McDonald’s, the largest fast food chain in the world, is shaking up its menu with new vegan options at restaurants around the globe. In response to meat-less minded customers in Norway, the chain is now frying up vegan "chicken" nuggets at select restaurants throughout the Nordic country.
According to a rep for the chain, the new chicken-free McNuggets are made with a mashed potato base, which is mixed with chickpeas, onions, carrots and corn. They’re coated in breadcrumbs, then fried until crispy. The vegan option is the latest in a series of vegetarian-friendly releases from the golden arches but, for now, they're only available in Norway.
In January, McDonald’s announced on Instagram that it had added “McFalafel” to its menu in Sweden.
That same month, the chain rolled out a vegan Happy Meal in the UK, featuring a flour tortilla wrap filled with veggies.
The wrap, which is available in both kid-friendly and adult versions, consists of breaded vegetable tenders: Blended split peas, breadcrumbs, Arborio rice, sun-dried tomato pesto and red peppers make up each fried strip. The kids' wrap includes tomato ketchup and shredded lettuce, too. The adult option features a spicy tomato relish, tomato, lettuce and red onion.
In 2017, however, McDonald’s offered its first vegan burger, named “The McVegan,” in Finland.
The soy-based burger received mouthwatering reactions form vegans and non-vegans alike. After its limited-time release in Finland, it became a permanent fixture on the menu by December of that year.
Not to be completely left out, the McDonald’s U.S. headquarters eatery in Chicago launched a vegan burger in December 2018. The offering is called the “McAloo Tikki," which is one of the chain's best-selling products from its restaurant menu in India. The Chicago location offers a variety of international menu items not readily found at most locations in the U.S.
The McAloo Tikki features a veggie patty made from potatoes and peas, topped with red onions, tomato slices and an eggless tomato mayo. Despite many U.S. consumers looking for more vegan options at McDonald's, the McAloo Tikki hasn’t rolled out anywhere else in the states.
In Norway, McDonald’s offers a “Vegetarian McFeast,” too, which includes a vegetable and bean-based alternative to the “Chicken McFeast,” a standard chicken patty sandwich.
Both the meat-less and meaty McFeasts offer an interesting comparison for health-conscious eaters.
The veggie based burger has 542 calories, 23 grams of fat, 15 grams of sugar, 3.7 grams of salt and 14 grams of protein. In contrast, the chicken patty sandwich has 497 calories, 31 grams of fat, 6.5 grams of sugar, 3.4 grams of salt and 32 grams of protein. The chicken burger offers customers more than double the protein with fewer calories, less sugar and a bit less salt than the vegetarian meal.
The vegan McNuggets' nutritional information is not yet available. However, a starchy meal of vegan nuggets and a side of fries contains mostly potatoes and vegetable oil. It would not be a great choice for many people (like Al Roker, for example) who avoid eating lots of carbohydrates.
Just like some of McDonald’s higher-calorie salads, these vegan options may provide some fresh ingredients to consumers, but aren't necessarily healthier than their meatier counterparts.