Not yet. At least not if you live in the United States. McDonald’s has been offering plant based burgers in other countries like Germany (The Big Vegan TS) for over a year now, but not here.
However, that may be changing soon. Like, really soon.
McDonald’s announced today in an interview with USA Today that they will be launching a McPlant platform that will be bringing plant based options to global markets starting in 2021.
“McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s, by McDonald’s,” Ian Borden, McDonald’s international president, said at the investor meeting. “In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products including burgers, chicken substitutes and breakfast sandwiches.”
First off, can we all agree that McPlant sounds ridiculously weird? I get that McDonald’s is trying to stay on brand and I’m criticizing without offering a better alternative, but nonetheless it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Who knows, maybe it will grow on me.
Secondly, I’d like to say on behalf of most vegans when I say, “It’s about time!”. Seriously, what is McDonald’s waiting on? Other fast food giants like Burger King and Carl’s Jr have been leading the plant-based burger revolution for quite some time now with great success. Burger King is now even offering the Impossible Sausage on it’s famous breakfast croissant. It’s not exactly vegan by any means, but hey, at least we’re heading in the right direction.
Will the McDonald’s Vegan Burger be Beyond or Impossible?
The vegan burger space is currently being dominated by Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger. The Beyond Burger is currently served at A&W Root Beer, Carl’s Jr, Denny’s, Hardee’s, TGI Friday’s and a couple other smaller burger chains.
Meanwhile, Impossible Burgers can be found at Burger King, White Castle, Cheesecake Factory and can be added onto bowls and burritos at Qdoba.
So, will McDonald’s be #TeamBeyond or #TeamImpossible? Or maybe McDonald’s could create their own? They’re big enough, I don’t think that would be completely implausible.
It appears they’ll be teaming up with Beyond Meat. This was confirmed by a spokesperson from Beyond Meat. This makes sense considering Beyond Meat is also the company behind McDonald’s vegan burger rolling out in the UK.
McDonald’s Current Vegan Options
We really hope that the McPlant platform (yep, still sounds weird) brings some much needed vegan options to the McDonald’s menu here in the US.
Right now on our McDonald’s Vegan Options Guide, we’re having to tell people to order burgers without the burger. That’s not a good sign when that’s one of the best “options” that you have on the menu. A side salad or a baked apple pie are the only options that don’t involve modifications that will be sure to get you some strange looks.
Can We Get (Vegan) Fries with that?
If we’re going to be getting a vegan burger and maybe even vegan chicken nuggets (one can hope, right?), can we also get fries that are vegan?
McDonald’s is one of the only locations out of our over 100 chain restaurant vegan guides where you can’t even order the fries. This is because McDonald’s cooks their fries in beef fat. It’s not like they can’t make this happen either, especially considering that McDonald’s fries in the UK are not cooked that way.
I can sense some of the objections coming my way now. Yes, I understand that cross-contamination is an issue with fries at most fast food places. I also understand that there is a good chance that my McPlant Burger, or whatever it ends up being called, may end up sharing a cooking surface like Burger King’s Impossible Burger does.
If you object to these offerings because of these issues I totally get it. If you even refuse to call them vegan because of these issues I totally understand that too.
However, I’m of the opinion that having fast food restaurants have these options on the menu is a tremendous step forward in the plant-based movement and personally I’ll deal with cross-contamination issues if I know that my order is still pushing forward the greater good.
So when exactly should you be expecting a vegan burger option at your local McDonald’s? Well, McDonald’s is being very vague about that:
“We are excited about the opportunity because we believe we have a proven, delicious-tasting product,” Borden said. “When customers are ready for it, we will be ready for them.”
Apparently, “some” markets will test the new burger next year. Exactly when and where though is still not known.
With that being said, I’d like to finish this article with a suggestion. McDonald’s decision makers, if you’re reading this – Atlanta. Test in Atlanta.