How to Eat Vegan at McDonald’s

In the past, McDonald’s briefly introduced a vegan-friendly burger called the McPlant at select test locations across the United States. Unfortunately, due to slow sales, this plant-based burger option did not make its way to a nationwide release. Nowadays, McDonald’s may not be the top choice for vegans seeking fast food, as other chains like Burger King, Subway, and Panda Express offer more vegan-friendly options.

However, if you find yourself at McDonald’s and need to stick to your plant-based diet, don’t worry – there are still a few vegan items you can enjoy. In this article, we will explore the different vegan options available at McDonald’s, including their McCafé Bakery, breakfast items, beverages, sides, burgers, sandwiches, and sauces.

Key Takeaways

  • McDonald’s has limited vegan options compared to other fast-food chains
  • Vegans can still find a few items to enjoy, like sides and beverages
  • This article covers various vegan options at McDonald’s, from breakfast to sauces

What’s on the Menu for Vegans at McDonald’s?

If you’re seeking vegan options at McDonald’s, you’ll find that choices are limited – especially in the United States. However, there has been noteworthy progress in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands.

In the UK, you can enjoy a delicious McPlant burger, complete with plant-based mayonnaise and dairy-free cheese. Other vegan-friendly items include chicken wraps, fried veggie dippers, French fries, mini carrots, and fruit sticks.

Recently, McDonald’s introduced the Double McPlant in locations across the UK and Ireland. Additionally, Germany now boasts plant-based McNuggets made in collaboration with Beyond Meat. So, McDonald’s fans in the US can only hope that more vegan options reach their shores soon.

Vegan Fast-Food Choices That Have Briefly Graced Menus

It isn’t just the fleeting presence of the McPlant that has caught your attention in the fast-food scene. Burger King launched the Impossible Whopper in 2019, a plant-based sandwich you could customize by removing the mayonnaise. Though this item stays, others haven’t fared as well.

Panda Express stirred interest with its Beyond Orange Chicken. Starting in a few locations in the summer of 2021, it expanded to 2,300 US restaurants by September 2022. Yet, by January, this limited-time treat was no longer available.

Burger King

El Pollo Loco introduced its vegan Chickenless Pollo in July 2020. Unlike other chains collaborating with plant-based meat companies, El Pollo Loco created their own soy-based pollo. Unfortunately, it was discontinued within months.

Kentucky Fried Chicken also had a brief foray with its Beyond Fried Chicken, using Beyond Meat as the base. Initial trials started in 2019, and by January 2022, it reached 4,000 US locations. Alas, like other limited-time plant-based dishes, it vanished without a hint of returning. So, you see, vegan fast-food items have come and gone, leaving us curious about which new options await our taste buds.

Vegan Choices at McDonald’s

Don’t worry, even if there aren’t any green leaves or ‘V’ icons on McDonald’s menu, you can still find vegan options to satisfy your appetite! You’ll discover some accidentally vegan items, and with a few tweaks, you can enjoy plant-based dishes. Embrace your vegan diet while enjoying McDonald’s offerings, even a Happy Meal can be adjusted to cater for your preferences.

1 McCafé Bakery and Sweet Treats

You’ll be glad to know that the delicious Baked Apple Pie at McCafé is a delightful vegan treat, making it a unique find among fast-food pastries. It’s a sugar-dusted delight, and currently, it’s the only vegan option you’ll find in their bakery and sweet treat offerings. Enjoy a combination of apple slices, apple pies, desserts, and chocolate chip cookies for a well-rounded selection of sweet treats.

2 Breakfast

Be cautious with hash browns at fast-food joints, as some, like McDonald’s, contain animal-derived ingredients, including milk and wheat-based beef flavoring. Steer clear of oatmeal too, as it contains light cream. For a vegan breakfast treat, your best option is a simple, yet delicious, plain English muffin. Enjoy your morning meal consciously!

3 Tasty Beverages

At McDonald’s, you can find a nice variety of drinks to quench your thirst. Frozen Fanta slushies in Blue Raspberry and Coca-Cola flavors are vegan-friendly choices. If you’re in the mood for fruit juice, try the Honest Kids Appley Ever After Organic Juice Drink or the Minute Maid Premium Orange Juice. Coffee lovers can enjoy a cup of black coffee, just remember that they don’t offer non-dairy milk options yet. Keep in mind, it’s better to skip the smoothies as they contain dairy-based yogurt.

4 Sides

It might surprise you to learn that McDonald’s fries aren’t vegan in the US, as they contain beef flavoring from milk. As a general tip, avoid potato-based options at McDonald’s. On a brighter note, their apple-based items are vegan-friendly and healthier. Treat yourself to some apple slices from the sides menu, as these are a great guilt-free choice in the midst of other tempting dishes.

5 Burgers and Sandwiches

For now, opting for a condiment-focused sandwich with a bun, ketchup, mustard, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles is your best bet within the US if you’re seeking vegan sandwich options. However, it might be worth exploring sandwiches at alternative places.

6 Sauces

You may wonder what to pair with plant-based dishes, especially without French fries or sandwiches. Don’t worry! Vegan-friendly options include the classic ketchup and mustard, as well as Tangy Barbeque and Sweet ‘N Sour dipping sauces. Take advantage of these condiments by bringing them home to savor with your favorite vegan nuggets. Delight in the diverse flavors these sauces offer, making your meals more enjoyable and satisfying.

Frequently Asked Questions

Vegan Options at McDonald’s

There are a few vegan options at McDonald’s. Some of the options include:

  • Apple Slices
  • Garden Salad (with balsamic vinaigrette dressing)
  • Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (without the cream)
  • Side Salad (without cheese and croutons)

Vegan Breakfast Items Availability

Unfortunately, McDonald’s doesn’t have many vegan breakfast options. However, you can order the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal without cream.

Vegan-Friendly Fries at McDonald’s

In some countries, McDonald’s fries are vegan-friendly, while in others – like the United States – they contain beef flavoring. Always ask at your local restaurant to confirm.

Any All-Vegan McDonald’s Locations?

Currently, there are no specific vegan McDonald’s locations. However, there are a few cities with McDonald’s that offer a wider variety of vegan menu items.

Vegan-Inclusivity in McDonald’s Breakfast Menu

As mentioned earlier, the only vegan-inclusive breakfast item currently is the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal without cream.

Are McDonald’s Burger Buns Vegan?

McDonald’s burger buns are vegan-friendly in most locations, as they usually do not contain any dairy or egg products. However, it’s still a good idea to ask your local restaurant to be sure.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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