For a long time, it wasn’t easy being a vegan on the way home from a night out. While your mates piled into McDonald's, ordering Double Big Macs with a Spicy Chicken McNuggets Sharebox on the side, you’d be the one picking at a pile of anemic-looking fries washed down with Coke. Really, you wanted exactly the same thing, just without the animal cruelty and methane-related environmental repercussions.
But times have changed. Vegans have junk food too now. There’s the Greggs sausage roll, which launched one year ago today, causing Piers Morgan to call them "PC-ravaged clowns”. There’s the KFC vegan burger – a Quorn chicken fillet battered in its famous "11 herbs and spices" mix – which rolled out nationwide in the UK today. There’s Subway’s vegan Meatball Marinara, everything served at Temple of Seitan, all the delicious frozen shit sold by Iceland… we could go on.
But today is particularly historic because McDonald's released their first vegan meal in the UK. It’s not a vegan burger though, which might have made more sense. Instead, the massive corporation is leaning into Veganuary with vegan veggie dippers, which will set you back £3.59 on their own, or £4.89 with fries and a drink. We sent down associate editors Ryan Bassil (non-vegan, long-time McDonald's megafan) and Daisy Jones, (vegan who probably hasn’t stepped foot in McDonald's since the 90s), to review them. A healthy start to the year and that.
Vegan verdict: The perfect batter should be light, crunchy, not too greasy, with a balance of flavoursome and addictive spices. This veggie dipper batter was… fine? It didn’t leave too many crumbs or too much grease on my hands afterwards and it didn’t make me feel like I was going to shit myself like some batter does, but if I’m being honest it was nothing in comparison to KFC.
Meat-eater verdict: I love a bit of batter. In fact, I adore the delicately spiced breadcrumbs so much I’ll often even go for the unspiced variety: on golden McNuggets and the larger, fillet sized Chicken Select, for example. I had high hopes for the “Veggie Dippers”. They ticked several boxes. They had a dark orange rather than beige batter. They had been artfully designed with ridges, perhaps denoting quality. Unfortunately, the batter – bog-standard at best – is the best thing going for them.
THE STUFFING INSIDE
Vegan verdict: Yeeeah, no. This is where the veggie dippers fall flat. I expected a bit of vegan cheese or something, or at least some quorn, but it was more like a canteen bean burger that had been pulverised, with water added. It was nearly cheesy, but not quite. Nearly curry-flavoured, but not quite. It was not quite anything. Maybe this would have been a novelty food item ten years ago, but we have Papa John’s Vegan Sheese Marmite Scrolls now so don’t waste my time!
Meat-eater verdict: What is… in this?? Hard to know. Initially I thought it could have been a vegetable curry – the sludge inside felt like a mix of pulses, beans, tomato (the latter of which oozes out, piping hot, onto your hands). Had the odd bit of rice in there too. This all seems healthy? But it's too close in consistency, texture and look to baby food / pavement and it's weird to buy it without knowing exactly what's in the dippers. Yes, you could click through on the website to find out, but that's long. Tell me what’s in the “veggies” Ronald!
THE WHOLE THING:
Vegan verdict: I really wanted to like these. I really did. I love eating trash vegan food and have been embracing the recent move away from soggy falafel wraps and more towards fake meat and cheese that actually melts with open arms. But these dippers were disappointing. They didn’t taste like anything and they cost me £3.59 of my hard-earned cash. If I wanted a healthy meal, I would buy some vegetables.
Meat-eater verdict: Honestly? Gross and disgusting and I’m feeling let down once again by a huge multinational corporation. Given their global domination you might think McDonald's would put more effort into their first vegan product – maybe launching a burger to rival KFC. But this is… just not it. It’s not going to be getting anyone switching over from meat; it won’t be getting the vegans salivating. It needs to die quick and quiet before anyone finds out it exists. Which… onto the next point!
GIMMICKS TO MAKE YOU BUY THE DIPPERS/MARKETING:
Vegan verdict: When Greggs dropped their vegan sausage roll, their PR sent it to the VICE UK office in a smooth matte Apple-style white box with the roll wrapped in paper. In comparison, I didn’t know about these dippers until I walked into work this morning.
Meat-eater verdict: Let’s just say I wouldn’t have known this product existed had I not put a reminder in my calendar in mid-December – something that only happened because it is my duty to report on cultural happenings in the world. Just do better McDonald's. Do better; do better. I demand it!