a light dessert. Download the app, create an account (use my referral code 8770, please!), and snag 500 points on your birthday! That shakes out to 1 free bao, side of fries, or Thai tea (made with almond milk) depending on what you’re craving. While you’re there, you might as well treat yourself to a side of pickled veggies or slaw, because the mayo is all eggless, too.
Sign up for Chi’lantro Rewards to earn points for every purchase plus a $5 off coupon on your birthday. In terms of food value, that means you can get a free Small Ssäm with tofu, which you can lavish with tons of toppings. It’s basically an overstuffed taco with Korean flavors; what’s not to love? Happily, the kimchi (both cold and caramelized) is vegan, but skip the esquites, queso, fried egg, shredded cheese, magic sauce, and ranch to avoid dairy and eggs.
Put the pedal to the metal and cash in on $5 off for your birthday. As far as I understand, you just need to have an account through their online ordering system, though I’m sure it doesn’t hurt if you make a couple of reasonable purchases throughout the year. That discount translates to a free small entry level smoothie or 8 ounces of soup. I can’t tell you what to do, but it seems criminal to pass up the opportunity to spoon into a hot bowl of mulligatawny or tomato basil soup, free of charge. Plus, you can add bread or crackers at no extra cost!
Frozen Rolls Creamery
If your birthday happens to fall anytime between February and November, you’ll need this cool antidote to Austin heat. Sign up for the Frozen Friends program to not only get a Thai-style frozen rolled ice cream with two toppings on your birthday, but also right away, as soon as you register! They have dairy free alternatives to all of the flavors and a number of vegan toppings to lavish on your custom creation. Personally, I can never resist the call of green tea treats and almost always go for “matcha heaven”, but you can also start with a base of cookies and cream, butter pecan, or mud pie, just to name a few.
More Freebies Coming Soon
Do you know about more vegan birthday freebies to add to the list? Let me know and I’ll keep this post updated!