Plant-based substitutions are becoming increasingly popular at restaurants, but it’s still hard to tell which menu options are safe for vegetarians at fast-food establishments such as McDonald’s.
If you’re vegetarian, you may have walked into a McDonald’s and smelled those delicious fries and then wondered if they are vegetarian-friendly.
Keep reading to learn whether this is a product for vegetarians to indulge their need for fast-food fries!
Are McDonald’s Fries Vegetarian?
Unfortunately, McDonald’s fries are not vegetarian in the United States as the fries use milk and beef flavoring. Previously, McDonald’s fries did use animal lard during cooking, but the company switched to using vegetable oil, which made the fries lose their flavor. However, due to many customer complaints, McDonald’s decided to add beef flavoring.
If you’re curious to learn more about the vegetarian menu at McDonald’s and what happened to McDonald’s fries, keep reading!
Does McDonald’s Use Beef in Their Fries?
McDonald’s does use natural beef flavor in their French fries. However you’d think that McDonald’s fries would be considered vegetarian, but that’s not the case.
For good measure, this beef flavor is not added at the restaurant, but instead, a small amount is added in at the processing plant where the potatoes go through par-frying.
On top of this beef flavor addition at the processing plant, there is also hydrolyzed milk added to the fries making it an even worse option for vegans.
Are McDonald’s Fries Soaked in Animal Fat?
McDonald’s fries are not soaked in animal fat, and you can find the list of ingredients on their website to show you what’s all in their world-famous fries.
In the United States, the fries are cooked in a non-hydrogenated blend of oils at the restaurant, including sunflower oil and soybean oil.
Does McDonald’s Do Vegetarian Food?
In the United States, there aren’t any satisfying vegetarian food options readily available at McDonald’s, except apple slices.
However, McDonald’s is planning to introduce a plant-based burger called the McPlant, and will also offer meat-free breakfast sandwiches and chicken substitutes.
Additionally, in the United Kingdom, the McDonald’s menu does offer vegetarian options, including fries, McFlurries, veggie wraps, veggie dippers, red pesto veggie goujons, and many other vegetarian menu options.
McDonald’s Hit With Class-Action Lawsuit Over Fries
Interestingly, McDonald’s was hit with a class-action lawsuit in 2001, which was started by someone that was Hindu. It’s against the Hindu religion to eat animal products, so the accusation was that they were being duped.
In addition to that, other vegetarians joined the lawsuit because they were led to believe the French fries were vegetarian since animal lard was no longer used.
Subsequently, McDonald’s admitted to the fact that beef flavoring was added to the French fries, and the company settled for $10 million, with more than $6 million going towards vegetarian organizations.
What Potatoes Does McDonald’s Use for French Fries?
McDonald’s uses more than just one potato to make French fries and lists Russet Burbank, Russet Ranger, Shepody, and Umatilla Russet as the four varieties used to make fries.
Besides that, the fries are actually blanched by the supplier in order to remove the sugars from those potatoes before being shipped out to the restaurants.
This blanching gives the fries a more uniform color, and then a dextrose solution is used in order to keep the fries from becoming gray and discolored.
What’s so Different About Fries in Indian McDonald’s Locations Compared to the United States?
If you’re in India, you can order French fries, and they are completely vegetarian. This is because cows are a sacred animal in India and aren’t used for human consumption.
For that matter, no McDonald’s location in India uses any pork or beef products or flavorings, and every ingredient within the fast-food chain is plant-based.
Bill Gates Owns Farmland Used to Make McDonald’s Fries
An interesting fact about McDonald’s fries is that Bill Gates owns significant property in Washington that grows potatoes McDonald’s uses to make fries.
On top of that, Gates has so much farmland in Washington state that you can see the potato fields from space!
Cool Facts About McDonald’s Fries
- McDonald’s was founded in 1940 first as a barbeque joint, and fries were a part of the original menu way back then!
- The French fries are fried for about 60 seconds at the processing plant, then frozen, and then shipped to the restaurants to be fried up and served to customers.
- A machine cuts the potatoes into their iconic French fry shape at the processing plant, so there’s no mashing or forming of the potatoes by hand.
- The fries are the most asked-for menu item at the restaurant, even beating out the Big Mac and other staples of the McDonald’s brand. The popularity of the fries is one reason why the company will never move to curly fries or other ingredients.
Sadly, McDonald’s world-famous French fries are not vegetarian in the United States, and likely never will be due to the fact that it could alter the flavor we’ve come to know and love.
Hopefully, more vegetarian options will appear on the menu to satisfy those on a plant-based diet.