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. 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 economical 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.
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
With only 150 calories and 2 grams of fat, this falls under the healthier end of the vegetarian options. The lack of meat and eggs leads to an ethically and environmentally-friendly produced parfait, so eat up. The only downside is the tendency for the fruit on top to still be frozen.
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.
Hashbrowns and Fries
The McDonald’s potato game is strong with the invention of these two delicious sides. Since you can’t really harm a potato during its lifespan, go ahead and order your favorite snack. If you’re looking for a lower calorie count, the hashbrowns only have 150 calories compared to the 230 calories in a small order of fries.
But there are several awesome ways to get free fries, so it’s a win-win situation. While it takes 100 gallons of water to produce a potato, it’s still less than the amount of water used to make a hamburger, so indulge in the potato goodness.
With 320 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 the oatmeal or yogurt parfait.
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.
The good news: no animals or environmental infrastructures were harmed in the making of this salad. The not-so-good news: the side salad contains a minimal 15 calories, leading to minimal taste and enjoyment. If you want something with a little more flavor, try ordering one of the main salads without chicken.
Typical smoothie flavors are blueberry pomegranate, 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.
Shamrock shake season may come and go, but the calories from the shakes are here to stay. With around 500 calories in every small shake and large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup, you might want to skip this one. As delicious as McDonald’s shakes look, think about the origins of the milk used to create them, and that image will quickly disappear.
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.