Are McDonald’s Fries Vegetarian Or Vegan? | The Great Debate

McDonald’s fries are undoubtedly the benchmark of the best fries that any fast food restaurant chain has ever had to offer. But, sadly there have been a lot of debates about whether or not these fries are vegetarian/ vegan. Let us take a look at the same in this blog post. 

McDonald's French Fries

McDonald’s fries are not vegetarian or vegan. These fries have perpetually managed to stay best sellers over all these years. But they are not suitable for vegans or vegetarian diets, due to natural beef flavoring. 

Fries from McDonald’s are standard in every country that has an outlet for this fast food giant. Other menu options may differ from one country to another, but the fries have managed to stay classic and also a best-seller, everywhere. 

What makes these fries even more special is just how affordable they are, like the rest of the McDonald’s menu prices. So, for anyone who just took up either of these diets, this may come as a huge shock! Let us take a look at why these fries don’t fit a vegan or vegetarian diet, in detail. 

Are McDonald’s Fries In The USA Vegetarian/ Vegan?

What ingredients are used to make McDonald's french fries in US?

So, we have already established the fact that these fries are not vegetarian or vegan.

However, this may seem odd to many, as technically, no meat goes into making french fries, right? So, how is it possible that plain old fried potatoes are not something that vegans or vegetarians can enjoy? 

Well for that, we will have to look a little bit into the history of these fries. Initially, when McDonald’s just started serving fries, they used to fry the potatoes in beef tallow. As many of you may know, animal fat tends to have a very rich flavor and also imparts the same to other foods. 

With that aspect in mind, the flavor of these fries was liked by everyone, which is also why they became popular. This actually went on, all the way up till the early 90s. However, later McDonald’s did stop frying them in tallow and moved to vegetable oil instead. 

But, the company also realized that one of the reasons the fries sold like hotcakes was the rich flavor that they had. So, to maintain their standard flavor of fries, they began mixing in natural beef flavor with vegetable oil, which makes these fries really appetizing. 

Although the fries were really appetizing, they were not fit for vegans or vegetarians. In fact, after McDonald’s made the switch, they were also sued by vegetarians, as they were not transparent about this fact. 

McDonald’s did apologize for the same and ended up paying $ 10 million as well. Now, the company is way more transparent about the ingredients and doesn’t claim the fries to be fit for vegans or vegetarians. It’s not all bad, though!  

You can still enjoy McDonald’s fries while being a vegetarian or a vegan if you happen to be in the United Kingdom! The fries there are actually perfectly fit for both these diet lifestyles. 

 McDonald’s Fries Ingredients & Preparation In The USA

French fries may seem like the simplest of things, but fast food chains like McDonald’s have to make them really appetizing for the customers.

Considering that fact, the list of ingredients that go into making these fries are a little more extensive and complicated than you may have thought! Here is a list of ingredients used to make fries in the USA, as per McDonald’s. 

Ingredients: 

  1. Potatoes 
  2. Vegetable Oil (canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor [wheat And Milk Derivatives]*)
  3. Dextrose
  4. Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (Maintain Color)
  5. Salt. 

(*Natural Beef Flavor Contains Hydrolyzed Wheat And Hydrolyzed Milk As Starting Ingredients.)

As you can see, the added natural beef flavor makes these fries what they are. Another thing to remember is that usually, the fryers at McDonald’s in the United States are all the same. So, there are also high chances of contamination with non-vegetarian and vegan food, which also makes these fries unfit for vegetarians and vegans. 

Why Are McDonald’s French Fries Vegan And Vegetarian In The UK?

Comparison of ingredients used to make french fries

McDonald’s French fries are the best-selling item on their menu, not just in the United States, but also worldwide! Moreover, McDonald’s is also one of those places that consider the dietary restrictions and culture of every country in the world and curate a menu accordingly. 

In the UK, they have clearly mentioned on their site that “The fries are not coated in any fats or substances from an animal”. 

So, as you may have already guessed, in countries like India, where a major chunk of the population is vegetarian, McDonald’s has strict laws to follow. So, this is one country where it even makes sense to keep the fries vegetarian and vegan at the same time. 

Well, that is not necessarily the case in the United Kingdom! Well, as we all already know, the British love their thick chips. So, the McDonald’s corporation in the UK adapted to the needs of the customers there and are serving thick fries. 

Although there is no specific reason as to why they don’t add natural beef flavoring to the fries. It is just something that they have been following forever and this is why the fries preparation in the UK is different when compared with the USA. 

McDonald’s Fries Ingredients & Preparation In The UK

When it comes to differences in french fries from McDonald’s in the United States and the United Kingdom, it is not just that one added ingredient. There are many differences between the two, in terms of ingredients and also the preparation method that they follow. 

Firstly, the United States McDonald’s uses 14 ingredients to prepare their fries. However, in the United Kingdom, there are only 4, which are potatoes, two kinds of oil, and dextrose. 

Another difference lies in the preparation method of these fries. Just like how McDonald’s fries are vegetarian here, they also follow a strict protocol for them to remain so. Keeping that in mind, the fries are always fried in separate fryers, which makes sure that they remain fit for vegans and vegetarians to consume. 

How Are McDonald’s Fries Prepared In Other Parts Of The World?

By now, we are all clear about the fact that McDonald’s fries can be eaten by vegans and vegetarians in the United Kingdom, but not in the United States. But, what if you are traveling and come across a McDonald’s and are also craving fries? 

Well, for that it is important to know if they are prepared the same way everywhere or not and what exactly goes about with them, in different countries. For now, let us take Canada, Australia, and India as an example to know the same. 

Canada

Canadian McDonald’s is one of those places where you can enjoy a portion of fries if you are a vegan or a vegetarian. They have taken responsibility and mentioned that the fries don’t have any added animal products to them and they also use separate fryers.

However, the company has also mentioned that there still may be chances of cross-contamination. So that is something that the customers should keep in mind. 

Australia

Australian McDonald’s, also known as Macca’s, is not a place where vegans and vegetarians can enjoy fries. Although they don’t claim to use any animal products with the fries, they have also mentioned that they don’t use separate fryers. So, the chances of cross-contamination are pretty high and hence, these fries should be avoided. 

India

If there is one country where you wouldn’t have to worry at all about finding vegetarian and vegan-friendly food, it’s India. A majority of the population in India is vegetarian and so, the rules are pretty strict. Just like in the United Kingdom, the fries in India are completely vegetarian, with no animal products, and are also cooked separately. 

This makes zero chances of cross-contamination happening! Also, a fun fact about McDonald’s India is that this is the only McDonald’s in the world that does not serve any beef! 

Can You Make McDonald’s Fries Vegan / Vegetarian At Home? 

So, it may have been a sad ordeal, along with a huge shocker for vegetarians and vegans to know this about McDonald’s fries. But, there is a solution to this problem if you want to enjoy fries just like McDonald’s. You can simply make them at home! 

All you have to do is follow a recipe properly and you can enjoy these fries, all vegan, right at home. If you are interested in making these fries at home, check out our recipe on how to make McDonald’s fries at home

What Are The Other Vegan Options At McDonald’s?

Although it may have come as a disappointment to know that the fries are not vegan, it’s not like you cannot enjoy anything at McDonald’s. There are a few options on McDonald’s Vegan menu that can be enjoyed by vegans, with nothing to worry about! Here are some of these vegan options. 

1. Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

The first vegan option that can be enjoyed is a breakfast favorite, the fruit and maple oatmeal. This oatmeal, however, does come with cream quite often. So, make sure to tell the server to not add any of that. 

2. Apple Slices

Apple slices are one of the sides from McDonald’s that can be enjoyed with a caramel dip, which is also vegan. As a bonus, even the baked apple pie that McDonald’s has to offer is vegan at most places. 

3. Beverages

Most beverages from the McDonald’s menu are completely vegan. Of course, this is just the fizzy beverages and not the McCafe options. However, many McDonald’s outlets now even have the option of switching the milk in McCafe beverages with any sort of plant-based milk, like oat milk or almond milk! 

To know more about the vegan options that you can enjoy at McDonald’s, check out our article on McDonald’s Vegan Menu

Conclusion

As we have come to the end of this article, I hope all your doubts about the same have been solved. It is indeed a bummer to know that these world-class french fries cannot be enjoyed by vegetarians and vegans, at least in the United States. 

However, there are other countries that you could visit, or even make these fries at home if you want them to be completely vegan or vegetarian! You can also have a look at whether McDonald’s fries are gluten-free,  McDonald’s hash browns are vegan, and also if the baked apple pie is vegan

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are McDonald’s fries vegan or vegetarian?

No, McDonald’s fries in the United States are not vegan or vegetarian. 

Why are McDonald’s fries not fit for vegans or vegetarians? 

McDonald’s fries are not fit for vegans or vegetarians as they have added natural beef flavoring. 

Are McDonald’s fries vegan or vegetarian anywhere in the world? 

Yes, McDonald’s fries in the United Kingdom and India are both vegan and vegetarian. 

What about Canada and Australia? 

McDonald’s fries in Canada and Australia don’t have added natural beef flavor. However, the company has mentioned that there are chances of cross-contamination, hence the fries don’t qualify as vegan or vegetarian. 

Does McDonald’s in the United States have any vegan options? 

Yes, there are some options on the McDonald’s menu that vegans can enjoy, without having to worry about anything! 

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