Vegan at McDonald’s: The Ultimate Survival Guide

While McDonald’s may not be your first thought for vegan-friendly dining, there are a few plant-based options available amidst the sea of burgers and fries. This survival guide shows you how to hack the McDonald's menu and details everything you can order that's vegan.
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A vegan sign in front of a McDonald's restaurant in a city.

How many times have you been on a long road trip, hunger pangs gnawing at your stomach, only to see the familiar golden arches of a McDonald’s beckoning your omni companion with promises of a “Happy Meal”? While they eagerly veer off the highway, your heart sinks as you contemplate your limited options.

What can a vegan possibly find on the menu at McDonald’s? Is it time to scavenge the bruised apple stashed under the seat or crack open that emergency vegan protein bar from last year?

Fear not, we’re here to guide you through the maze of options for vegans at McDonald’s, steering you away from pitfalls and toward the plant-based menu items at this ubiquitous fast food spot.

How to Order Vegan at McDonalds Photo

Does McDonald’s Have Vegan Burgers?

While McDonald’s has launched a McPlant Burger and vegan McNuggets internationally, currently, McDonald’s locations in the U.S. don’t offer vegan burgers—or any plant-based meat alternatives. But with the growing trend of vegan options at other fast-food chains, it’s hopeful that McDonald’s will soon follow suit.

mcdonalds mcplant burger photo news

In recent years, we’ve witnessed a surge in vegan offerings at major fast food players like Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, and Del Taco, setting a precedent for McDonald’s to join the movement.

Unfortunately, for now, patrons will need to travel to the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, or Ireland to experience the McPlant burger.

Vegan Options at McDonald’s (Full Menu)

While McDonald’s is far from a prime dining choice for vegans, there are a handful of vegan-friendly finds on the menu. While we eagerly anticipate McDonald’s expanding its vegan menu, let’s explore the current options available for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and discover ways to get creative with these choices.

Vegan Breakfast Options at McDonald’s

  • English Muffin (plain)
  • Fruit and Maple Oatmeal (ask to be made with water and without milk or cream)
  • Apple Slices
A cup of McDonald's oatmeal topper with fresh fruit and dried fruit.

McDonald’s Vegan Burger Options

  • Burger bun with lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, and a ketchup and mustard packet
  • Tortilla with lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, and a ketchup and mustard packet
  • Artisan roll with a side of lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, and a ketchup and mustard packet
Vegan McDonalds Order USA Plain Bun With Lettuce Tomato No Meat

Plant-Based Salad Options

  • Southwest Salad (order without cheese or Southwest dressing)
  • Premium Bacon Ranch Salad (order without cheese, bacon or Ranch dressing)
  • Side Salad (order without cheese or dressing)

Vegan Dessert at McDonald’s

McDonalds Apple Pie Vegan Dairy Free Photo

Plant-Based Dipping Sauces and Condiments

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Spicy Buffalo
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • Maple Syrup
  • Balsamic and White Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Raspberry Walnut and Red Wine Vinaigrette
  • Classic Oil & Vinegar
  • Zesty Italian Dressing
  • Sesame Ginger Dressing
  • Citrus Splash Dressing

Vegan-Friendly Drinks at McDonald’s

  • Soda
  • Hot coffee (without milk or cream)
  • Iced coffee (without milk or cream)
  • Orange juice
  • Apple juice
  • Iced tea (without milk or cream)
  • McDonald’s Slushies
How to Order Vegan at McDonald’s Video

What is Not Vegan at McDonald’s (in the US)?

The following popular menu items at McDonalds contain animal products and are not suitable for vegans.

  • French Fries at McDonald’s in the US are not vegan-friendly because they contain “Natural Beef Flavor,” which is derived from wheat and milk, and they are fried in beef fat. Try making sweet potato fries, polenta fries, tofu fries, or zucchini fries instead!
  • Hash Browns on McDonald’s menu in the US are not suitable for vegans as they contain milk and are also fried in beef fat. These homemade hash brown waffles are so much better anyway!
  • Donut Sticks at McDonald’s are not vegan due to the presence of milk in both the sticks and the accompanying sauce. Explore our vegan donut guide for plant-based options.
  • Shakes at McDonald’s are not vegan-friendly since they contain milk. Make your own vegan milkshake instead!
  • McDonald’s Fruit Smoothies are not considered vegan as they contain yogurt. Make your own vegan smoothie with these recipes!
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies on the McDonald’s menu are not suitable for vegans as they contain both egg and milk. However, you can make your own vegan chocolate chip cookies in a snap, or order some from an online vegan bakery!

Bring Your Own Extras and Add-Ons

If you’re able to keep some of these in your car, pocket, or purse, you’ll improve your chance of having a satisfying meal when visiting McDonald’s. They’re also perfect snacks on their own!

  • Packets of nut butter (to top a toasted English muffin, tortilla or artisan roll)
  • Hummus (to top a toasted English muffin, tortilla or artisan roll)
  • Avocado (to top a toasted English muffin, tortilla or artisan roll)
  • Packages of nuts (add to salad or oatmeal bowl)
  • Fresh fruit (add to salad or oatmeal bowl)
  • Dried fruit (add to salad or oatmeal bowl)
  • Individual container of plant-based milk (to add to coffee or tea to drink alongside a meal, or to add to the oatmeal bowl)
  • Reusable cutlery, especially a knife (to cut the avocado or spread nut butter)

Common Questions

Are McDonald’s Fries Vegan?

Unfortunately, no. The french fries at McDonald’s aren’t vegan—well, at least not in the United States. They contain beef flavoring that is made from milk. While some other countries, like Canada, do offer vegan-friendly fries, if you find yourself in the US, you’re out of luck.

Typically, when vegans visit burger joints, they can find solace in knowing that the fries are often a safe bet. The fact that this isn’t the case at McDonald’s is a disappointment we may never quite come to terms with.

Are McDonald’s Apple Pies Vegan?

Yes, sweet friends! The McDonald’s apple pies are vegan! They are what we call “accidentally vegan.” McDonald’s certainly didn’t design them for specifically vegans, but they don’t happen to include any animal products! No meat, no eggs, no milk, no butter, and no dairy whatsoever.

Are the McDonald’s apple pies made with real apples?

Yes, in fact they are! They also contain apple powder (for deeper flavor), wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, apple powder, palm oil, salt, and high-fructose corn syrup.

Is the sugar in these Apple Pies vegan?

Yes! It’s not made with vegan-certified sugar, but generic granulated sugar is still generally considered vegan because there are no animal products in the sugar. If you’d like to learn more about the vegan status of sugar, read our “Is sugar vegan?” article.

What do the McDonald’s apple pie nutrition facts look like?

While I doubt many people are swinging by McD’s for a healthy treat, you may be curious about the nutrition profile. McDonald’s apple pies contain 230 calories each, 2 grams of plant-based protein, 11 grams of fat, and 33 grams of carbs. There we have it! Imperfectly and accidentally vegan apple pies at McDonald’s.

When Will There Be Vegan McDonald’s Nuggets?

Once the vegan McDonald’s burger is a permanent fixture on the vegan McDonald’s menu worldwide, the obvious next step are vegan nuggets. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, but we haven’t heard any rumors about vegan McDonald’s nuggets yet. Considering the success of the McPlant burger, it would be very surprising if McDonald’s isn’t already working on some secret vegan nugget magic behind the scenes.

What is the McPlant Burger Patty Made From?

The new McPlant is made with a Beyond Meat burger patty that has actually been certified vegan by the UK’s Vegetarian Society. Not only is the McPlant burger completely vegan, but McDonald’s has also made the decision to cook the vegan patties on a separate grill from their other meat and dairy items. While cooking vegan items on a grill that’s not exclusively vegan is acceptable to many (but not all) vegans, it’s still a very nice gesture that we certainly appreciate.

What is on the McPlant Burger?

The standard fixin’s that come on a McPlant burger—besides the Beyond Meat patty—include vegan sandwich sauce, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and the much anticipated McDonald’s vegan cheese! According to McDonald’s, they tested dozens of vegan cheese brands from many different countries before setting on coconut oil-based cheese slices made in collaboration with an Irish company called Kerry. The vegan cheese slices look just like a classic orange slice of American cheese—and many people have said they tastes nearly identical!

When Will the Vegan McDonald’s Burger (McPlant) Be Available in the USA?

After decades of offering zero options catered toward vegans, McDonald’s has finally turned a corner with the international launch of the new vegan McPlant Burger! This is essentially a vegan BigMac. They are doing a slow-but-steady rollout of the McPlant burger, and have thus far tested the McPlant burger in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, and the U.K. It’s gotten rave reviews and is now starting to be tested in select U.S. McDonald’s locations.

Vegan Dishes Served at International McDonald’s Locations

  • McPlant Burger (UK)
  • Vegan McNuggets (Germany)
  • Vegetable Deluxe Sandwich (UK)
  • Spicy Veggie Wrap or Meal (UK)
  • Muffin with Jam Meal (UK, includes english muffin, jam, black coffee, and a package of apples and grapes)
  • Big Vegan (Germany)
  • Vegan Vegetable Nuggets (Norway)
  • Falafel Nuggets (Sweden)
  • McVegan (Finland)
  • El Veggo (Finland)
  • McAloo Tikki (India)
McPlant Burger Taste-Test Video

Other Fast Food Chains With Vegan Burgers

We know how it goes, sometimes you land at a McDonald’s and have to make it work. However if you’re able to convince your friends to swing by another eatery, fast food chain, or heck—even a gas station instead, you’ll likely have far better luck getting a filling meal. Here are some of the best fast food options for vegans.

Knowing that there are various vegan options at mainstream burger chains makes it much easier when traveling or hanging out with friends. These are tried and true chains which offer more than one choice for a meal. We promise you won’t leave hungry!

Hands holding an Impossible Whopper in its wrapping.

Looking for the best filling fast food meals for vegans? The following fast food restaurants have the biggest selections of meal options for vegans.

  • Chipotle – Chipotle offers a world of vegan options, including Sofritas tofu, beans, fajita veggies, and fresh salsas. Customize your bowl, burrito, or tacos for a satisfying plant-based meal.
  • Taco Bell – Taco Bell’s dedicated vegan menu features favorites like the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme and Bean Burrito. You can also swap meat for beans in various menu items for a delicious vegan twist.
  • Del Taco – Del Taco’s Beyond Avocado Taco, made with Beyond Meat, avocado, and veggies, is a vegan favorite. Create your custom vegan burritos and tacos with bean substitutions and a variety of plant-based toppings and sauces.

How to Order Vegan at Other Fast Food Chains

Don’t miss our comprehensive vegan fast food guide that breaks down what you can get at all the major fast food chains, such as:

  • Chick-Fil-A – It’s nearly impossible to satisfy your hunger at Chick-fil-A as a vegan. You’re looking at bland salads without the fixings and waffle potato fries. They also provide vegan-friendly sauces like BBQ, Polynesian, and Sriracha.
  • Wendy’s Vegan Options – Wendy’s is another tough spot for vegans, but our guide shows you how to piece together side dishes.
  • Dominos – You can hack the Domino’s menu to create a vegan pizza with vegetable toppings and other altered options. But if you’re stuck here for pizza night, consider bringing your own vegan cheese.
  • Starbucks – Starbucks caters to vegans with dairy-free milk alternatives like almond, soy, and coconut milk. You can customize your coffee, tea, or cold brew with these options, and they have also offered occasional vegan food items like the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich.
  • Arby’s – While Arby’s doesn’t have an extensive vegan menu, they do offer a Crispy Vegan Wrap made with plant-based Beyond Meat. It’s a flavorful choice for those looking for a meatless option at Arby’s.

Vegan Fast Food Guide—How To Order Vegan At The Most Common Chain Restaurants

At the time of this vegan McDonalds article, all of the foods mentioned above are vegan. Since restaurants constantly update their menus, add or take away items, and reformulate menu items, please keep this in mind when ordering your food. There may be new items that are vegan and not listed above or items listed here as vegan, which are no longer vegan. Take care to double-check. Good luck!

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12 comments
  1. Eating vegetarian at McDonald’s is so tough these days! I’m excited about the McPlant, but no luck yet!

  2. These are the saddest meals ever, at least there’s oatmeal lol. Would prob get gaz station snacks over those in a pinch.

  3. The apple pies have l-cysteine hydrochloride. Doesn’t that derive from hair and feathers?

  4. You never mentioned peanut butter , peanut butter on a English muffin or roll would be a lovely option.

    • Oh, good idea! Do you know if they offer peanut butter at all locations?

  5. Sadly, McDonald’s is not offering salads any longer 🙁

  6. Apple pie isn’t vegan if it made of brown sugar since that’s made of animal bones

  7. BreakfastLunchDinner says:

    This is a small but pertinent distinction: McDonald’s has not used beef tallow to deep fry its French fries and hash browns since the late 1980s. It’s cost-prohibitive. Those potato products do, however, contain added “natural beef flavor” in the United States. To approximate the taste of being fried in beef fat, as opposed to vegetable oil. They smell like formaldehyde to me.

    • Hi there! I’ve just checked the US website and the ingredients in the fries still contain milk. Here is what McDonald’s listed: “Ingredients: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor [wheat And Milk Derivatives]*), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (maintain Color), Salt. *natural Beef Flavor Contains Hydrolyzed Wheat And Hydrolyzed Milk As Starting Ingredients. Contains: Wheat, Milk.” Sadly, they’re not vegan-friendly. I believe the fries in the UK do not contain dairy, so they’re an option for vegans.

      • I hate being stuck in the US. I need to move overseas when I have the money and freedom.

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