McDonald’s famous apple pie has been a popular part of the fast food chain’s legacy since the 1960s and is loved by many – but can it be enjoyed by vegans?
As with many processed food products, the answer to ‘is it vegan?’ isn’t a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and generally depends on how strict of a vegan you are (and where in the world you are ordering the item from).
In the UK, however, technically McDonald’s apple pie is suitable for vegans because it contains no meat or dairy products within its ingredients. However, it has a disclaimer that doesn’t guarantee it is free from cross-contamination.
So, the answer is a mixture of yes and no.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The links below may be affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
What Goes into McDonalds’ Apple Pie?
The current UK ingredients of McDonald’s apple pie are as follows:
- Wheat Flour (contains Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin)
- Apple (22%)
- Modified Starch (Maize, Corn)
- Vegetable Oil (Palm, Rapeseed)
- Mixed Spices (Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg, Cassia Extract)
- Raising Agent (Sodium Carbonates)
- Invert Sugar Syrup
- Lemon Juice Concentrate
- Flavouring, Thickener (Locust Bean Gum)
- Yeast Extract
- Emulsifier (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids)
- Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid)
Why Isn’t McDonald’s Apple Pie Considered Fully Vegan?
It may be confusing that while the ingredients above don’t list any meat or dairy products, McDonald’s apple pie still isn’t listed as vegan.
This is because (in the UK, at least), although McDonald’s apple pies are vegan by ingredient and are not fried alongside animal products, the oil used for the apple pies is filtered using the same device as the oil used to cook chicken and fish. Therefore, there’s a small chance of cross-contamination with meat, fish, and milk.
Is McDonald’s Apple Pie Considered Vegetarian?
The same rule applies to vegetarians – it depends on how strict of a vegetarian you are.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian for ethical reasons, it is probably not appealing that many of their non-meat products can’t be considered vegan or vegetarian because of the cross-contamination risk.
However, if you are just avoiding having meat as a part of your diet for health reasons, treating yourself to a McDonald’s apple pie occasionally shouldn’t be a problem.
The Questionable Ethics of McDonald’s
Many vegans choose to steer clear of McDonald’s because many of the company’s ethics do not align with many vegans who are in it for moral, ethical, and sustainability reasons.
McDonald’s are famously one of the key culprits in the ongoing global deforestation crisis, which is caused by the mass production of soy feed they use to feed the cattle that is then bred for burger meat, although in recent years they have taken action to reduce their impact on the environment and the world’s rainforests.
They also cull billions of cattle and chickens every year.
What are the Vegan Options at McDonald’s?
In 2022, vegans are able to step inside any McDonald’s in the UK and order items from the menu that are completely vegan. These include:
The newly launched McPlant is the chain’s vegan version of the Big Mac.
It consists of a vegan burger made with a plant-based patty (co-developed with Beyond Meat®) featuring vegan sandwich mayo, ketchup, mustard, onion, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and a vegan cheese.
The Spicy Veggie One
The Spicy Veggie One is a wrap filled with red pesto veggie goujons with spicy relish, tomato, lettuce, and red onion
The Happy Meal Veggie Wrap
A kids or a lighter vegan meal, this wrap is made with a red pesto goujon and tomato ketchup with shredded lettuce along with a drink of your choice and fries or fruit bag.
The dippers are a blend of red pepper and sundried tomato pesto, all coated in crispy golden breadcrumbs.
A fan favourite – the French Fries are completely vegan/vegetarian friendly. However, because they are fried in oil, the same small risk of cross-contamination applies as with the apple pie.
This is the same regarding McDonald’s hash browns.
Other Fast Food Restaurants/Takeaways with Vegan Options
For pizza lovers, vegans can indulge in the Vegan Works from Papa John’s.
Their jackfruit “pepperoni” tastes very similar to the original, and the vegan sausage, chestnut mushrooms, green peppers, onions and olives blend perfectly with the vegan cheese and tomato sauce to bring a pizza packed full of cruelty-free flavour.
Other vegan pizzas/sides from Papa John’s include:
- Vegan Garden Party
- Vegan Cheese & Tomato (Margarita-style)
- The Vegan Works
- The Stinger
- Vegan Chilli Freak
- Cauliflower wings
- Vegan cheese potato tots
- Vegan chicken nugget bites
- Vegan cheese & marmite scrolls
Pret offer several delicious vegans options, including:
- Falafel, Avo & Chipotle Flat Bread is a healthy lunch option packed full of vitamins and flavour.
- Hummus & Falafel Mezze Salad Bowl. This healthy and tasty mezze/salad has a great range of nutrients with good doses of fibre and protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
- Acai & Almond Butter Bowl. Sliced banana, granola and acai berry puree. Topped with shredded apple, pomegranate seeds and almond butter.
- Vegan Breakfast Baguette. Creamy smashed avocado. Topped with roasted mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.
- Coconut Porridge. Oats and red quinoa simmered in coconut milk to create a rich, creamy porridge.
- Mango & Banana Sunshine Bowl. Blended mango and banana, with a splash of coconut milk and a dash of turmeric. Topped with granola, blueberries and coconut chips.
- Avo, Olives & Toms Baguette. Sliced avocado. With Kalamata olive tapenade, roasted tomatoes and peppery rocket. Finished with whole-leaf basil and a sprinkling of roasted pine nuts.
- Meatless Meatball Hot Wrap.
- Chef’s Special – Sunshine ‘n Spice Wrap
- Vegan Hoisin Mushroom Wrap.
- Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Cookie.
Released in 2019, the Vegan Sausage Roll proved a massive hit, and it showed many food companies that vegan food is very popular these days – and is still one of their best-selling items.
They also released a festive mushroom and cranberry baked slice over the festive period. Larger branches of the company are now selling vegan sandwich options too.
Though they don’t have as many vegan pizzas as Papa John’s, Domino’s do have a few vegan offerings on their menu.
Their Chick-Ain’t offering utilises soya strips in place of chicken, and if you throw on some extras (such as jalapeños and mushrooms) to go with the onions and peppers, this is a tasty treat and also a good source of vegan protein.
The Vegan Royale is the plant-based version of the company’s famous ‘Chicken Royale’. The “chicken” part of the product is created by the Vegetarian Butcher, and is a very good imitation of the original.
It comes with vegan mayo and iceberg lettuce, which replicates it well. Their fries are also vegan, of course.
Pizza Hut have been providing plant-based pizza options for a while, but recently they’ve incorporated veganism into their desserts menu with a vegan-friendly cheesecake made with vegan caramel and biscuit – and it’s delicious.
Starbucks has been a vegan-friendly establishment for a while, with almost all of their classic drinks being available as a dairy-free option (substituting cow’s milk with oat, almond, coconut, or soy milk).
The following can be veganised:
- Flat White
- Cafe Americano
- Caffe Latte
- Caffe Mocha (make sure to ask for it with the vegan whipped cream)
- Cafe Misto
- Strawberry and Vanilla Oat Latte (if served without dairy foam topping)
- Dark Cocoa and Orange Oat Latte
- Blonde Espresso (a lighter roast of coffee)
- Espresso Macchiato
- Latte Macchiato
- Caramel Macchiato
- Filter Coffee
- Classic Hot Chocolate, without cream or with vegan whipped cream topping
- Fudge Brownie Hot Chocolate, without the chocolate whipped cream and fudge sprinkles (both contain milk)
- Berry Hot Chocolate (if served without dairy foam topping)
Vegan Syrups & Flavours
- Vanilla Syrup
- Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup
- Caramel Syrup
- Sugar-Free Caramel Syrup
- Hazelnut Syrup
- Sugar-Free Hazelnut Syrup
- Almond Syrup
- Gingerbread (may be seasonal)
- Mocha Drizzle
- Pumpkin Spice Sauce (seasonal)
- Coconut and Lime Cake
- Beyond Meat Breakfast Sandwich
- Turkee and Trimmings Toastie (seasonal)
- Very Merry Beyond Meat Sandwich (seasonal)
- No Meatball Marinara Wrap
- Spinach and Pea Falafel Wrap
- Tu-Nah Sandwich
- Five Grain Oatmeal
- Dark Chocolate Bar
- Peanut Butter Cups
- Cherry and Linseed Crown (pastry)
- Carrot Cake
- Chocolate and Caramel Muffin
- Pecan and Caramel Brownie Slice
- Caramel and Date Cookie
- Peach and Raspberry Overnight Oats
How to Make Your Own Vegan McDonald’s-Style Apple Pie
Who doesn’t love apple pie?! If you fancy a sugary treat that doesn’t run the risk of cross-contamination with any animal components, why not make your own at home? Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 tbsp vegan margarine
- 2 apples
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
- 1 sheet puff pastry (320g / 11.3oz), or gluten free version
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to one side to soften for later.
- Add the vegan margarine to a saucepan over a medium heat. While the margarine melts, remove the cores from the apples, then peel and roughly dice them into 1cm pieces.
- Add the apples to the saucepan along with the granulated sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and ground cinnamon.
- Stir to combine and cook for 10 minutes until the apples have softened.
- Combine the cornflour with 3 tbsp of cold water to form a paste then add it to the saucepan, stir, and cook through for 3 minutes.
- When the apples are ready remove them from the heat and transfer to a bowl. This will make them cool quicker.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F fan assisted.
- Meanwhile prepare the vegan egg-wash by combining the maple syrup and vegetable oil in a small mixing bowl.
- Next, roll out the pastry, then slice it into quarters. Then slice each quarter in half lengthways so you’re left with 8 rectangles.
- Once the apples have fully cooled, spoon a quarter of the mixture down the middle of 4 of the pastry rectangles, leaving 1/2cm clear around the edges. Brush the edges with the vegan egg-wash.
- Cover the apple mixture with another rectangle of pastry and seal the edges with your fingers.
- Next ‘crimp’ the edges with a fork and use a knife to cut a few slits in the top.
- Brush the top of the pastry with the vegan egg wash and sprinkle a little more sugar over the top.
- Bake for 15-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
So, we have discovered that the ingredients to McDonald’s apple pie are in fact vegan, however, a disclaimer from the company states that they cannot guarantee the products aren’t susceptible to cross-contamination from the fryer oil, which may or may not be an issue to non-strict vegans.
However, many vegans avoid McDonald’s because of their contribution to mass deforestation and the culling of millions of cattle every year.
As veganism becomes more embraced within mainstream culture, more and more popular restaurants (including McDonald’s) have started adding vegan options to their menus, such as the McPlant Burger (McDonald’s), the Vegan Royal (Burger King), and many items on the Starbucks food and drink menu, including most of their popular drinks (which can be veganised).
McDonald’s apple pie has been a popular addition to the chain’s menu since the 1960s, and although it cannot be fully vegan-certified, you can make your own version at home.