I have never eaten at McDonald’s. This may sound strange, but having been plant-based my entire life, there was no reason to eat a McDonald’s meal – until now. So I was delighted to try the new McPlant, the all-vegan burger made of Beyond meat, now available at McDonald’s across the UK and coming soon to America. Here’s how it went.
After my kids showed me how to order a meal deal on the large screen, the first thing I noticed was it was a fraction of the cost of more upscale vegan burgers I’ve had elsewhere — a burger, fries, and soda only set me back the equivalent of seven dollars (5 British pounds). I checked with the staff that the McPlant is cooked separately from the meat, which is very important to many vegans, and the servers at my local McDonalds in Sheffield, England assured me that different utensils are used on the vegan patty, so there is no cross-contamination.
Our meal arrived in minutes (this is certainly ‘fast-food’ and beats a longer wait time in other restaurants) and I opened the sesame bun to see a hamburger-sized patty (slimmer than the Beyond burger you buy at the store) with lettuce, tomato, vegan cheese, fresh onion, vegan sauce (mayo style), mustard, dill pickle, and ketchup. Unlike the McPlant that is about to debut in the US, the UK version is entirely vegan, with dairy-free cheese and mayonnaise.
Biting into the McPlant, it seemed a balanced combination of ingredients, and it was tasty! I’m not usually keen on plant-based burgers which are too similar to actual meat, but I was able to eat this without a problem and I think the toppings helped. Afterward, I didn’t feel overly full or bloated, which was a pleasant surprise.
The controversy around McDonald’s
It seems a bit odd to support an establishment that vegans have battled with for a long time, but many people are supporting McDonald’s efforts to provide a plant-based alternative to those consumers who would ordinarily be eating their burgers. It seems to be a good step in the right direction, for the planet and the animals. Vegan products usually carry a premium price tag, so it’s also good to see a mainstream vegan option with a price in line with other burgers.
But is it healthy?
We all know we shouldn’t be eating fast food such as burgers and fries every day, and just because it’s vegan the message is no different. The McPlant is a processed food, and if you have it with fries and a soda, it’s not exactly a healthy meal, plant-based or not.
There are 429 calories in the burger alone — add a medium-sized fries with 337 calories and a soda, and you’re nearly halfway to your daily recommended number of calories per day, which is on average 2,000 calories. The McPlant contains 20 grams of total fat, of which 6.6 grams is saturated fat, the unhealthy kind, and 19 grams of protein, which is mainly pea and rice protein.
Eaten once in a while as a convenient treat for people who otherwise would be meat, the McPlant is a good “transition” food. But for anyone who wants to eat a healthy plant-based diet, the goal is to consume whole foods, not processed ones.
Bottom Line: To help transition from meat the McPlant is a great option.
The McPlant is a cheap, filling, and tasty option. It gets my thumbs up – after waiting 50 years to try a McDonald’s meal. I was happy to be able to join in!