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Are mcdonalds fries vegan?

vegetable salad served on black ceramic plate

Are McDonald’s fries vegan?

Ingredients of McDonald’s Fries

McDonald’s is one of the most popular fast-food chains globally, known for its iconic fries. However, when it comes to determining whether McDonald’s fries are vegan, there is some debate. Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients to understand why.

The Potato Component

At the core of McDonald’s fries are potatoes. Potatoes themselves are vegan, as they are a plant-based food. However, the preparation and cooking process of McDonald’s fries involve more than just potatoes.

Beef Flavoring Controversy

One of the main concerns regarding the vegan status of McDonald’s fries is the beef flavoring used in the cooking process. Until 1990, McDonald’s fries were cooked in beef tallow, which is a rendered form of beef fat. This gave the fries their unique taste and texture.

However, McDonald’s changed its cooking process in 1990 to a vegetable oil blend, making the fries suitable for vegetarians. But the beef flavoring remained, leading to the question of whether the fries are truly vegan.

McDonald’s Official Statement

According to McDonald’s official statement, their fries are vegan. They claim that the beef flavoring used in the cooking process is derived from wheat and milk ingredients, making it vegetarian-friendly. However, this statement has faced criticism and skepticism from vegan communities.

Potential Cross-Contamination

Another concern for vegans is the potential for cross-contamination during the cooking process. McDonald’s cooks various products in the same fryers, including non-vegan items such as chicken nuggets and fish fillets. This raises the possibility of trace amounts of animal products ending up in the fries.

Independent Testing

Several independent tests have been conducted to determine the vegan status of McDonald’s fries. One such test was conducted by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in 2002. The results showed that the fries contained trace amounts of beef flavoring, confirming the presence of animal-derived ingredients.

McDonald’s Response to Independent Testing

McDonald’s responded to the independent testing by stating that the beef flavoring used in their fries is so minimal that it falls below the threshold to be considered a non-vegan ingredient. They argue that the amount is so small that it does not affect the vegan status of the fries.


The question of whether McDonald’s fries are vegan remains a topic of debate. While McDonald’s claims that their fries are vegan, independent testing has shown the presence of trace amounts of beef flavoring. Ultimately, the decision to consume McDonald’s fries as a vegan is a personal one, taking into consideration individual beliefs and dietary choices.