How many times have you been on a long road trip and the only highway food sign points to a McDonald’s? Your omni friend pulls off the highway feeling elated at the thought of a so-called “Happy Meal”—but you only feel pain.
What can a vegan possibly eat at McDonald’s? Do you need to resort to the bruised apple under the seat or to the Larabar that you bought last year? At World of Vegan, we want to help!
We’ll be taking you through everything you can eat that’s vegan at McDonald’s, as well as what to avoid.
Be Forewarned: Your Options Are Limited
Sadly, at this time the list of vegan-friendly foods you can feel good (but let’s be real—not great) about ordering at McDonald’s is very small. We go into the true vegan options down below, but first, take a look at this list of items that you might have thought were safe, but are sadly not vegan.
Unfortunately NOT Vegan at McDonald’s:
- French Fries (contain milk and fried in beef fat)
- Hash Browns (contain milk and fried in beef fat)
- Donut Sticks (contain milk in sticks and sauce)
- Shakes (contain milk)
- Fruit Smoothies (contain yogurt)
- Chocolate Chip Cookies (contain egg and milk)
Yes, friends. You read that right. Even the french fries at McDonald’s aren’t vegan. Generally, when vegans swing by burger joints, we can sigh and say, “Well, at least the fries are vegan.” That this is not the case at McDonald’s is a travesty we may never get over.
Vegan Options at McDonald’s
There aren’t any plant-based meat options at McDonald’s yet, but there have been hints that they may offer a veggie sausage or plant-based burger in the future. And if the fast-growing vegan options at other fast-food restaurants are a sign, it’s only a matter of time for McDonald’s to follow suit. Cross your fingers!
We’ve seen the new vegan options explode in popularity at fast-food giants like Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Taco Bell, Del Taco, and more. So, c’mon McDonald’s…what are you waiting for?
For now, here’s what you can order from the McDonald’s vegan menu—and how you can get creative with these very limited options.
- Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (ask to be made with water and without milk or cream)
- Apple Slices
- English muffin
- Flour tortilla
- Artisan Roll
- Southwest Salad (without cheese or Southwest dressing)
- Premium Bacon Ranch Salad (without cheese, bacon or Ranch dressing)
- Side Salad (without cheese or dressing)
Newman’s Own Dressings:
- Balsamic and White Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Raspberry Walnut and Red Wine Vinaigrette
- Classic Oil & Vinegar
- Zesty Italian
- Sesame Ginger
- Citrus Splash
Dipping Sauces and Condiments:
- Spicy buffalo
- Sweet and Sour
- Maple Syrup
- Apple slices
- Baked apple pie (yes, it’s accidentally vegan!)
- Hot coffee (without milk or cream)
- Iced coffee (without milk or cream)
- Orange juice
- Apple juice
- Iced tea (without milk or cream)
How to Make Meals From The McDonald’s Vegan Menu
- Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (made with water), a coffee, and a side of apple slices.
- A toasted English muffin with margarine*, jelly*, or maple syrup* with a side of apple slices and an orange or apple juice. *(Some restaurants may have these available in the morning or during the day. Ask the cashier when ordering.)
- Baked apple pie alone or along with either idea above
Lunch & Dinner Ideas:
- Southwest Salad (with no cheese or Southwest dressing), dressing, beverage
- Premium Bacon Salad (with no cheese, bacon or Ranch dressing), dressing, beverage
- Southwest Wrap—order the Southwest Salad (no cheese or Southwest dressing), a flour tortilla (or two!), dressing, beverage. Ask for the flour tortilla(s) on the side and assemble your own veggie wrap by filling the tortilla with salad and topping with a dressing.
- Veggie Artisan Roll Sandwich—ask for any of the burgers or sandwiches without the meat, cheese, and mayo. Ask for extra lettuce, tomato, and pickles. Request a dipping sauce (like bbq, mustard or spicy buffalo), if desired, and a beverage.
- Basic Side Salad and a Wrap/Sandwich combo
- Apple slices
- Apple Pie
- Any of the breakfast, lunch, dinner ideas
- Apple or orange juice
- Coffees or teas (without milk or cream)
Bring Your Own Extras & 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)
Find More Vegan-Friendly Fast Food Options
We know how it goes, sometimes you land at a McDonald’s and have to make it work. But 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.
Fast Food Chains With Vegan Burgers
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!
Fast Food Chains With Great Vegan Options
- Taco Bell
- Del Taco
Growing Vegan-Friendly Fast Food Restaurants
Here are some up and coming chains that offer fantastic fast food, including mouth-watering veggie burgers, golden fries and scrumptious shakes!
- Veggie Grill (several locations in Northern and Southern California)
- Amy’s Drive-Thru (Rohnert Park, CA—more locations coming soon!)
- Burger Patch (Sacramento, CA)
- VeganBurg (San Francisco, CA)
- Friendly Toast (MA and NH)
How to Order Vegan at Other Chains
Have you found any other options to be veganizable? Did you find something amazing that we missed? Send us a message and let us know and tag #worldofvegan and @vegan on Instagram to share your favorite vegan at McDonald’s creations with all of us!
Disclaimer: At the time of this article (last updated in July of 2020), 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!