CosMc’s, McDonald’s new drinks-focused restaurant, has opened its doors to hour-long lines in Bolingbrook, Illinois. The new concept is potentially the start of a whole new chain for the fast-food giant, as it plans to follow the trial period with 10 new locations in Texas. But is it vegan-friendly? 

Food, unfortunately, is a no-go. But if you’re after a drink, which is actually the focus of the new chain, then you might be in luck. Here’s what we know so far. But first, what is CosMc’s all about?

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What is CosMc’s?

McDonald’s started testing CosMc’s this December, which, according to the chain, is a “small-format, beverage-led concept that’s truly out of this world.” The branding is inspired by a small orange alien featured in McDonald’s advertising in the 1980s.

While the menu features a handful of McDonald’s best-selling food options, like McMuffins, beverages are the real star of the new offering. And that’s because, at least in the US, the fast-food chain just couldn’t get its McCafe coffee brand to really take off, per BBC.

“[McDonald’s] brand recognition tied to burgers and fries was almost too strong in the US for consumers to overcome that identity,” Dorothy Calba, senior research analyst at Euromonitor International, told the publication.

So far, the new concept has been a hit. On opening day, customers queued in their cars for hours to try the new menu. “I’m here because of the intrigue, and I think the McDonald’s empire is something that’s pretty impressive,” one customer told BBC. “I first heard about this launch on TikTok.”

Is there anything vegan at CosMc’s?

If you’re in the mood for a vegan bite to eat, it’s certainly not worth waiting it out in the lines for CosMc’s.

Right now, the food menu offers five sandwich and McMuffin options, none of which are vegan or vegetarian. It also has Savory Hash Brown Bites, which are also likely not vegan (in the main McDonald’s restaurants, they’re cooked in beef fat). None of the baked goods or ice cream options are vegan, either.

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If you want to try a CosMc’s beverage, however, you might be in luck. The Signature Galactic Boosts—including the Sour Cherry Energy Burst, Berry Hibiscus Sour-ade, and Blueberry Ginger Boost—appear to be animal-free.

Its range of iced teas and lemonades, including Tropical Spiceade, Sour Tango Lemonade, and the Island Pick-Me-Up Punch, also appear to be vegan. VegNews has reached out to CosMc’s for confirmation. 

All of the frappés come with whipped cream, but the Pomegranate Hibiscus Slush doesn’t include any animal ingredients. 

In terms of hot drinks, you can also grab options like Brewed Coffee, Black Tea, Green Tea, and Peppermint Tea. There are also iced options, too.

It’s worth noting that while many of the beverages seem to be vegan, McDonald’s, in general, still has a long way to go in terms of becoming a vegan-friendly chain.

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McDonald’s failure to offer vegan options

In the US especially, locations are notoriously lacking in vegan options. While a handful of countries, including the UK, are blessed with the vegan McPlant burger and vegan-friendly fries, Americans are stuck with only a Baked Apple Pie, a plain English muffin, Apple Slices, and a few drink options. 

In New Zealand, things aren’t much better. The chain launched the Salad Burger earlier this year, which is basically just a patty-less option of a traditional burger.

McDonald’s US did trial a McPlant in 600 restaurants back in 2022, but after weak sales, it wasn’t added to the permanent menu. Some speculated the failed trial was due to McPlant’s placement in rural locations, where demand for meat-free options is often much lower. 

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After all, Burger King has proven that meat-free burgers can perform well nationwide in the US; it has offered its Impossible Whopper on the permanent menu since 2019. And popular burger chain White Castle, which has 345 locations across 13 states, has offered the Impossible Slider since 2018.

But where McDonald’s falls, vegan fast-food chains are also swooping into cash in on demand. The meat-free appetite is rising in the US, and in 2022, research suggested that more than half of young Americans now describe themselves as flexitarian.

Earth Burger, Veggie Grill, Neat Burger, Mr. Charlie’s, Plant Power Fast Food, Slutty Vegan, Next Level Burger, and Monty’s Good Burger are just a few examples of growing fast-food chains offering an entirely vegan menu in the US. And you can find more delicious animal-free alternatives to McDonald’s here.

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