Vegan Guide to McDonald’s: Best Menu Options and Swaps

Vegan mcdonald's guide

Treehugger / Catherine Song

McDonald's isn't the easiest place for a vegan to eat. Currently, there are no vegan entrees on the menu. A plant-based patty is coming later in 2021, but for now, the options remain quite limited.

However, if you're in a pinch, it's possible to put together a decent vegan meal at McDonald's. Here's everything you need to know to place your order.

Best Bet: DIY Veggie Sandwich

Your best bet is to turn a McDonald's burger into a veggie sandwich with a few modifications. Here are two options we recommend.

Modified Big Mac

Order the Big Mac without the beef patty and cheese. Swap the Big Mac sauce (which is not vegan) for one of the two vegan sauce options: Tangy Barbeque Sauce or Sweet 'N Sour Sauce.

The Big Mac sesame seed bun and all the other toppings (lettuce, pickle slices, and onions) are vegan. You can give some extra heft and flavor to your meal by adding tomatoes, ketchup, or mustard.

Congratulations! You have made the best possible "burger" using everything that could reasonably be put on a bun.

Modified Basic Hamburger

You can also order a basic hamburger without the patty. The regular bun and the toppings (pickle slices, onions, ketchup, and mustard) are all vegan, and as always, you can add lettuce and tomato to dress it up a bit.

Treehugger Tip

McDonald’s fries and hash browns aren’t vegan, so ordering a combo isn't cost-effective — unless you substitute apple slices as your side.

Vegan Breakfast

McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, ordered without the light cream, is the only true vegan breakfast available on the menu.

The other options for creating a simple vegan breakfast are:

  • Apple slices
  • Plain flour tortilla
  • Maple syrup

The rest of the breakfast menu isn't vegan. For example, the biscuit contains buttermilk, McGriddles contain whey, and the hotcakes are made with both whey and eggs.

Vegan McCafé Drinks 

Coffee drinkers, rejoice: McDonald’s brewed coffee is vegan.

Get fancy and order an Americano with Rainforest Alliance Certified espresso, and add the French vanilla syrup if you like—it’s also vegan.

However, the mocha and caramel coffee drinks are not vegan.

Build Your Own Vegan Happy Meal

If you need a blast from the past, it’s pretty easy to make a vegan Happy Meal. Order the hamburger without the patty and add lettuce, tomato, and your choice of condiments and sauces. Swap the fries for sliced apples, and select water or juice in lieu of the milk.

Coming Soon: The McPlant

McDonald's is launching a plant-based patty, the McPlant, in partnership with Beyond Meat. The McPlant has already been unveiled in the Europe and is expected to be available in the U.S. by the end of 2021.

FAQs

Are McDonald's fries vegan?

McDonald's fries are not vegan. The fries as well as the hash browns contain "natural beef flavoring" made with milk derivatives. These ingredients give McDonald’s fries their distinctive taste—and make them a non-option for vegans.

Does McDonald’s have salads?

McDonald's does not currently carry any salads. All salads were removed from the menu during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to their website, McDonald's has only temporarily removed items in order to keep customers and employees safe.

Can you make a vegan sandwich at McDonald’s?

Sadly, you cannot. Even without the chicken or the Spicy Pepper Sauce (which contains eggs), the potato roll that houses all of McDonald’s sandwiches contains honey. 

Does McDonald’s have vegan desserts?

McDonald’s Baked Apple Pies appear to be vegan at first glance. But a closer look at the ingredients reveals L. cysteine, a dough conditioner typically derived from feathers or human hair—not exactly an appealing vegan ingredient.

Likewise, none of the McCafe bakery items or fruit smoothies are vegan.