IRVINE, Calif.—Taco Bell is testing a new vegan plant-based protein option in Birmingham, Alabama, inspired by “classic Taco Bell flavors.”
The faux meat is a proprietary blend of soy and pea protein and will be available in the Crispy Melt Taco and Nachos BellGrande, and it can be added to any menu item customers want to customize. The protein is certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association.
This pilot test is Taco Bell’s third try at a proprietary meat option since parent company Yum! Brands announced a partnership with Beyond Meat in 2021, reports CNBC. The fast-food chain said that the Beyond Meat product partnership will be available before the end of 2022.
Last year, Taco Bell tested a “Cravetarian” plant-based protein, made from peas and chickpeas, and the Naked Chalupa with a crispy plant-based shell made from pea protein. A representative for Taco Bell told CNBC that the new meat alternative is an improved version of the one tested in the Cravetarian taco.
Taco Bell, long embraced by vegetarians, has taken its time to jump on the faux-meat trend, and before last year, the fast-food chain said it would focus on meat replacement options, such as potatoes and beans. However, CNBC reports that Taco Bell removed a few menu items, angering its vegetarian customers, which led the chain to bring the items back and invest in plant-based options.
The Crispy Melt Taco features a fried white corn shell tortilla, a blend of shredded cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey pepper jack cheeses, warm nacho cheese sauce and the new soy and pea protein blend. The taco sells for $2.49.
NACS Magazine explored the trend in “Plant-Based Food Takes Root.”