The cheap price of a McDouble, the enticing smell of chicken nuggets, the mysteriously delicious sauce on a Big Mac: the options on the McDonald's menu seem endless… that is, unless you’re vegetarian. Even the french fries are fried with natural beef flavor. This means that many classic entrees are now off-limits, but there are still vegetarian substitutes to satisfy your fast food cravings. 

People become vegetarian for health, ethical, or economic reasons. McDonald’s offers a variety of vegetarian options, whether you are taking personal health, ethical issues, economical efficiency (including minimal impact on the environment), or all three factors into consideration. So here are the details on the various vegetarian options McDonald’s has to offer.

Ice Cream

When the ice cream machine is working at your local McDonald's, you can pick up a sweet treat in the form of a sundae, a cone, a milkshake, and the hallowed McFlurry. You can pick up an Oreo or M&Ms-infused McFlurry at most U.S. locations. You can rest assured, there are no meat products contained in these desserts. 

Vegetarian Egg McMuffin

While the classic Egg McMuffin comes with a slice of bacon or a sausage patty, you can easily remove the meat. Order your Egg McMuffin without bacon and you still have an egg and cheese in a bun. If you’re vegetarian for ethical or environmental reasons, however, this may not be the choice for you. Thoughts of the cramped conditions chickens live in prior to being slaughtered may make your eggs a little less tasty. Based on USGS research, it takes about 50 gallons of water to produce a single egg. Think twice before ordering this breakfast sandwich.

Breakfast Hotcakes

With 580 calories in a serving of 3 hotcakes, this falls on the higher end of breakfast calorie counts. Considering the presence of eggs and milk in these cakes, there is no strong ethical or environmental appeal. Skip the hotcakes and order a healthier breakfast option instead, such as oatmeal. 

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

The fruit may not be fresh, but you’re getting a healthy breakfast to start the day off strong. If you don’t mind semi-frozen strawberries as a topping, the oatmeal is ethically produced with minimal environmental impacts. Oatmeal, even from McDonald’s, contains many nutrients such as fiber, protein, and iron that will boost your energy as you head off to work or school.

Breakfast Pastries

Begin your day at the McCafé Bakery when you pick up a delicious coffee and blueberry muffin, a cinnamon roll, or even an apple fritter.  These options may not be as healthy as the oatmeal listed above, but a little iced pastry is a wonderful way to start the day. 


Typical smoothie flavors are strawberry banana or mango pineapple. A smoothie can be a great addition to your breakfast or lunch, containing around 200 calories and a decent portion of carbs. The origins and quality of the fruit may be uncertain, but the smoothies are ethically produced with little effect on the surrounding environment.

Baked Desserts

Baked goods may not seem to be one of McDonald’s specialties, but the baked apple pie and fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies are a pleasantly delicious surprise. There are no signs of meat, and the low amounts of calories in these baked desserts will satisfy your sweeth tooth more than a high-calorie shake or sundae.