Burger King is getting vegan love because of its Impossible Whopper. Taco Bell has a long list of vegan offerings. Even Chick-fil-A has delicious options for vegans in a pinch. But what about the most ubiquitous fast food chain of them all. What can vegans eat at McDonald’s?
The storied restaurant chain best know for its burgers and chicken nuggets doesn’t exactly seem like a place that veggie-lovers would enjoy. Unfortunately, they’re mostly right. It is true that McDonalds doesn’t offer any vegan-certified items, and it’s also true that a lot of the foods you might mistake as vegan actually aren’t. The famously tasty french fries and hashbrowns include “natural beef flavor” made from milk derivates. Even the smoothies contain kosher gelatin.
Still, if you’re a vegan who isn’t afraid of a low risk of a little cross-contamination with meat items, there are a few mostly safe menu items you can order in a pinch:
1. Fruit and Maple Oatmeal
Just be sure to ask for no cream, and you have a healthy vegan breakfast option.
Per serving: 290 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 32 g sugar, 5 g protein, 130 mg sodium. Additional nutrition information.
2. Southwest Salad
McDonald’s doesn’t offer any vegan salads outright, but the restaurant is happy to customize orders to meet dietary restrictions. Order the Southwest Salad. You’ll get a dose of protein thanks to the black beans — and remember to order without cheese and chicken.
Per serving: 160 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 9 g sugar, 5 g protein, 380 mg sodium
3. Side salad
Not the most exciting (or calorie dense) option, but if you’re in a hurry, order a side salad and you’ll be safe. McDonald’s side salad contains romaine, baby spinach, baby kale, red leaf lettuce, carrots, and grape tomatoes. Order the balsamic vinaigrette for a vegan-safe dressing.
Per serving: 50 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 1 g sugar, 1 g protein, 15 mg sodium. Additional nutrition information.
4. McCafe Coffee
When in doubt, there is always coffee. The McCafe line of beverages are definitely off-limits to vegans, but the basic black coffee and the Americano are a safe way to get a caffeine fix.
Per serving: 0 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 g sugar, 2 g protein, 20 mg sodium. Additional nutrition information.
5. Apple Pie
It’s a dessert fan’s dream come true. McDonald’s iconic apple pie isn’t certified vegan, but is is free of animal products, meaning it’s a pretty safe bet you’re not ingesting anything unwanted.
Per serving: 240 calories, 2 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 16 g sugar, 2 g protein, 95 mg sodium. Additional nutritional information.
6. Minute Maid Slushie
It’s not exactly a diet food, but it does fit the vegan requirements. The chocolate chip cookies, McFlurries, and Shamrock Shakes are strictly off limits, so if you’re looking for something sweet, this might make-do in a pinch.
Per serving: 170 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 44 g sugar, 0 g protein, 15 mg sodium. Additional nutrition information.
7. Apple slices
You don’t have be a kid to love the snap of an apple slice. They’re prepackaged, so these are as close to a vegan-friendly guarantee as you can get.
Per serving: 15 calories, 0 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 3 g sugar, 0 g protein, 0 mg sodium. Additional nutrition information.
8. Ice tea (Unsweetened)
Nothing scary about the ingredients in McDonald’s ice tea. It’s pretty basic — “water, orange pekoe and pekoe cut black tea.”
Per serving: 0 calories, 0 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 3 g sugar, 0 g protein, 10 mg sodium. Additional nutrition information. For Sweetened, expect additional calories and sugar.
McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook explained the restaurant’s lack of vegan options, stating that it’s a matter of “simplicity” to Business Insider. The brand makes two key considerations when determining what will make it to menu: “Is there additional complexity? And if there is, is that complexity worth it?”
According to Easterbrook, he’s paying “close attention to an internally discussing vegan and plant-based menu items,” but there isn’t anything else to say “at the moment.”
To date, nearly 230,000 people have signed the petition for more healthy, meatless options on McDonald’s menu. Add your name if you would like to see McDonald’s add more options for vegans and vegetarians.