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You might think that McDonald’s French Fries are made from potatoes, oil and salt. But, you need to know that that’s not the case.
Whether or not McDonald’s fries are vegan depends on where in the world you order them. They are vegan in most countries, including the UK. But, the fries that you’ll find in US branches of the fast-food chain are not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
What are McDonald’s fries made of?
In the UK, McDonald’s fries are known as chips and are made from potatoes, vegetable oil, sugar and salt. However, in other countries, the ingredients list is pretty long and may include beef, milk and various chemicals.
In some countries, the ingredients list for McDonald’s fries is pretty shocking. Vegans who like to travel should be aware that Mc Donald’s fries are not vegan in every restaurant in the world. In some cases, they’re not even suitable for vegetarians.
McDonald’s chips in the UK are 100% vegan and are approved by the Vegan Society. The chips are made from potatoes and a blend of sunflower oil and rapeseed oil. They are cooked in dedicated frying vats separately from any animal products.
McDonalds chips ingredients in the UK
UK McDonalds chips have the following ingredients:
Potatoes, blend of non-hydrogenated vegetable oils (sunflower, rapeseed), dextrose (predominantly added at beginning of the potato season). Salt is added after cooking.
McDonald’s French Fries in the US are not suitable for vegans or vegetarians because they contain beef and milk. Years ago, McDonald’s fries were cooked in lard (animal fat). When McDonald’s switched to vegetable oil, customers complained so beef flavouring was added to adjust the taste.
McDonald’s fries ingredients in the US
US McDonald’s French Fries have the following ingredients:
Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt.
The famous lawsuit
In 2001, McDonald’s was sued by several vegetarians and Hindus because the company didn’t disclose that its fries were flavoured with beef tallow. The company apologised and paid out $10 million. However, they didn’t change the ingredients and McDonald’s fries in the US still contain beef to this day.
A McDonald’s spokesperson commented: “With regard to our French Fries, any customer in the US who contacts McDonald’s USA to ask if they contain beef flavoring is told, ‘Yes.’ We have no plans to change the way we prepare our French fries in the US. However, it is important to know that our French Fries are prepared differently in other countries.”
In Canada, McDonald’s fries are suitable for vegans as they do not contain any animal ingredients. They are cooked separately from animal products, although there’s no guarantee against cross-contamination.
McDonald’s Fries ingredients in Canada
Canadian McDonald’s French Fries have the following ingredients
Potatoes, high oleic low linolenic canola oil and/or canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural flavour (vegetable source), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain colour), citric acid (preservative), dimethylpolysiloxane (antifoaming agent).
In Australia, McDonald’s fries are vegan as they do not contain any animal ingredients. However, they may be cooked using the same equipment as products containing egg and milk, so strict vegans or people with allergies may wish to avoid them.
Suggested read: Is food that ‘may contain milk’ vegan?
McDonald’s fries ingredients in Australia
Australian McDonald’s Fries have the following ingredients:
Potato, canola oil, mineral salt (450), dextrose, antifoam (1521)
Potatoes, canola oil (acidity regulator (330)), dextrose monohydrate (preservative (220)), mineral salt (450), antifoam (non-ionic polyalkylene glycol), preservative (223)
Are McDonalds fries vegetarian?
McDonald’s fries are suitable for vegetarians in most countries, including the UK, Australia and Canada, but not in the United States. This is because McDonald’s US French Fries contain beef as a flavour additive.
Are McDonalds chips Halal?
In most countries, including the UK, Australia and Canada, McDonald’s chips do not contain any animal ingredients and are therefore Halal. However, in the United States, McDonald’s French Fries are Haram because they contain beef flavouring.
Should vegans eat at McDonald’s?
Vegans are pretty divided over whether eating anything at all from the McDonald’s menu aligns with their principles.
In 2019, Vegan Food & Living magazine surveyed 8,300 UK vegans and found that 43% of them would never go to McDonald’s.
The reasons that vegans give for boycotting fast-food chains like McDonalds include:
- Not wanting to support a company that kills animals
- Believing that standards of animal welfare should be higher
- Not wanting to support a company that pays employees the minimum wage
- Preferring to support small businesses
On the other hand, most vegans do chose to eat at McDonald’s.
Their argument would be that ordering vegan items such as the veggie dippers or ordering the veggie deluxe burger with ketchup instead of the sandwich sauce (which contains egg) will show the company that there is a demand for plant-based foods.
If more vegan items are added to the menu, this in turn will mean that omnivores are more likley to order vegetarian or vegan items, rather than meat.