Whether you want to grab breakfast super early in the morning while heading to college or work, satisfy your fast-food craving late on a weekend night, or want to grab a drink for the road on a long journey, McDonald’s is one option you can expect to always be available.
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny the accessibility of McDonald’s. It’s everywhere, always available, and affordable. No wonder it’s one of the most popular fast food brands worldwide.
But does McDonald’s have vegan options?
Let’s dig into the restaurant menu and find out all about McDonald’s vegan options.
Is There Anything Vegan at McDonald’s?
A fast-food chain that started as a hot dog stand and is known for its beefy, cheesy burgers doesn’t seem like a great place for vegans. Sadly, it’s true in the case of McDonald’s, at least in the US.
Although close to 10 million people are now estimated to be plant-based in the US, fast-food chains are slow to adapt their menu according to their dietary needs. And McDonald’s, despite being the country’s largest fast-food chain, is the slowest to respond.
McDonald’s outlets in the US do not have any plant-based range for their non-meat-eating customers, which is surprising and quite frustrating, too, especially when you know that they have a whole vegan menu in the UK.
What Can Vegans Eat at McDonald’s in the US?
At present, you just have to rely on a couple of options. One of them is an accidentally vegan item on McDonald’s menu, while the other can be customized upon request. These include:
- Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
- Baked Apple Pie
These are the only real foods that are vegan at McDonald’s. However, vegan options on McDonald’s menu also include:
- Apple Slices
- Some Sauces
Some of you may also be able to get your hands on a meatless burger at McDonald’s (more on it later in the article). Some sources assert that you may also do a DIY veggie wrap or sandwich at McDonald’s.
Read on to learn how you can DIY the veggie wrap, what’s the deal with the McDonald’s plant-based burger, and know more about other plant-based options.
I will also answer some common questions people ask about McDonald’s food items, so keep reading.
McDonald’s Vegan Options – A Quick Overview
Vegan options at McDonald’s are currently limited to just the following few items:
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
Oatmeal is vegan at many eateries. But, at McDonald’s, they add cream to their cereal bowl. Fortunately, though, you can have it omitted from your order upon request.
Oatmeal isn’t something you would want to eat at a fast-food restaurant, but it’s a healthy food choice and makes a good breakfast option, especially for those who often find themselves grabbing breakfast from outside while on their way to college or work.
It’s healthy, filling, and tastes good too.
For those who don’t know, McDonald’s oatmeal is made with whole-grain oats, brown sugar, fresh red and green apples, cranberries, and two types of raisins (we’re not considering cream here because that will be omitted when you’re eating vegan at McDonald’s).
Pair your bowl of McDonald’s vegan oatmeal with a drink of your choice (the restaurant suggests Premium Roast Coffee with it, and I recommend the same) to have a quick, tasty, filling, and wholesome breakfast.
Baked Apple Pie
McDonald’s fresh-baked apple pie features a gooey sweet apple filling wrapped inside a soft, flaky crust and a sugar sprinkle on top, adding just the perfect amount of crunch to it.
And even though most pie crusts contain butter, and this one feels buttery too, it doesn’t have butter or any other animal fat. This is the accidentally vegan item on McDonald’s menu I mentioned earlier.
Doubtful? Take a look at the ingredients list yourself. Here’s what McDonald’s apple pie is made of:
Although McDonald’s Apple Pie doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients, it has Palm Oil. If you have been vegan for any length of time, you would know palm oil is a controversial ingredient and sparks debate quite frequently in the vegan community.
If you are new to veganism and aren’t aware of the controversy surrounding palm oil, check out my article Are M&M’s Vegan to get an insight.
I know, no one would ever want to order apple slices at a restaurant. I would prefer staying hungry than eating apple slices at McDonald’s.
But, if you like apples a little too much or have a child with you who doesn’t want to eat the oatmeal that you’re getting for yourself, this is an option for you at McDonald’s.
Listed in the Snacks & Sides category on McDonald’s menu, these are just simple, plain apple slices; nothing unusual or exciting here. And they don’t even have peanut butter at McDonald’s that you can get separately with these to enjoy a quick, healthy, delicious snack.
McDonald’s Vegan Sauces
You won’t likely be interested in learning about vegan sauces at McDonald’s because what’s the point of knowing about them when there are no vegan-friendly savory foods on the menu to order these with.
But, my job is to tell you about all the vegan choices available at a restaurant. And for the sake of it, I am including the list of vegan sauces available at McDonald’s in this article. There aren’t very many options here as well, though.
Your choices include:
- BBQ Sauce
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Maple Syrup (If you’re getting apple slices, you may get maple syrup on the side for some flavor)
The vegan status of McDonald’s Spicy Buffalo Sauce isn’t clear. Some sources include it in the list of vegan-friendly McDonald’s sauces, while others don’t. So, your best bet is to ask the server at your local McDonald’s outlet.
McDonald’s Vegan Beverages
The category where you have the largest variety of vegan-friendly options at McDonald’s is ‘beverages.’ While you can’t have their best beverages – smoothies, shakes, lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiato – you still have some options to choose from.
Your choices for vegan drinks at McDonald’s include:
- Premium Roast Coffee
- Hot Tea (black tea with floral, orange notes)
- Iced Tea – Sweetened
- Unsweetened Iced Tea
- Diet Coke
- Fanta Orange
- Dr. Pepper
- Hi-C Orange Lavaburst
- Minute Maid Premium Orange Juice
- Minute Maid Tropical Mango Slushie
- Minute Maid Strawberry Watermelon Slushie
- Honest Kids Appley Ever After Organic Juice Drink
McDonald’s Plant-Based Burger – What’s the Deal with It?
If you follow vegan food news, you must know that McDonald’s announced a meatless burger earlier this year in collaboration with Beyond Meat.
In case you’re wondering what happened to that and why I haven’t included it in this McDonald’s vegan menu, it’s because the burger isn’t available nationwide.
McDonald’s plant-based burger, called McPlant, is only available at 600 locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco Bay areas.
Moreover, as per the announcement made earlier this year when McDonald’s decided to roll out its new meatless burger to 600 locations after silently testing it at eight of its outlets in California, the burger was only offered for a limited time.
So, we don’t know if it’s still available even at those 600 locations (I tried searching online, but there’s no news about it).
Is McPlant Vegan?
Even though we’re not sure if McPlant is still available anywhere, it’s better to discuss its vegan status in case some of you may find it at your local McDonald’s.
You will likely be bummed out (I was) to know that McDonald’s plant-based burger doesn’t come standard as vegan-friendly.
It features a meatless patty, made with Beyond Meat, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and American cheese inside a sesame seed bun.
You can, however, place a custom order for it to be made vegan. To get a vegan burger at McDonald’s, ask for the McPlant without mayonnaise and cheese (McDonald’s doesn’t have dairy-free cheese or vegan mayo).
McDonald’s does plan to make this meatless burger available nationwide in the US. But when? We don’t know that yet.
There’s no official announcement, but some unofficial sources say it will be rolled out to all McDonald’s locations in 2022, while others expect it to be available nationwide by early 2023.
Another thing about McPlant that is worth mentioning, because it matters to many vegans, is that although it uses a plant-based patty, it’s cooked on the same grill that’s used for regular meat-based burgers.
What About the DIY Vegan Wrap/Sandwich?
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, some online sources assert that you could also do a DIY vegan wrap or sandwich at McDonald’s as their flour tortillas and English muffins are vegan-friendly.
Get your choice of bread from these and request them to fill it with the veggies that they use as toppings in burgers and vegan-friendly sauces. And there you have it – a DIY vegan wrap/sandwich from McDonald’s.
You may go for this option if you’re at McDonald’s with someone else or when there isn’t any other eatery around and you’re starving. But I don’t see anyone getting this DIY wrap or sandwich in normal circumstances. You don’t go to McDonald’s to eat bread with vegetables.
You can make way better vegan wraps at home. Check out the following video for a quick, simple recipe of vegan wraps that you can also make ahead and freeze for those rushed mornings when you have no time to cook.
McDonald’s Vegan Menu FAQs
Although there’s little room for confusion regarding what’s vegan at McDonald’s and what’s not, it’s best to answer a few questions people often ask about various McDonald’s items to make things clear once and for all.
- Is there a vegan burger at McDonald’s?
Currently, McDonald’s doesn’t offer any burger in the US that comes standard as vegan-friendly. As mentioned above, there is a meatless burger available at selected locations.
However, it contains a couple of non-vegan ingredients. You have to place a custom order for it to be made vegan.
- Are McDonald’s fries vegan?
This is probably the most frequently asked question by vegans, and as much as we wished for the answer to be to your liking, it sadly isn’t. McDonald’s fries are not vegan. They contain natural beef flavoring, which has milk derivatives in them. Learn more about McDonald’s fries here.
- Are McDonald’s hash browns vegan?
No. Just like fries, McDonald’s hash browns also contain Natural Beef Flavor with milk derivatives.
- Are McDonald’s pancakes vegan?
Named ‘hotcakes,’ McDonald’s pancakes contain eggs and milk. Hence, they are not vegan.
Conclusion – Is McDonald’s Vegan-Friendly?
After reading the article, I don’t think anyone would ask this question. But, let me say it out loud one last time for anyone who would want to hear it – McDonald’s is not vegan-friendly in the US.
Honestly, it’s a shame that the country’s largest fast-food restaurant chain isn’t considerate of people’s varying dietary choices and the ever-increasing vegan community.
It has only introduced one meatless item until now, and that too is available at selected locations in specific areas. Moreover, even that meatless item isn’t vegan-friendly.
I seriously believe it’s high time that restaurants, especially the big ones, start considering all the popular diets (not just veganism) and offer at least a few food options for their followers.
This could include vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher, and halal options, to name a few, in addition to vegan options.
But, until the restaurants realize their responsibility, we have to make do with whatever little choices there are.
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about vegan options at other leading fast-food chains in the country? Check out my article Burger King Vegan Options to know if you can find vegan burgers there and what other plant-based options they have on the menu.