By Joseph Farago | published
Taco Bell was the only fast food chain with a vegetarian alternative for a long time. Since the restaurant has many menu items with beans as protein, it was a fast food option for many who wanted a strictly vegetarian meal. As meat alternatives have become more popular, Taco Bell has not had to use them as often as competitors like Burger King and McDonald’s. But now the Mexican-American fast food company wants to broaden its horizons.
While Taco Bell was adamant about being without meat alternatives, the company started testing plant-based ground beef a few years ago. It was introduced at a single location in California in a menu item called the Cravetarian Taco. In June of this year, another location in California tested a unique product: the Naked Chalupa with a crispy vegetable skin. The chalupa bowl was a fried chicken substitute that Taco Bell was eager to introduce.
Today Taco Bell is testing an updated version of the Cravetarian Taco in the Birmingham, Alabama area. The taco will contain a plant-based protein made in-house and will taste like an upgraded version of the previously used meatless substitute. Both the Crispy Melt Taco and the Nachos BellGrande will have the updated replacement for Alabama residents to enjoy. The meatless alternative is a soy and pea-based blend, which is slightly different from the previous proprietary pea and chickpea concoction. The spices used on the substitute combine “classic Taco Bell flavors” so the flavor of the product won’t differ too far from standard ground beef.
The Crispy Melt Taco unveiled in Birmingham is a brand new menu item. The taco has a friend’s corn tortilla filled with oozy, melty cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey pepperjack. The taco is then piled high with Taco Bell’s nacho cheese sauce. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and sour cream. If you’re not feeling adventurous enough to try the new meatless alternative, you can also order the Crispy Melt Taco with plain ground beef. Both tacos, both meat and vegetarian options, cost $2.49 each.
For the Birmingham, Alabama locations that are testing the in-house substitute, you can add the meatless option to any item on the menu. Unfortunately, only a few stores have the replacement available, so be sure to check in with the location before visiting. If the meatless option is good enough, Taco Bell may have reason to cancel its ongoing partnership with Beyond Meat.
It’s not uncommon for Taco Bell to put an unusual item on the menu. Recently, the fast food chain released an inexpensive flatbread option, which is identical to a regular pizza slice. With the return of Taco Bell’s viral Mexican Pizza, the company apparently wanted to expand its Italian cuisine. The Cheesy Chipotle Chicken Flatbread comes with creamy Chipotle sauce, fried tortilla strips, onion, cheese, and all-white meat chicken.
Taco Bell is increasingly making its restaurants superior fast food options for vegetarians and vegans. Testing its own meat substitutes, there could soon be plant-based options nationwide on all Taco Bell menus.
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