McDonald's Is Finally Debuting a Veggie Burger in the U.S., but Is It Healthy?

Should vegetarians rejoice? Let's take a look at the juicy details.

McDonald’s® McPlant on a designed background
Photo: McDonalds, Getty Images / SOPA Images

Next month, McDonald's will offer its first meatless burger, the McPlant, at select locations across the U.S. While it's important to be mindful of your fast food consumption, it doesn't need to be considered "off-limits" and can be part of a healthy lifestyle. As someone who follows a plant-forward diet, I have refrained from eating processed meats like the ones at McDonald's for over a decade. Now, I'm excited about the prospect of treating myself to a vegetarian burger from the fast-food giant.

The nutrition for one McPlant burger is as follows (note: this is nutrition information from the U.K. where the McPlant is already in stores):

  • 429 calories
  • 20g fat
  • 6.6g saturated fat
  • 40g carbohydrate
  • 10g sugar
  • 4.6g fiber
  • 19g protein
  • 2,200mg salt

The McPlant patty was co-developed with Beyond Meat, maker of the Beyond Burger and other meat-mimicking products. The highly anticipated patty will be exclusive to McDonald's and is made from plant-based ingredients like pea protein, rice protein and potato starch. It's important to note that the burger as a whole contains non-plant-based ingredients such as American cheese and mayonnaise, so the menu item is not vegan, egg-free or dairy-free. It will also be cooked on the same grill as meat-based products and eggs which is an important consideration for those with allergies, too. McDonald's has reassured customers that guests can customize and request to hold the cheese and mayonnaise, or any other ingredients.

Compared to a Big Mac, the McPlant might sound like a good option. Here's what our associate nutrition editor, Jessica Ball, M.S. RD, has to say:

"While the McPlant is a good option for those trying to cut down on animal proteins, it is important to remember that it is still a highly processed food. It can be a good choice on occasion, but shouldn't be eaten regularly. It has fewer calories and grams of fat than a traditional Quarter Pounder with Cheese, but it does have notably more sodium. If you follow a vegetarian or plant-based diet, the McPlant could be a good affordable option when you are on the road or need something in a pinch, but shouldn't be a staple of your eating pattern."

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