Are Mcdonald’s Fries Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

September 26, 2023

Hello, friends of the Earth! Today, we’re diving deep into a question that’s been stirring up curiosity in our community: Are McDonald’s Fries vegan? 

Unraveling the vegan status of anything from this fast food giant is no easy task. This complexity stems from the often unclear and confusing ingredient lists that manufacturers and restaurants like McDonald’s present.

In this article, we aim to shed light on the truth behind these golden strips of potatoes, aiding you in your vegan journey, and simplifying your decision-making process.

Are Mcdonald’s French Fries Vegan?

The answer to whether McDonald’s Fries are vegan is not straightforward because it varies from country to country.

In the United States, McDonald’s french fries are not vegan. However, in the United Kingdom, the fries are vegan. And in countries like Australia and Canada, Mcdonald’s Fries, could be considered vegan by some if you don’t count cross-contamination.

The reason for this discrepancy is due to the use of natural beef flavor in the fries in the United States, which is derived from milk, a non-vegan ingredient.

In contrast, in the United Kingdom, the fries are cooked in a vegan-friendly blend of vegetable oils, such as sunflower and rapeseed oil, and do not contain any animal-derived ingredients.

However, in Canada and down under in Australia, the fries can’t claim vegan status due to potential cross-contamination in the cooking process.

Are Mcdonald’s Fries Cruelty-Free?

No, McDonald’s world-famous fries are not cruelty-free. Several of the ingredients, including soybean oil, corn oil, and dextrose, come from GMOs. GMOs are tested on animals to ensure their safety for human consumption.

What Are Mcdonald’s Fries Made Of?

Here is a list of all the ingredients in McDonald’s Fries:

  • Potatoes
  • Vegetable oil (canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil)
  • Natural beef flavor (in the US)
  • Dextrose
  • Sodium acid pyrophosphate
  • Salt
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Hydrogenated soybean oil
  • TBHQ
  • Citric acid
  • Dimethylpolysiloxane


Potatoes are the main ingredient in McDonald’s Fries. They are a plant-based ingredient, which means they are vegan. However, the way they are prepared and what they are cooked with can affect their vegan status.

Vegetable oil

Vegetable oil is a vegan ingredient. It is derived from plants and is used in the cooking process of the fries, but it’s probably GMO, and, thus, not cruelty-free.

Natural beef flavor

However, the natural beef flavor oil used in the US is not vegan because it contains milk and wheat derivatives.


Dextrose is a sugar derived from starches, like corn, and is vegan, but it’s probably GMO, and, thus, not cruelty-free.

Sodium acid pyrophosphate

Sodium acid pyrophosphate is a food additive used to maintain the color of the fries. It is vegan.


Salt is a mineral and is therefore vegan.

Canola oil

Canola oil is a plant-derived oil used in the blend for frying McDonald’s fries, contributing to their crispy texture. It is vegan friendly.

Corn oil

Corn oil, derived from corn kernels, is another component of the oil blend used for frying the fries. This plant-based oil is vegan.

Soybean oil

Soybean oil comes from soybeans and is part of the oil blend used for frying, adding to the fries’ flavor and texture. It is vegan.

Hydrogenated soybean oil

Hydrogenated soybean oil is a more stable form of soybean oil used in the frying process. Despite its modification, it remains a vegan ingredient.


TBHQ is a synthetic antioxidant that is used to extend the storage life of foods. It is vegan.

Citric acid

Citric acid is a natural preservative that is often used as a flavor enhancer in food products. It is vegan.


Dimethylpolysiloxane is a type of silicone used as an anti-foaming agent in the oil used to fry the fries. It is vegan but is often criticized due to health concerns.

Hydrolyzed Milk

Hydrolyzed milk is a product derived from cow’s milk that has been broken down into simpler components through a process called hydrolysis. It is used in the beef flavor. Because it originates from an animal source, it is not considered vegan.

Why Aren’t Mcdonald’s Fries Vegan?

In the United States, McDonald’s Fries are not vegan because they contain natural beef flavor and hydrolyzed milk, both of which are derived from animal products. 

However, in the United Kingdom, the fries are vegan because they do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. In Canada and Australia, the fries can’t be given the vegan stamp due to a possibility of cross-contamination in the cooking process.

McDonald’s Fries Varieties

The vegan status of McDonald’s Fries varieties may also vary depending on the country. It’s always best to check the ingredients and ask the staff at your local McDonald’s to ensure that what you’re ordering aligns with your dietary preferences.

Are McDonald’s Fries Vegan in the United States?

Unfortunately, in the United States, McDonald’s fries are not vegan. They contain a natural beef flavoring which includes milk derivatives. This ingredient is added during the cooking process and means that the fries are not suitable for a vegan diet.

Are McDonald’s Fries Vegan in the UK?

In the UK, McDonald’s fries are cooked in a non-hydrogenated blend of rapeseed and sunflower oil, meaning they are vegan friendly. The fries are not coated in any fats or substances from an animal. They are 100% suitable for vegans according to McDonald’s UK.

Are McDonald’s Fries Vegan in Australia?

In Australia, McDonald’s fries could be considered vegan friendly because they do not contain any animal ingredients. However, the fries may be cooked in the same oil as non-vegan menu items, which could lead to cross-contamination. This is a common issue in many fast-food chains and is something that strict vegans may want to consider.

Are McDonald’s Fries Vegan in Canada?

In Canada, McDonald’s Fries are also free from animal-derived ingredients and are cooked in vegetable oil. However, they are not certified as vegan. This is due to the potential risk of cross-contamination, since the fries may be cooked in the same oil as non-vegan menu items.

Vegan Alternatives to Mcdonald’s Fries

If you’re seeking vegan alternative brands to McDonald’s Fries, consider the following options:

  • Homemade fries: You can make your own fries at home using potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt.
  • Veggie Grill: This vegan fast-food chain offers sweet potato fries.
  • Burger King: Their fries are vegan, cooked in vegetable oil, and do not contain any animal-derived ingredients.


So there you have it! Not all fries are created equal. In the US, they sneak in a natural beef flavor — a no-go for us plant-based folks. In Australia and Canada, while the ingredients are plant based, the potential for cross-contamination during the cooking process means they’re not certified vegan. 

But hey, there’s a silver lining! If you’re in the UK, you’re in luck — the McDonald’s UK fries are certified vegan.

So, dear vegan friends, let’s continue to be discerning and mindful, ensuring our choices are in harmony with our commitment to a plant-based lifestyle.