McDonald’s Best Vegan Options You’ll Love

McD’s can be a tough spot for those on a plant-based diet, but there are still a few vegan options at McDonald’s you can find!

close up of McDonald's coffee in a paper cup with logo

Running in for a fast-food meal at McDonald’s? Truthfully, there are few vegan options at McDonald’s—even the fries contain beef flavor!—but you can find a few things to nibble on.

And hopefully, you’re stopping by for breakfast.

McDonald's fruit and maple oatmeal in a bowl

Fruit & maple oatmeal

Looking for a quick vegan breakfast at McDonald’s? Order their fruit and maple oatmeal, one of the best vegan options at McDonald’s.

The oats are made with water, whole-grain rolled oats, brown sugar, diced apples, cranberries, raisins—and light cream. The cream isn’t vegan, so make sure to order your oatmeal with no cream.

Each bowl is 320 calories and offers a good source of fiber, with 4 grams, plus a good amount of iron and 6 grams of protein.

Oats pack a specific type of fiber called beta glucan, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes, research shows.

One downside: This bowl of oats is pretty sweet, with 18 grams of added sugar.

You can decrease some of the sugar by reducing or removing the brown sugar. With naturally sweet ingredients, like apples and cranberries, I bet you won’t even miss it.

Ingredients:

  • Oatmeal ingredients: Water, whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, modified food starch, salt, natural flavor, barley malt extract, caramel color
  • Diced apples ingredients: Apples, calcium ascorbate
  • Cranberry raisin blend ingredients: Sweetened dried cranberries (sugar, cranberries), California raisins, golden raisins, sunflower oil, sulfur dioxide as a preservative (contains sulfites)
  • Light cream ingredients: Milk, cream, sodium phosphate, datem, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, carrageenan
side view of fresh apple slices on a smooth surface

Apple slices

Although there aren’t vegan options for lunch or dinner at McDonald’s, if you have the option to snag someone’s side, grab the apple slices. They’re crisp and juicy—and will get the job done for a quick snack.

Each small pack has just 15 calories and no fat. Although apples are packed with fiber, the skin is removed on these apples, and each pack has 0 grams of fiber.

Ingredients: Apples, calcium ascorbate

close up of McDonald's coffee in a paper cup with logo

Coffee and iced coffee

McCafé may have a lot of coffee options—from maccchiatos to cappucinos—but they’re all made with whole milk, and no vegan-friendly plant-based milks are offered.

If you’re stopping buy for coffee and looking for vegan options at McDonald’s, you’ll want to pick up either the premium roast coffee, an Americano, or an iced coffee.

Ask for no cream in your iced coffee, and also know that the iced comes with liquid sugar added. A small has 21 grams of sugar (the equivalent to about five teaspoons), so consider asking for less sugar, none, or the sugar-free syrup.

Ingredients:

  • Premium roast coffee ingredients: Brewed coffee
  • Iced coffee ingredients: Liquid sugar (sugar, water, potassium sorbate (preservative), citric acid), premium roast coffee (brewed coffee), ice, light cream (milk, cream, sodium phosphate, datem, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, carrageenan
side view of Fanta orange drink in containers on ice

Soda, juice, and other drinks

Grabbing a drink? Here are your vegan-friendly options at McDonald’s:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Diet Coke
  • Dr Pepper
  • Fanta Orange
  • Frozen Coca-Cola
  • Frozen Fanta Blue Raspberry
  • Hi-C Orange Lavaburst
  • Hot tea
  • Lemonade
  • Minute Maid orange juice
  • Sprite
  • Sweet tea
  • Unsweetened iced tea

Keep in mind that even though these beverages are vegan options at McDonald’s, most of the drinks are total sugar bombs. A small lemonade contains 34 grams of added sugar, which is more than eight teaspoons.

The American Heart Association recommends that men limit themselves to nine teaspoons per day, while women stick to six teaspoons per day. Drinking a lemonade on occasion may be OK for you depending on your diet goals.

But regularly sipping sugar-sweetened drinks is associated with weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, among other health problems, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unsweetened iced tea and hot tea have no added sugar.

top down view of generic BBQ sauce packet

Condiments

You didn’t exactly come for the BBQ sauce. But just in case, here are your vegan condiment options at McDonald’s: You can go ahead and have the Tangy Barbeque sauce, Spicy Buffalo Sauce, Sweet N’ Sour sauce, ketchup, and plain mustard.

One caveat: Sauces can be a surprising source of added sugar. Their barbecue sauce, for example, has 9 grams of added sugar, or the equivalent of about two teaspoons of the sweet stuff. Just keep that in mind!

Ingredients:

  • Tangy Barbeque Sauce Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, water, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, distilled vinegar, salt, contains 2% or less: modified food starch, spices, soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt), soybean oil, dextrose, xanthan gum, natural smoke flavor, garlic powder, cellulose gum, chili peppers, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), onion powder, sherry wine powder, natural flavors
  • Spicy Buffalo Sauce Ingredients: Cayenne pepper sauce (cayenne red peppers, distilled vinegar, water, salt, garlic powder), water, soybean oil, modified food starch, xanthan gum, beet juice (color), salt, natural flavor, garlic, calcium disodium etda (to protect flavor)
  • Sweet ‘N Sour Sauce Ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, water, apricot puree concentrate and/or peach puree concentrate, distilled vinegar, contains 2% or less: soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt), salt, modified food starch, sherry wine powder, dextrose, soybean oil, xanthan gum, spices, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural flavors, garlic powder, cellulose gum, dried chili peppers, onion powder, caramel color, extractives of paprika (color)
  • Ketchup Packet Ingredients: Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, natural flavors
  • Mustard Ingredients: Distilled vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt, turmeric, paprika, spice extractive

Surprising options that are NOT vegan

There are a few non-vegan options at McDonald’s that, at first glance, seem vegan, but are actually made with animal ingredients. (Womp-womp.)

top down view of two packets of McDonald's french fries

Fries and hashbrowns

They’re both potatoes, so what could go wrong? Well,  the fries and the hashbrowns are made with natural beef flavor, which also contains milk derivatives.

You’ll have to skip the fries and grab the apple slices when you need a snack. It might not be the same, but at least you’ll sneak some extra fruit into your day—and that’s not bad at all.

close up of cardboard package of baked apple pie
MANILA, PH – APR. 10: McDonalds apple pie on April 10, 2020 in Manila, Philippines.

Baked apple pie

In a surprising twist, there are a lot of rumblings that the baked apple pie from McDonald’s is not vegan. It contains a dough conditioner called L-cysteine, which can be derived from duck feathers or human hair.

There are vegetable-derived versions of L-cysteine, however, McDonald’s is not clear about the source of the ingredient in their products. Until then, you’ll want to avoid the baked apple pie.

More vegan restaurant guides

Looking for more vegan options at other restaurants? Discover what plant-based items are on the menu at these other locations:

The bottom line

There are just not a lot of vegan options at McDonald’s. If you are popping in, the best time for vegans to go to McDonald’s is in the morning for breakfast where you can grab an oatmeal alongside a hot or iced coffee.

Sources

Plant-Based Eating |

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