McDonald’s isn’t known for its vegan or even vegetarian dishes, but a little tweaking and customization can let you have a satisfactory meal. This guide covers all the vegan options available in McDonald’s, including the soon-to-arrive McPlant line. As a bonus, we’ve suggested some DIY options for you to customize your very own vegan meal at McD.
In November last year, McDonald’s announced its much-awaited meatless line, McPlant, in 2021, co-created with Beyond Meat. McD international President Ian Borden hinted that the line might have breakfast sandwiches and chicken substitutes in addition to a meatless patty. The McPlant burger is already available at certain test sites in Sweden.
What Led To The Launch Of McPlant?
While competitors such as Burger King, White Castle, Carl’s Jr., and even KFC have plant-based menu items, McDonald’s had not ventured into exclusive vegan-friendly options until recently. If we go by the study done by Technomic Inc., as many as 15% of American restaurants offered meatless burgers in March 2019.
Surprisingly, meatless burgers are popular among meat-eaters as well.
Customers have been demanding the release of a McVeggie for years, including Change.org petitions like this. PETA, through its decades-long Mc Cruelty campaign, had been supporting these demands. That being said, this isn’t the first time that McDonald’s is featuring a vegan burger. In the past, its Chicago headquarters temporarily added Indian McAloo Tikki burger to its menu.
In the past few years, McDonald’s has curated vegan-friendly options for its branches in Germany, U.K., Hong Kong, South Africa, Singapore, Norway, and even Canada. Until now, the company had strategically downplayed the importance of vegan-based meals in McDonald’s USA.
Currently Available Vegan Options
When it comes to vegan options, McDonald’s USA offers the least choices. Even French fries and hash browns contain milk and beef flavors, making them unfit for vegetarians and vegans alike. Shakes, fruit smoothies, donut sticks, chocolate chip cookies all have dairy products.
No date of launch has been specified by McDonald’s for the release of McPlant. Meanwhile, a little creativity and exclusions can help you have a decent, vegan meal at McD in the US.
Vegan options include fruit & maple oatmeal cooked in water (without milk or cream), a pack of apple slices, salads (without cheese or dressing), certain dressings and sauces, ice slushies, apple and orange juices, and our favorite – apple pie.
Fruit And Maple Oatmeal
One safe option is McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal. While ordering, request them to remove the cream and cook it in water instead of milk. The oatmeal makes for a delicious and healthy breakfast option.
While you won’t drive to McDonald’s just to have a side salad with lettuce and tomato, it is still a vegan-friendly option if you are already here. You can order a Southwest Salad without the Southwest dressing, chicken, or cheese, a Premium Bacon Ranch Salad without bacon, cheese, or ranch dressing, or a side salad without the dressing or cheese. The side includes baby spinach, romaine, baby kale, grape tomatoes, carrots, and red leaf lettuce.
When it comes to dressings, you can always choose a non-dairy option. The Southwest Salad would be the most filling with its black beans, poblano peppers, corns, and a cilantro-lime glaze.
When it comes to vegan options, McDonald’s offers Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette And Creamy French, Citrus Splash Dressing, Red Wine Vinaigrette, Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette, Zesty Italian Dressing, and Sesame Ginger Dressing.
Sauces And Dippings
Spicy Buffalo, tangy BBQ sauce, sweet and sour, ketchup, maple syrup, and mustard are all safe options. There are plenty of vegan-safe options for sauces and dippings, but not many dishes to use them with. If fries are made available without the beef flavor, then these sauces could be useful.
Apple slices that come with a kid’s happy meal are among the not-so-great vegan options on the menu. You can order them as a side dish. You can even add them to your salad and sweeten things up a bit.
One no-conditions-attached vegan option is McDonald’s apple pie. The dairy and egg-free golden crispy apple pastry is simply scrumptious.
When it comes to drinks, McDonald’s offers many great options. Sodas, Minute Maid slushies (Blue Raspberry, Fruit Punch, and Sweet Punch), apple and orange juices are all vegan-friendly. Plus, you can order hot coffee, ice coffee, and iced tea without the milk or cream. However, the shakes, McFlurries, and smoothies are non-vegan.
With a little bit of creativity, you can mix and match certain items and make a complete meal for yourself. You can fashion yourself a Southwest wrap by ordering the vegan version of Southwest salad (without cheese, dressing, and chicken), along with a flour tortilla and vegan-friendly sauce (choose any from the above-listed options). Fill the salad inside the tortillas and season it with some dressings. To top it up, you can order a beverage and enjoy your customized meal.
Another DIY option is a vegetable roll sandwich. Order any plain burger buns, exclude the meat, mayo, and cheese, and ask for additional tomato, lettuce, and pickles with dippings of your choice, and a beverage to go.
If you’re picking up food via a drive-through, you can even bring some extra stuff from home and create the vegan meal of your choice. You can even top your apple slices or salads with home-brought nuts or nut butter.
McDonald’s is known to serve dishes customized to a country’s taste preferences. While McDonald’s vegan options are exclusively available in many locations abroad, McDonald’s USA needs to diversify its range. Introducing the McPlant line in collaboration with Beyond Meet is a most welcome step.
Nevertheless, apple pie is the highlight among vegan options. We have our fingers crossed that the new vegan-friendly range will make us vegans say “I’m loving it,” too!