Plant-based substitutions are becoming increasingly popular in restaurants, but it’s still difficult to say which menu options are safe for vegetarians at fast food establishments such as McDonald’s.

If you’re a vegetarian, you may have walked into a McDonald’s and smelled those delicious fries, then wondered if they were vegetarian.

Keep reading to find out if this is a product aimed at vegetarians to satisfy their need for fast food fries!

Are McDonald’s fries vegetarian?

Unfortunately, McDonald’s fries are not vegetarian in the United States because the fries use milk and beef flavors. Previously, McDonald’s fries used animal lard during cooking, but the company switched to vegetable oil, which caused the fries to lose their flavor. However, due to numerous customer complaints, McDonald’s decided to add beef flavoring.

If you’re curious to know more about McDonald’s vegetarian menu and what happened to McDonald’s fries, keep reading!

Does McDonald’s use beef in their fries?

McDonald’s uses natural beef flavoring in its fries. However, you would think that McDonald’s fries would be considered vegetarian, but that is not the case.

For good measure, this beef flavor is not added at the restaurant, but rather a small amount is added at the processing plant where the potatoes are pre-fried.

In addition to this addition of beef flavor at the processing plant, hydrolyzed milk is also added to the fries, making them an even worse option for vegans.

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Are McDonald’s fries soaked in animal fat?

McDonald’s fries are not dipped in animal fat, and you can find the ingredient list on their website to show you what’s in their world-famous fries.

In the United States, fries are cooked in a blend of non-hydrogenated oils at restaurants, including sunflower oil and soybean oil.

Does McDonald’s make vegetarian food?

In the United States, there are no satisfying vegetarian food options readily available at McDonald’s, with the exception of apple slices.

However, McDonald’s plans to introduce a plant-based burger called the McPlant, and will also offer meatless breakfast sandwiches and chicken alternatives.

Additionally, in the UK, the McDonald’s menu offers vegetarian options including Fries, McFlurries, Veggie Wraps, Veggie Dips, Red Pesto Veggie Goujons, and many other vegetarian menu options.

McDonald’s hit with class action over French fries

McDonald's hit with class action over French fries

Interestingly, McDonald’s was hit with a class action lawsuit in 2001, which was started by someone who was Hindu. It is against the Hindu religion to eat animal products, so the accusation was that they were being duped.

On top of that, other vegetarians joined the lawsuit because they were led to believe the fries were vegetarian since animal lard was no longer used.

Subsequently, McDonald’s admitted the fact that beef flavoring had been added to the fries, and the company settled for $10 million, including more than $6 million for vegetarian organizations.

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What potatoes does McDonald’s use for fries?

McDonald’s uses more than one potato to make fries and lists Russet Burbank, Russet Ranger, Shepody and Umatilla Russet as the four varieties used to make fries.

Additionally, the fries are actually blanched by the supplier to remove the sugars from those potatoes before being shipped to restaurants.

This blanching gives the fries a more uniform color, then a dextrose solution is used to prevent the fries from turning gray and discolored.

How are the fries so different at Indian McDonald’s restaurants compared to the US?

If you’re in India, you can order fries, and they’re completely vegetarian. Indeed, cows are a sacred animal in India and are not used for human consumption.

In fact, no McDonald’s location in India uses pork or beef products or flavors, and every ingredient in 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 a major property in Washington that grows potatoes that 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!

Interesting facts about McDonald’s fries

  • McDonald’s was first founded in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant, and fries were part of the original menu back then!
  • The fries are fried for about 60 seconds at the processing plant, then frozen, then shipped to restaurants to be fried 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 the potatoes by hand.
  • French fries are the most requested menu item at the restaurant, beating out even the Big Mac and other McDonald’s brand staples. The popularity of French fries is one reason the company will never switch to curly fries or other ingredients.
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To learn more, you can also read our related articles on whether or not McDonald’s fries are gluten-free, when does McDonald’s serve lunch, and if McDonald’s takes EBT.


Unfortunately, McDonald’s world-famous fries are not vegetarian in the United States, and probably never will be because they could taint the flavor we know and love.

Hopefully, more vegetarian options will appear on the menu to satisfy those following a plant-based diet.

Visit Les Gourmandises for more information.

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