If you are vegan, you know how tough it can be to eat fast food. Even if an option is available, it is difficult to trust the kitchen. But I had done some homework, and I knew that Sweden was extra vegan-friendly compared to other places.
In fact, Sweden is so vegan-friendly that the “McVegan” burger was developed here. Sweden is one of the few places in the world where the McVegan is sold. And I have been planning a trip to Sweden with almost the sole purpose of getting to try the McVegan.
Now, generally, I try to avoid McDonalds despite the very nostalgic connections I have to the place. Every once in a while I start to crave the hot fudge sundae and I will sneak off for one. But, otherwise, my only fast food splurges are usually confined to Subway sandwiches, and usually in a pinch.
*Side note: I have taught the book Fast Food Nation many times, and my colleague taught it to our students this semester. I read 40 final exams that talked about the ills of fast food in America… And still, I can’t help but want to eat at McDonalds.
But Sweden not only delivers the McVegan at McDonalds’… the local Max Hamburger chain also offers vegan fare. Since both fast food restaurants were within 70 meters of each other and only a two-minute walk from my hotel, the vegan taste off was on!
Both restaurants offered kiosk ordering. (I never want to order at the counter again!)
Max Hamburgers was significantly more crowded, and significantly more expensive. Max also didn’t have a vegan hamburger though they had a lot of vegetarian options. Max was also very dirty…but it was also very tasty. As one of the oldest hamburger chains in Sweden, it has some authenticity points.
The verdict: the McVegan burger did not disappoint. It had that good old McDonalds’ taste I remembered from my youth. More impressive, however, would be if they made a McVegan burger version of the Big Mac. Then I would most definitely have to live in Sweden.
Max Hamburgers was just darn tasty. The vegan burger option was a barbecue pulled pork type of sandwich with jalapeños. While not my favorite sandwich, this one was absolutely the best vegan version I have ever had. The barbecue sauce was sweet and spicy and the vegan “meat” was a nice texture. The fries were also significantly better. The meal, however, cost almost twice as much.
Another Max bonus: we also had vegetarian chicken nuggets that I am pretty sure were vegan (according to a food blogger) and were definitely vegetarian according to the menu, but they were a little too much like my memory of the real thing. But they were very good, and my husband’s favorite.
Another Max drawback: There are a wide variety of sauces available, but any extra sauce costs 7 Swedish krona (SEK) for a very small cup. Thus, we only had the vegan mayo, which was very good. Very good, but not my first choice of sauce.
All said, I would eat both of these vegan fast food meals again, especially after my vegan internet research yielded two failed attempts: one to find a vegan grocery store that was a café instead, and one to find a buffet that I imagined being endless and only included a couple of not-so-good-looking choices. Further, the grocery stores in Sweden are stocked with vegan options. So, while food can be a bit pricey, the vegan food is not hard to find. Finally, both fast food options were significantly healthier than fast food in the U.S., so it is almost guilt-free.
And then there were those non-vegan splurges, like my favorite new discovery—Princess Cake. But that is another blog.