Here's what it's like to eat at McDonald's in a city that bans beef

McDonald'sErin Fuchs/Business InsiderThe only thing I ordered that appealed to me at the Mumbai McDonald’s was a french fry.

I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s. A nearly lifelong vegetarian, I try to eat healthful food whenever I can. Even when I was a little kid and still ate meat, I rarely got to visit the Golden Arches and enjoy a Happy Meal.

While my colleagues and friends sometimes “treat” themselves to an Egg McMuffin breakfast or a Big Mac after a long day at work, I can honestly say I never have any desire to go there.

There is one exception. As a junior in college, I spent a year studying in Vienna and discovered I actually enjoyed the Austrian McDonald’s. I went there all the time, drawn in by the allure of food that was both comforting and familiar and an intriguing variation of the kind of McDonald’s available back home.

I could get plain vanilla soft serve and Gemüse (German for vegetable) nuggets, which were an Austrian version of chicken nuggets — only they were vegetarian. During that one year in my life, I became a loyal McDonald’s patron.

In the decade that followed, I would go to McDonald’s only once, to get my McDonald’s-loving roommate a Big Mac and some fries after his dog died. Recently, though, I went back to Mickey D’s again — again, in a foreign country. Intrigued by the notion of a US fast-food chain that might have some slight variations, I stopped by a Mumbai McDonald’s while on my honeymoon in India.

I was particularly drawn to the McDonald’s because I knew that, last year, the state that includes Mumbai became the latest in the country to ban the sale of beef. The city’s McDonald’s was sure to be non-traditional.

The McDonald's was off a hectic shopping area for pedestrians.

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You can see the sign for McDonald's in the distance. We turned to the right and went upstairs to get in.

Ronald McDonald beckons us inside. He looks the same in India.

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Right away, I'm presented with Mumbai's answer to the Big Mac: the Maharaja Mac, which it calls 'The Social Burger.'

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There's also something there called a 'Pizza McPuff.'

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But I decide to go with the signature sandwich, which comes in chicken and corn/cheese. I go with the latter since I'm a vegetarian.

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The massive burger is nearly the size of my head.

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I regret my choice. The corn and cheese combo don't sit well, especially after a nauseating day of Mumbai traffic.

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I leave most of my meal untouched ...

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And decide to skip dessert, even though it looks appealing. I've never seen cheesecake in a US McDonald's.

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While I'm tempted to linger and sample desserts, I decide to head out and see what else the city has to offer.

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For the rest of my trip, I stick with traditional Indian food -- like this papdi chaat I from a street vendor. It's India's answer to nachos, and I eat it up.

Erin Fuchs/Business Insider

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