I have to say I never thought I would be writing a post about any McDonalds product on my blog. I can’t remember the last time I went to a McDonalds but certainly not for at least 10 years. I make a conscious effort to avoid large chains, particularly those whose core product is meat.
I can understand the argument that it is good when these large chains introduce vegan options. We have had it recently in the UK with the Greggs sausage roll. We are told that Kentucky Fried Chicken will also shortly be offering a vegan chicken burger.
However I would much prefer to support vegan business’s particularly smaller independent ones whenever possible. But last week I had to travel to America. I was really pleased that a colleague of mine who is newly vegan was travelling with me. We were fortunate enough to have a day to ourselves, hired some bicycles and off we went.
After a few hours we stopped for a rest break and yes you guessed it the nearest place was a McDonalds. My friend went in bought 2 bottles of water and also came out with a large portion of French fries.
And that’s when something stirred at the back of my mind. Because despite what you might think not all French fries are equal in fact there not even all vegan. So are McDonalds fries vegan? Read on because you’re about to find out.
It’s Just Potato Right?
French fries, still sometimes called chips in the UK or papas fritas where I’m from in Spain. Surely the clue is in the name right? After all papas fritas means fried potatoes. I mean they are just chopped potatoes fried in some oil with maybe salt added to taste right?
Well actually no. Infact if you really want to know if McDonalds fries are vegan you will have to look at each countries individual recipe. Yes I did say recipe! Because believe it or not the ingredients that go in to make the humble McDonalds French fry actually varies from country to country.
And no I’m not going to go through them country by country. Because as the world’s largest restaurant chain McDonalds has restaurants in 119 countries. The only way to know for sure is to go to the official McDonalds website and check your specific location. So how about my friends fries in the US surely they would be vegan right, or maybe not?
McDonald’s Vegan And Non-Vegan Fries
So we now know that McDonalds fries in the UK will be different to those of Australia which could well differ from those in Canada. I could go on but with 119 countries it could take some time. What didn’t take any time though was to confirm the fact that McDonald’s FRIES IN THE US ARE NOT VEGAN!
Infact back in 2002 McDonalds were famously sued and forced to pay a settlement of $10m and issue an apology for claiming their fries were vegetarian. If we head on over to the official McDonalds site and click on the ingredients in their fries we will see why.
The humble McDonalds French fry not only contains potatoes but hydrolysed wheat, hydrolysed milk and natural beef flavouring. A long way from the simple vegan potato. There is good news though. If you are in the UK and get a craving for French fries then McDonalds is an option.
In fact it appears that the UK ingredient list is the most basic of any of the 119 countries in which McDonalds operate consisting solely of potatoes, vegetable oil, dextrose and salt.
The only remaining concern would be of cross contamination. Is the oil that is used to cook the fries used for any other product? Well according to McDonalds their fries are cooked separately from all other products so at least in the UK you can be sure that your fries are vegan.
In fact looking at the official McDonalds site it appears that it is only the in the US and Canada where their fries are not vegan but I would encourage you to check before buying or better still find a vegan restaurant to eat at instead!
What About Other Restaurants?
So we know that at least the majority of McDonalds fries are vegan but what about other restaurants? Well the honest answer is it’s impossible to say. I took a quick look at the Burger King site and although their fries don’t seem to have any animal derived ingredients the companies’ allergen information lists fries as one of the items that may share a fryer with other products.
With hundreds of different restaurant chains around the world the only way to really know is to check the company website or actually ask in store. The same is true of independent restaurants with again the biggest culprit being cross contamination of a shared fryer. The only real way to be sure is go to a vegan restaurant!
What About At Home?
Well of course my fries are vegan at home I hear you say. And obviously if you are peeling, chopping and frying the potatoes you know exactly how your fries were made. But we all live busy lives so what about that pack of frozen fries in the freezer?
Well again here you have to be careful. Believe it or not some varieties contain milk, egg or even like McDonald’s beef flavouring. These ingredients are usually pretty easy to spot but that’s not the case for everything.
Some preservatives, such as anti-caking agents, may be derived from animal products. Again the only way to be sure is to check the ingredients thoroughly or buy a brand that is marked vegan
So Are McDonalds Fries Vegan?
So coming back to the original question are McDonalds fries vegan and the answer is most of the time. The only exceptions I could find were the US and Canada but in all the other countries that I checked the ingredients were vegan and they have their own fryer.
And fries in general? Well certainly they should be vegan after all they are just fried potatoes but unfortunately it’s not always the case with many restaurants using a shared fryer. So if you are in any doubt check with the individual restaurant or chain. And as I keep saying if at all possible try to support your local independent vegan restaurant.
Are you often surprised by products that should be vegan that aren’t? I have written about similar products in my blog posts like what sweets are vegan? and is alcohol vegan? But I would love to hear from you about non vegan products that really should be vegan. The more we can share the more we can help inform people and keep growing the vegan movement so please do leave me a comment below.