Taco Bell is testing vegan meat at nearly 100 locations in the United States

For decades, Taco Bell dominated the fast food market in plant-based offerings when most establishments offered few or no vegan options. The international fast food giant continues its reign by diversifying its plant portfolio. Taco Bell just announced that it will begin testing its new vegan meat at 95 locations around the Detroit area after a successful trial in California.

The new “Boldly Seasoned Plant-Based Protein” will be available as a substitute at no additional cost on the Taco Bell menu. It will also be featured on the company’s Cravetarian menu – the specialty section for plant-based variations of classic Taco Bell menu items. Consumers will be able to order dishes like the Crunchy Taco Supreme, Burrito Supreme, Nachos BellGrander and Crunchwrap Supreme with the new vegetable protein.

The Detroit launch follows the company’s trial that took place in Tustin, Calif., last spring. The boldly seasoned vegetable protein has become available for all menu items as a replacement for conventional animal protein. The vegan meat was launched alongside the Cravetarian Taco — the plant-based version of the establishment’s signature Crunchy Taco Supreme — at a California venue. The veggie taco included lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and the new protein.

“Taco Bell has always been a go-to place for vegans and vegetarians, with plant-based dishes featuring prominently on our menu for years,” a Taco Bell spokesperson told VegNews. “We’ve long been committed to food for all, which means we’re working to ensure that more people, regardless of lifestyle, can enjoy the mouth-watering flavors of Taco Bell. That’s why we’re constantly innovating, listening to our fans, and analyzing the results of menu testing, in the plant space and beyond.

The fast food restaurant’s vegan and vegetarian options typically relied on bean or potato substitutes for the menu’s central protein. Until 2019, Taco Bell’s plant-based options weren’t the highlight of its menu. When competing chains such as Del Taco began introducing plant-based proteins, Taco Bell changed its menu to put plant-based alternatives in the spotlight.

To maximize its plant-based status, the company unveiled its Cravetararian menu and even partnered with Beyond Meat to develop another plant-based protein. Earlier this year, the company announced that it would be working with Beyond to develop a completely new-to-market plant-based protein. So far, the companies have yet to reveal anything else about the new plant protein. While consumers wait for the Beyond Meat collaboration, Taco Bell is developing its own substitutes.

Taco Bell unveiled another plant-based menu option this year at a single location in Irvine, California. The “naked chalupa with a plant-based crispy shell” featured the fast food restaurant’s signature chalupa, but was sourced entirely from Taco Bell’s exclusive vegan chicken. The new plant-based chicken arrived after months of development of Taco Bell’s test kitchen, using a proprietary blend of pea protein. Alongside the Cravetarian Taco, this test signifies Taco Bell’s energizing new dedication to plant-based foods.

“These single-store trials are a quick way for the brand to continue to push the boundaries of food innovation and get a sense of potential demand for a new menu item,” said Missy Schaaphok, senior manager. global nutrition and sustainability at Taco Bell. time. “Similar to our broader market tests, we are still listening to our fans to determine whether to expand the test.”

Along with the plant-based push, the fast-food company is also improving its sustainable practices. Taco Bell has just partnered with recycling company TerraCycle to launch a program to reduce its hot sauce waste program. The company revealed that nearly 8.2 billion single-use hot sauce packets end up in landfills each year, noting a need for change. The company is asking customers to help recycle these hot sauce packets without getting rid of the iconic Fire Sauce packets.

“As simple as it sounds, it’s important to remember to first reduce our consumption habits, then reuse products whenever possible, and then recycle them,” Schaaphok said. “We are thrilled that TerraCycle has provided us with a way to extend the life cycle of our signature sauce pouches as we re-evaluate the rest of our packaging suite.”

Taco Bell’s recent addition to plant-based protein joins a longstanding plant-based menu, giving consumers one more option outside of beans and potatoes. Taco Bell’s extensive plant-based menu can be found here along with all the substitution tips needed for a delicious and healthier fast food experience.

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