The (Few) Vegan Options You Can Actually Enjoy At McDonald's

We know McDonald's isn't the ideal place to go if you're vegan, but when you have no other choice, there are a few options for you there. However, exercise caution, as some of the menu items you once counted on may not be on the menu anymore. Plus, McDonald's things you may have thought were vegan really aren't. For example, McDonald's French fries might contain beef and dairy products. The chain's fruit smoothies may also contain dairy, so you can't fill up that way either.

Yet it's not impossible to eat at McDonald's as a vegan. You just have to get a little creative. It can also help if you bring along or pick up a packet of nuts, some nut butter, or another protein source like hummus. And many agree that where McDonald's excels for vegans is with its desserts. 

If you're struggling to figure out what you can eat at McDonald's if you're vegan, we have you covered. Read on for tips on how to mix and match menu items to get the tastiest and most filling vegan McDonald's meal possible.

McPlant burgers (if available again)

McDonald's tested its McPlant burger in select locations in California and Texas starting in 2020. McDonald's created this menu item in collaboration with Beyond Meat. It came with shredded lettuce, onion, pickles, and tomatoes, as well as mayo, ketchup, and mustard. It also sported American cheese. To make it vegan, diners would have had to ask employees to hold the cheese and mayo.

Unfortunately, the McPlant test ended in 2022 without plans to distribute the burger nationwide. Ultimately, the burger didn't sell well (no big surprise in rural Texas). Despite all the people with special diets, fast food gravitates toward what makes the most people happy and, thus, what makes a profit. While the McPlant didn't do well in the U.S., it's fared far better in some European countries like the U.K. and Austria.

Another problem: McDonald's never declared these burgers to be vegetarian or vegan because they were cooking them on the same grill as meat-based hamburgers. The chain couldn't guarantee that the plant-based products wouldn't accidentally bump into meat ones. If you like burgers that try to simulate the flavor and texture of meat and can get past the grilled-next-to-meat issue, they were the best "vegan" option McDonald's has had. However, we won't hold our breath for a nationwide launch anytime soon.

Fruit & maple oatmeal (modified)

The tastiest and most filling vegan breakfast item at McDonald's has got to be the chain's fruit and maple oatmeal — provided you make some modifications first. This comes with oatmeal, brown sugar, diced apples, cranberries, California raisins, and golden raisins. It also comes with cream, so be sure to ask that employees make it with water instead. It's also possible to order the oatmeal without brown sugar if your veganism excludes sugar as well. To complete your breakfast, order a plain coffee, 100% orange juice, or no-sugar-added apple juice. You can even get more apples for your oatmeal by ordering extra slices as a side.

Prepared with cream, this breakfast item comes in at 320 calories, with 4.5 grams of fat, 64 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein. However, you'll obviously lose some of that nutrition since you won't be ordering it with dairy. The good news is that oats already have protein, as well as a healthy array of vitamins and minerals.

Apple slices

If you're perusing the side items menu, you'll surely notice that apple slices are an obvious vegan option. We've found them to be hit or miss when it comes to acidity or just overall flavor, but it remains an option (though only a 15-calorie one). Be aware that you're not getting a whole apple – just a handful of slices in a plastic bag. Luckily, the slices come looking nice and fresh because McDonald's covers them with calcium ascorbate to help keep them fresh and prevent browning.

One package of apples will provide you with 4 grams of carbs and 10 milligrams of calcium, so we must admit that it's not going to be very impactful. However, this can make for a nice side or flavor addition to anything else you choose on the menu. You stick them into a custom sandwich or give a little crunch to your salad, for instance. You could even slice open your English muffin and use them as a fresh(ish), fruity filling.

English muffin (plain)

During breakfast at McDonald's, you can ask for one of the plain English muffins that McDonald's uses for all of its McMuffin breakfast sandwiches. It's made from wheat flour, barley flour, yeast, yellow corn meal, baking soda, soybean oil, and a few other non-animal-derived ingredients. It does contain a small amount of sugar, so it may not work out for you if you're also abstaining from that.

However, there aren't any toppings on the chain's standard breakfast sandwiches that will work for vegans. Since the chain's hotcake syrup and grape jam both contain corn syrup rather than refined sugar, you can ask for those on the side. Unfortunately, you can't order your English muffin with margarine since the Becel margarine McDonald's uses contains dairy products. For a heartier meal, ask for a side of apples to go with your English muffin and lend some extra flavor to your meal.

Modified salads (if available)

Eating vegan, vegetarian, or simply aiming for fewer calories at McDonald's was a lot easier when you could count on salads being on the menu. But McDonald's announced that it was removing salads back in 2020 when it streamlined its menu to be more efficient during the most intense days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, since the salads came with different types of lettuce than the burgers, it's been easier for the chain to keep salads off the menu. It appears that salads are still on the menu in parts of the U.K., so we have faith that they can return to the U.S., too. If you were a regular McSalad eater, you might want to get started on your letter-writing campaign to get them back.

Assuming salads return to the menu, they can be an excellent option for vegans, at least as long as you can get an employee to make one fresh. For example, the southwest salad or side salad were great options when ordered without cheese and with an alternate vegan dressing. You could also order the premium bacon ranch salad without cheese or bacon and with a vegan dressing in place of the standard ranch. If you happened to have a small bag of nuts or some other protein-rich food with you, you could make your salad even more satisfying.

Some Newman's Own dressings (assuming salads are available)

Back in 2003, McDonald's made a deal to carry only Newman's Own natural salad dressings for its salads. Now, not all of the Newman's Own salad dressings are vegan, but many are. So, assuming salads are an option where you are, you can use the vegan ones on your salad or as an alternate condiment on a sandwich or wrap.

When you choose a salad dressing, look for ones that are vinegar-based instead of those that use cream. Newman's Own salad dressings that have "vinegar" or "vinaigrette" in the title and are typically vegan including classic and organic oil and vinegar dressing, light and organic balsamic vinaigrette, and balsamic and white balsamic vinaigrette. Three of the brand's Italian dressings (light, organic, and zesty) are also vegan. Newman's Own raspberry walnut, sesame ginger, and poppy seed dressings are both vegan and organic. If you see any of these dressings available at McDonald's, they're all fair game.

Custom sandwiches

Making custom vegan sandwiches at McDonald's is all about deconstructing the menu to see what you can rearrange for your purposes. First, choose your vegan-friendly bread. These include English muffins, regular buns, and artisan rolls. Know that both the buns and rolls contain refined sugar if that's a concern for you. You also need to be careful not to mistake the potato rolls that come with the McCrispy for the artisan roll, because the potato rolls contain honey. Also, be sure to ask for untoasted bread so it doesn't come in contact with the meaty grill. 

Finally, choose your sauce. Remember that there's no need to limit yourself to ordinary condiments when you can also opt for vegan salad dressings and dipping sauces.

The easiest way to make a custom vegan sandwich at McDonald's is to order a sandwich on the menu that has everything you want on it, minus meat, cheese, and non-vegan condiments One strategy some people use to get a more robust sandwich is to also order a side salad (if it's available) and add it to their sandwich. Sandwiches are another place where add-ons you picked up elsewhere can come in handy, like nuts or even hummus.

Modified wraps

When you find a tortilla-based sandwich (like burritos or wraps) on the menu, you can order it minus the non-vegan ingredients and add other items from the menu to make it more robust. While you'll find wraps on the regular menu in places like Canada and Great Britain, the only tortilla-wrapped sandwich you'll find regularly on the U.S. menu is on the breakfast menu – and it's the sausage burrito.

For breakfast, there are still options. Order a plain tortilla and load it up with apple slices and hotcake syrup (if you don't mind the former's use of corn syrup). If there's a salad on the menu, use it in a tortilla and make your wrap. Easiest of all, if you're somewhere that has a non-breakfast wrap on the menu, simply order the wrap without the meat or cheese and switch out any offending sauces for something vegan. When non-breakfast wraps are on the menu, they often have different veggies than what's on other sandwiches on the menu, like cucumbers or even cilantro and tortilla strips if it's a Mexican-inspired wrap. Just like sandwiches, wraps can benefit from extras you purchase elsewhere, like hummus or nuts and seeds.

Condiments and dipping sauces

Salad dressings aren't the only sauces on the menu that have vegan options. You can also find vegan condiments and dipping sauces under the Golden Arches. When it comes to dipping sauces, you'll want to skip any creamy or honey-based sauce, of course. Since the chain's sweet condiments and dipping sauces typically use high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, refined sugar shouldn't be a concern.

But what exactly can you order? For starters, McDonald's ketchup and mustard are both vegan, as well as its tangy barbecue sauce and sweet and sour sauce. Don't forget that you can also plunder sauces from the breakfast menu, like hotcake syrup and grape jam.

However, skip the mayo and hot mustard because they contain eggs. The spicy buffalo sauce and creamy ranch also contain dairy products. Honey mustard is an obvious vegan no-no since it contains egg, honey, and sugar. If there's a new sauce available, a quick look at the allergen information section for the sauce on the chain's website will quickly alert you to whether or not it contains honey, dairy, eggs, or sugar.

Apple pie

To the surprise of some, the McDonald's apple pie is vegan. As long as you don't mind refined sugar in your dessert, getting an apple pie can help bring an otherwise disappointing McDonald's vegan meal up a notch. The chain certainly didn't set out to make a vegan dessert when it added hot apple pies to the menu in 1968. Although the recipe has changed over time, the dessert has endured in its little cardboard sleeve. While its 2018 makeover added non-vegan butter to the pie's ingredient list, it now has vegan status after McDonald's changed the recipe to contain palm oil instead of butter. Granted, if you're a vegan for ethical reasons, you might want to rethink eating palm-oil-laden apple pies because of that ingredient's link to deforestation and the removal of wildlife habitats.

From time to time, you can find other pies on the McDonald's menu, like cherry pies, that are also vegan. However, avoid pies that include "crème" in the name (like strawberry and crème or blueberry and crème) since they currently include dairy products.

Some drinks

Some of the drinks McDonald's offers are vegan no-brainers like plain coffee and 100% orange juice. However, determining if other beverages are vegan can take a bit of detective work. Depending on your level of veganism, pay attention to whether the drink you order comes with high fructose corn syrup or sugar. You'll also want to avoid drinks with dairy products like milkshakes.

McDonald's carries Coke products, all of which are vegan and include Coca-Cola, diet Coke, Sprite, Dr Pepper, and orange Fanta. If you find it, Hi-C Orange Lavaburst is also vegan. We've also found that both the breakfast apple juice and the Honest Kids apple juice in Happy Meals don't contain any sugar. Real lemonade may be an issue if you don't eat sugar, but it's vegan otherwise. Sweet tea also contains sugar, while the chain's unsweetened tea and hot tea are both fully vegan.

The premium roast coffee and Americano are fair game for vegans. However, all the other McCafé coffee drinks contain dairy products and non-dairy alternatives like oat milk or soy milk aren't currently available like you could find in a proper coffee shop. And smoothies contain yogurt and sugar. The drink menu is probably the most permissive menu for vegans at McDonald's, but it still has its limitations.


One thing you'll be happy to know if you're craving a slushy on a hot day is that currently, all McDonald's slushies are vegan. That's because they're sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and don't contain any dairy products, meaning you can go for any slushie you see on the menu. They're also lower-calorie drinks than most sweet beverages on the menu since so much of the space in the cup is taken up by air and ice. For example, a small Coca-Cola slushie is 60 calories and a large one is 110 calories. Compare that to a Coca-Cola with ice that brings 150 calories for a small and 290 calories for a large.

In addition to Coca-Cola slushies, the chain occasionally offers other flavors, like blue raspberry, strawberry watermelon, mango, fruit punch, and pink lemonade, among others. If you're in the mood for a cold, sweet treat that's also vegan, keep your eyes on the McDonald's slushie menu.