We Tried The McDonald's McPlant, So You Don't Have To

"Welcome to McDonald's. Will you be trying McPlant today?" Those may very well be the words you hear the next time you pull up to those golden arches.

The fast-food war rages on. First, it was the fried chicken sandwich, but now, we're fighting fire with... plants? Burger King first introduced a national roll out of the Impossible Whopper and it was game, set, match. McDonald's is now entering their ring with the McPlant, as part of a three-year partnership with Beyond Meat. Beginning November 3, 2021, the burger was released to eight McDonald's restaurants across the United States as a part of the sandwich's test phase.

We found ourselves in El Segundo, the headquarters of Beyond Meat, which also happens to be one of the testing locations of the McPlant. So, of course we gave it a try. How did it go?

The McPlant is served similar to a Quarter Pounder

The vegan patty was co-created with Beyond Meat and is exclusive to McDonald's restaurants. It contains rice, peas, and potatoes, and resembles the standard McDonald's burger patty in looks. When served as the McPlant (more on that to come), it is topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, slivered onions, mustard and ketchup, all served on a warm, sesame seed bun. This is much like the way a Quarter Pounder sandwich is prepared, but with the addition of sliced tomato and lettuce. 

The vegan patty is also available to be added to any of their breakfast sandwiches or even chicken sandwiches. While the burger patty is completely vegan, it isn't marketed that way as it is prepared and cooked on the same grill tops as the beef burger patties — something we've also seen with Burger King's Impossible Whopper.

The McPlant is currently only available in eight cities across the US

We ordered our McPlant from the El Segundo location, which also happens to be where the headquarters of Beyond Meat is located. In a surprise moment, we were served the first McPlant at that location, by the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Beyond Meat, Ethan Brown.

The McPlant is currently only available in eight cities across the United States: Irving, TX, Carrollton, TX, Cedar Fall, IO, Jennings, LA, Lake Charles, LA, Manhattan Beach, CA, and El Segundo, CA. 

So, is a national rollout on the horizons? We won't know just yet. "You'll have to stay tuned for future McPlant availability updates coming out of our test," their previous announcement states. McDonald's tested the plant-based burger internationally earlier this year in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Austria, among other countries.

How much does the McPlant cost?

When we purchased the McPlant, it was available as a sandwich only for $6.29 (prices may vary by location) or as part of a meal with fries and a beverage. We have drawn comparisons to the quarter pounder in terms of size and ingredients, but that selection will set you back only $3.79 for the sandwich or $5.79 as part of meal. This is a pretty big price jump, but as of no surprise given the current landscape of fast food pricing. Burger King's Impossible Whopper comes in at $5.99, making the prices for the two plant-based bugers around the same. 

Beyond Meat meatless burger patties are now commercially sold in grocery stores around the United States. On average, a 10-pack of these patties will cost $15.99, which is approximately $6.40 per pound. 

Sticker shock aside, it's up to the consumer to decide whether the initial investment in health is potentially worth the long term health effects. Studies show that those who avoid meat may reduce their long time health expenses by approximately 15 percent. Diets low in meat may also improve overall health, weight management, and reduce the risk of diseases, according to Healthline.

Is the McPlant healthy?

McDonald's hasn't yet released the nutritional info for this sandwich in the U.S., but we can look to their U.K. menu to get an idea. 

The U.K. McPlant clocks in at 427 calories with 20 grams of fat, 6.6 grams of saturated fat, 40 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of sugar, 4.6 grams of fiber, 19 grams of protein, and 2.2 grams of salt. On paper, there's actually not that much of a different between the McPlant and the Big Mac — which has just over 90 calories more and .1 gram more of salt. Upon closer look, a Big Mac or a McPlant will pretty much obliterate your fat content for the day with a whopping 9.5 grams of saturated fat.

McDonald's new McPlant may not exactly be considered health food but it is a meat-free option for those-conscious about their intake of animal products and the overall implications from that. The patty is certified vegan, but comes with the warning that it is cooked on the same grill top as other McDonald's products, including beef patties, chicken, and eggs.

How does it taste?

According to McDonald's, "There are other plant-based burgers out there, but the McPlant delivers our iconic taste in a sink-your-teeth-in (and wipe-your-mouth) kind of sandwich. It's made with a juicy, plant-based patty and served on a warm, sesame seed bun with all the classic toppings."

With lofty promises like that, our hopes were high. So, does it deliver?

We are happy to give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up. You first sink your teeth into that deliciously soft, and familiar sesame seed bun that's then met with the crunchiness of fresh lettuce, firm tomato, and tangy pickles. After our first bite, we honestly forgot we were trying the McPlant patty and not your standard McDonald's beef patty. The patty itself has that same chargrilled taste we've grown accustomed too from the chain, along with the perfect amount of seasoning added in the form of salt and pepper. It also doesn't have that mushy texture we've experienced in other commercial plant-based burgers. All the ingredients worked together and were properly balanced.

With the usual burger toppings, this could easily fool someone who wasn't expecting a vegan patty. Dare we say,, we might be adding this into our regular routine at McDonald's.

We left our field trip full, but not feeling weighed down. With the announcement of a three-year partnership between Beyond Meat and McDonald's, we can't wait to see what else they may have in store for us.