McPlant taste test: New McDonald’s vegan burger ‘tastes like papier mache’

·4-min read
McPlant taste test: New McDonald’s vegan burger ‘tastes like papier mache’

While McDonald’s vegan offering has been far from the fast food behemoth’s great strength — its website menu rather limply lists Fanta and Irn-Bru among the options — the chain has this week taken a substantial leap on from its carrot bags and veggie fritters with the introduction of the first ever vegan McDonald’s burger.

Called the McPlant, McDonald’s worked on the patty with plant-based food group Beyond Meat, and it’s topped with vegan cheese, made from a pea protein; a new vegan burger sauce; tomato ketchup; mustard; onion; pickles; and lettuce. Its sesame bun is also vegan and, over here at least, McDonald’s chips are vegan as well.

The chief marketing officer for McDonald’s UK and Ireland, Michelle Graham-Clare, said of the launch: “We’re so pleased to be finally launching McPlant in the UK and Ireland. As with every McDonald’s offering, we take our time to ensure it meets the highest standards and is something that all our customers will enjoy.

“We are always looking for different ways to innovate and meet our customers’ needs, and with McPlant we have a delicious plant-based burger that will appeal to everyone. Whether you’re vegan or just fancy a plant-based patty, we’re confident you will enjoy the McPlant.”

Where can I get the McPlant burger?

The McPlants are now available at 250 McDonald’s, including 19 in central London, but will be available nationwide from January 2022.

Below, read the Standard’s taste test, and for more information on the McPlant, head to mcdonalds.com.

A vegan writes…

Samantha Herbert

It’s been 20 years since I last had a McDonald’s burger, and I’ll admit — I’ve missed it. Sugary, salty, entirely deficient in nutritional value but ultimately delicious, as the vegan scene has grown, the lack of a vegan alternative from our favourite scary clown has been notable.

After three years in the making — and much Instagram fanfare — I had high hopes, but sadly this was not the great return I had craved.

The McPlant patty has a taste and texture reminiscent of an early Noughties frozen number, the kind I used to buy at health food shops before trendy hipster delis existed — and definitely before high-street fast food restaurants leapt on the trend.

It might have been saved by some good burger add-ons: McDonald’s food is made by the sauce and gherkin. There was no such redemption in this bun.

All in all, the McPlant burger was decidedly flat. A fine option after midnight, or in a moment of desperation in a train station — but with so many better options now on the market I won’t be rushing back to this anytime soon.

A meat-lover writes…

David Ellis

The more vegan options on the high-street the better, I reckon, so long as no-one is trying to say they’re especially healthier or more environmentally friendly (some are; a lot of the highly-processed offerings aren’t). But people are vegan for all sorts of reasons — an objection to animal cruelty, most obviously — and so I think the world’s biggest fast-food chain should ensure everyone feels welcome in its restaurants. And, well, if it doesn’t, it’s being a little dim — there is money to be made, after all.

News of McDonald’s finally getting on board in a substantial way felt big. The chain say it’s taken three years of development, but part of me wonders if the Golden Arches thought this whole plant-based eating thing might just quietly disappear and was biding its time. But now we have it: the McPlant.

I can’t pretend they’re a staple of my diet, but I have a soft spot for a Maccies: the (meat) burgers taste unlike anybody else’s. Sure, I know I’ll need to eat something else about half an hour later if I want to be full, but there’s just something about those gherkin-covered, sauce-soaked patties and that slightly sweet bun. They’re their own thing.

So, I figured, if 36 months of trial and error means Ronald & Co can bring that joy to the meat-swervers, then hurrah. The more of us getting that fix, the better. Alas, it’s not to be — at least, not yet. Samantha has it perfectly; this was flat and lifeless, but also unconvincing, as though it were a papier mache replica of the real thing. It certainly tasted like papier mache. The sauce was not up to scratch and, frankly, there are far better vegan burgers out there; even those that aren’t especially good mimics of meat do, on their own terms, taste nicer. McDonald’s, do better: this wasn’t the McPlant, it was a McFacePlant.

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