Even the healthiest, most disciplined, most “my-body-is-a-temple” type person has to admit that once in a while there’s nothing better than a cheeky McDonald’s. Whether it’s a bad day that pushes you over the edge and into that vat of tasty fat, or you wait until it’s 3 am and spy those golden arches gleaming at you through blurry beer goggles, a secret love of the fast-food giant is something that many of us share, but few of us are willing to ‘fess up about.
But while it’s fair to say that the iconic fast food chain has cleaned up their act in recent years, moving towards fresher meats and ditching ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, we’re still never quite sure about what’s really in their food. Is that pink chicken nugget video real? Will it still look exactly the same if you leave it for a decade? You can never be too sure.
What we do know, is that for vegetarians, McDonald’s is no longer the complete and utter no-go it used to be – well, in some countries at least. While the company says that there are no certified vegetarian or vegan products on its US menu, in some countries the chain does now offer veggie options such as the Vegetable Deluxe burger, egg McMuffin, and fruity porridge.
In Sweden and Finland, they’ve also introduced a McVegan burger following a successful trial last October. Unfortunately, Macca’s say that there are no immediate plans to roll out the soy-based patty into other counties.
That doesn’t mean the burger wasn’t a huge success – as you can probably tell from Cornelia’s reaction, and fans lucky enough to get their hands on one quickly took to social media to rave about how delicious it was.
But the one thing that you may think would be suitable for everyone is the tasty golden fries that no meal – veggie or not – is complete without. You know, the ones that you’d probably be annoyed if you were served anywhere else, but are too dripping in childhood nostalgia for you to regard with anything but love.
And seeing as McDonald’s has also stopped frying them in animal fat, replacing it with vegetable oil, even vegans should be able to get in on the act, right?
Well, actually no, because before you get excited we have a nasty secret to share and you’re not going to like it: Ronald hasn’t been entirely clear with you.
You see, your fries actually contain an additive called “natural beef flavoring”, which is put into the mix to give the potato/oil combination that little something extra. Although it might be called beef, it is actually made from milk. Yep, sorry vegans.
It all stems from the fact that when McDonald’s was first established in the 1950s – back when a hamburger cost just 15 cents – they used beef fat to cook their fries in.
As any fry fan will entirely understand, they instantly became a big seller, so when they made the transition to vegetable oil in the 1990s they had to find a way to keep this famous flavor going. As such, they plumped for adding a little natural beef flavor to the blend.
There’s better news for European vegans though because the flavoring is only actually used in certain countries such as the US and Canada. In the UK, the fries contain only potatoes, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and dextrose, a natural sugar. It kind of makes you wonder why America wouldn’t just do the same really? So far: Europe 1 – 0 America.
Oddly, it’s also still used in India, despite the fact that in 2002, McDonald’s had to pay $10 million to vegetarian groups including Hindus and Sikhs – who hold cows as sacred animals and therefore abstain from eating beef products – for failing to declare the ingredient.
While we’re on the topic of across the pond comparisons, we should probably also point out that heaps of European Maccy D’s sell beer too. Not only must that be really satisfying on a hot day, but it also that solves the problem of needing to eat before you go out and not wanting to waste precious drinking time? Europe 2 – 0 America.
If there’s one thing this goes to show it’s that if you’ve got special dietary requirements, whether by choice or by force, you’ve always got to dig a little deeper when it comes to eating out. And while it may seem deeply unfair to the fry lovers, at least you’re probably staying a little healthier than the rest of us. Every cloud has a silver, fat-free lining.