Taco Bell Is Testing a New Plant-Based Protein in 'Cravetarian Taco'
Taco Bell has had an odd relationship with the plant-based meat explosion. The chain has long touted itself as a fast food leader in vegetarian choices, thanks in large part to their bean options. So back in 2019, when every quick-service brand seemed to be testing out plant-based meats, Taco Bell essentially said, Nah, we're good. But the plant-based meat buzz refused to die, so Taco Bell quickly reversed course, and by early 2020, they had met with industry leaders like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Adding to the confusion, all the while, Taco Bell was adding plant-based options in Europe.
But back here in the U.S., the wait is finally over. Taco Bell has announced today they are publically testing "a proprietary, all-new boldly seasoned plant-based protein" at a single location in California. And if you're able to get to Tustin before April 29 (or before supplies run out), you can try the new Cravetarian Taco.
Created by "the masterminds at the Taco Bell Test Kitchen," Taco Bell says the new fake meat—which at least visually resembles their classic ground beef—is made from a blend of peas and chickpeas and is American Vegetarian Association-certified vegan. The Cravetarian Taco is then assembled like a Crunchy Taco Supreme with shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes, and reduced-fat sour cream in a crunchy corn shell. And at 180, the final product is ten calories less than your usual Crunchy Taco Supreme.
But as with most Taco Bell's ingredients, the story doesn't stop there: "Guests can also add or swap the plant-based protein in their favorites from chalupas to burritos and everything in between," all at no extra cost, Taco Bell explains. And since the protein is vegan, "fans who are vegan or those who want to try more plant-based foods can customize almost every Taco Bell menu item to be vegan."
If you happen to find your way to 14042 Red Hill Ave. in Tustin, California, expect a Cravetarian Taco to set you back $2.19. Taco Bell says that if the meat goes over well, they'll decide whether it's worth rolling out to other locations.
However, that's not all: In the announcement, Taco Bell also snuck in a mention about another vegetarian offering in the works as part of a separate partnership with Beyond Meat. "In the next year, the brand is excited to team up with Beyond Meat to create a new innovative plant-based protein to appeal to an even broader audience of consumers," the company added. A spokesperson clarified to me that this will be a completely separate protein option from the one used in the Cravetarian Taco that will also need to be tested before a possible larger rollout. It's almost like Taco Bell feels like they have some catching up to do!