From veggie burgers to the iconic McPlant, here are all the McDonald's vegan options on the menu across the UK in 2023.
The UK’s fast food chains built their brands selling meat products. Now they’re cashing in on plant-based alternatives in response to a shift in eating habits towards more sustainable and ethical foods.
KFC and Burger King’s vegan options have already found favour with the vegan community, leaving McDonald’s falling behind.
However, McDonald’s is now ramping up its vegan menu to meet consumer demand following pressure to offer more environmentally friendly meat-free options.
McDonald’s vegan menu at a glance – here are your vegan options
McDonald’s UK menu offers a small number of vegan options including:
- McPlant Burger (McDonald’s vegan burger)
- The Spicy Veggie One (McDonald’s veggie wrap)
- Veggie Dippers
- McDonald’s Fries
- McDonald’s Hash Browns
- Cucumber Sticks
- Melon Fruit Bag
Here’s the full info on the veggie options you can find on McDonald’s vegan menu…
McDonald’s Veggie Burgers and Sandwiches
McPlant: vegan burger with patty from Beyond Meat
In 2021, McDonald’s finally released its first vegan burger in the UK, the McPlant. Initially released on a trial basis, the McPlant became a permanent addition to the menu in 2022.
The veggie burger took 3 years to develop and promises the “same iconic taste” as McDonald’s classic burgers. To make the meat-free burger, McDonald’s teamed up with plant-based brand Beyond Meat to offer their realistic plant-based patties.
McDonald’s McPlant burger ingredients: Vegan Sesame Bun, Mustard, Ketchup, Vegan Sauce, Fresh Onion, Pickles, Lettuce, Tomato and Vegan Cheese. It is cooked separately using dedicated utensils.
The McPlant burger features a Beyond Meat patty topped with vegan sauce, mustard, ketchup, onions, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes in a vegan sesame bun. Image © McDonald's
Following the success of its McPlant burger, McDonald’s kicked off Veganuary celebrations in 2023 by making its vegan burger bigger and better than ever before.
The fast-food chain announced it would adding the new Double McPlant to its vegan menu, which boasts two patties from plant-based brand Beyond Meat.
The new supersize sandwich features a sesame bun, mustard, ketchup, sandwich sauce, fresh onion, pickles, lettuce, tomato and vegan cheese that ‘tastes just like [its] iconic cheese slices’ as well as the two plant meat patties.
According to McDonald’s, the item is vegan certified and cooked separately from its other burgers and sandwiches, using dedicated utensils.
Image © McDonald's
The Spicy Veggie One: A vegan wrap
Before the McPlant, getting a vegan burger would have involved a bun filled with condiments, so it’s good news that there are now two options for vegans.
McDonald’s The Spicy Veggie One ingredients: Veggie dippers made from yellow split peas, tortilla wrap, spicy relish, tomato, lettuce and onions.
Looking for a vegan lunch option at McDonald's? Try the Spicy Veggie One wrap with veggie dippers and spicy relish. Image © McDonald's
Are McDonald’s Veggie Dippers Vegan and Gluten Free?
Veggie Dippers: Red pepper and pesto goujons – 2 or 4 pieces
Prepared in the restaurants using a non-hydrogenated vegetable oil, McDonald’s Veggie Dippers are vegan and gluten-free, meaning everyone can enjoy them.
McDonald’s Veggie Dippers ingredients: Yellow Split Peas, Tomato, Breadcrumb, Cooked Arborio Rice, Rice Flour, Sundried Tomato Pesto, Tomato Paste, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Basil, Red Onion, White Sugar, Garlic Puree, Cornflour, Black Pepper, Red Pepper
McDonald's Veggie Dippers are vegan and gluten-free. Image © McDonald's
Vegan sides at McDonald’s
Can vegans eat McDonald’s fries?
In the UK, McDonald’s fries are vegan as they contain no animal ingredients. But beware if you’re heading out to the States as in the US the fries are coated in a beef flavouring.
McDonald’s fries ingredients: Potatoes, oil, salt
In the UK, McDonald's fries are vegan, but in the US they are coated in beef flavouring. Image © McDonald's
Are McDonald’s Hash Browns vegan?
Hash Browns: fried potato cakes
Hash browns are indeed vegan at McDonald’s in the UK. Sadly, this is pretty much it on the vegan breakfast front though. It’s a no-go for any of the muffins as they all contain meat or eggs and their muffins contain dairy fat.
In the US, hash browns contain milk and are fried in beef fat, so therefore don’t come under a vegan menu.
McDonald’s hash browns ingredients: Potatoes, oil, black pepper
Plant-based breakfast options are limited, but the hash browns are suitable for vegans. Image © McDonald's
Salad options are, understandably, limited at the fast-food chain. However, health conscious customers can pick up the following to enjoy with their meal:
- Cucumber Sticks
- Melon Fruit Bag
Vegan desserts at McDonald’s
Is McDonald’s Apple Pie vegan?
Few people can resist the fast-food chain’s iconic Apple Pie with their crispy exterior and hot, cinnamon-spiced apple filling.
There’s good news for vegans wanting something sweet to round off their meal as McDonald’s Apple Pie is vegan.
According to the company, McDonald’s Apple Pie contains no ingredients of animal origin and is cooked in dedicated frying vats using a non hydrogenated blend of rapeseed and sunflower oil (100% vegetable oil).
McDonald's Apple Pie is vegan as it contains no animal ingredients and is fried in dedicated frying vats of hydrogenated oils. Image © McDonald's
However, the company warns that there is a small risk of cross contamination as the oil they’re cooked in may have come into contact with oil used to fry its chicken or fish products.
McDonald’s Apple Pie ingredients: Ingredients: Water, Apple, Wheat Flour, Wheat Flour (contains Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin), Vegetable Oil (Palm, Rapeseed), Sugar, Modified Maize Starch, Dextrose, Salt, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg), Flavourings, Cassia Extract, Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid).
Vegan drinks at McDonald’s
The drinks menu at McDonald’s offers a variety of vegan options for customers to quench their thirst.
However, if you want a coffee then be aware that’s it’s not Vegetarian Society Vegan-approved, as even a black coffee may contain traces of milk.
Here are all the vegan drinks at McDonald’s UK:
- Tropicana Orange Juice
- A range of bottled waters
- Coca-Cola Zero Sugar
- Coca-Cola Classic
- Diet Coke
- Fanta Orange
- Robinsons Fruit Shoot
- Sprite Zero
Have McDonald’s always had good vegan options?
Where once you’d struggle to find anything suitable for vegans from the fast food giant, McDonald’s is finally starting to accommodate vegans customers.
However, it’s take a long time to get this far, and in the UK we’re still trailing behind other European countries who have a better variety of options in-store.
Following trials in October 2021, the chain rolled out its first ever plant-based burger to every restaurant across the UK and Ireland in January.
Joining forces with Beyond Meat, over three years they developed a patty to add to some other vegan options on their menu.
Michelle Graham-Clare, Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald’s UK and Ireland said: “We saw a remarkable response to the trial period back in October and now McPlant is on the high-street, in retail parks and service stations all over the UK and Ireland so all of our customers will be able to try it.”
The roll out of the McPlant across America came after the UK, but to a more lukewarm response, despite animal rights organisation PETA giving away free McPlant burgers across Texas and California.
The McPlant has been well received in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Austria – who experienced the roll-out prior to the launch in the States.
In the McDonald’s Sustainability Plan 2021, the chain announced that it aims to “have a market leading vegan plant-based food and drinks offering by 2025”.
The McPlant burger had proved a popular choice for plant-based customers in Europe. Image © McDonald's
Which McDonald’s do the Vegan Burger?
The McPlant has now been rolled out across the UK, so the theory is that all branches should be able to provide this latest burger from McDonald’s. It’s a long-time coming, so let’s hope plant-based is here to stay.
Other vegan options at McDonald’s across the globe
If you’re in the UK, currently breakfast is falling a bit flat at McDonald’s with your best option being the hash browns.
The other thing not yet available to vegans in the UK is a vegan McFlurry ice cream. In 2022, McDonald’s launched a vegan KitKat McFlurry in Germany made with dairy-free soft serve and pieces of vegan KitKat.
Additionally, McDonald’s Germany also offers a vegan chocolate McFlurry and even a dairy-free Sundae.
Germany is also ahead of the curve with plant-based burgers too as it launched the Big Vegan TS in 2019. This veggie burger features Nestlé’s plant-based Incredible Burger, mustard, ketchup, onions, tomatoes, and greens.
McDonald’s vegan options in Finland are pretty varied too with plenty of choice – something we’re still waiting for here in the UK.
McDonald’s has also launched several other vegan options worldwide, including:
- Fresh Vegan TS Burger (Germany).
- Vegan Burger TS (Germany)
- McFlurry Chocolate Vegan (Germany)
- McFlurry Chocolate Vegan Kitkat and Strawberry Sauce (Germany)
- McSundae Chocolate Sauce Vegan and Strawberry Sauce (Germany)
- McVegan Burger (Sweden)
- McVegan Burger (Finland)
- Rye McVegan (Finland)
- Vegan Burger (Finland)
- Classic McWrap Vegan (Finland)
- McAloo Tikki Burger (India)
All the vegan items listed on the McDonald’s menu are Vegetarian Society vegan-approved. Where this is not shown, traces of animal products may be present in food and drink (for example, the black coffee).
McDonald's Germany has a number of vegan options on the menu such as the Fresh Vegan TS Burger and a vegan McFlurry. Image © McDonald's
Should vegans eat McDonald’s?
Many vegans chose to be so because of animal ethics. Therefore, purchasing food from a chain with questionable animal welfare standards will still be off the cards for many.
However, purchasing vegan products from non-vegan companies helps to show there is a demand for meat-free menu items. If they don’t see demand then they will not be motivated to replace animal products for vegan ones thereby reducing animal suffering.
Plus, it’s not always simple to find vegan food on the go so often large chain restaurants with vegan menus are the only options available to us.
With 1,300 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK alone it means vegan food is now almost always accessible.
Nevertheless, it’s up to the individual whether they decide to support fast food chains like McDonald’s.
What next for McDonalds?
It’s fair to say that without McDonald’s collaborating with Beyond Meat, McDonald’s in the UK would be a bit of vegan desert.
Luckily, with their new forward-thinking strategy, there looks to be a shift towards more sustainable and plant-based solutions.
By shifting from animal-based meat to plant-based meat, we can help address concerns related to resource conservation and animal welfare.’
As for whether or not McDonald’s as a concept will appeal to more vegans, that remains to be seen.
But, McDonald’s still has a long way to go because its plant-based menu as options are still limited.
In 2022, activists from Animal Rebellion staged a blockade at McDonald’s distribution sites, demanding the chain commit to becoming fully plant-based by 2025.
Although unlikely that a full transformation to a fully vegan restaurant will take place, McDonald’s promise to deliver more vegan options goes someway to them acknowledging the mood of societal change.
At least now there is a bit more in the way of choice. Where fast food was at one time reserved only for those who consumed animal products, now the offering from McDonald’s is a bit more inclusive.
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