A couple of years ago, when other fast food chains started partnering with companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods on plant-based alternatives to beef, Taco Bell held back.
But now the Irvine-based fast food giant is making its move.
Taco Bell is testing an item called the Cravetarian Taco with a proprietary filling that’s a blend of peas and chickpeas. It was created by Taco Bell’s chefs to have the taste, look and texture of its ground beef filling.
The taco is available for $2.19 at one Southern California restaurant in Tustin through April 29, or while supplies last, according to a news release. The address is 14042 Red Hill Ave.
It is modeled on Taco Bell’s Crunchy Taco Supreme. In addition to the plant-based filling, it includes shredded cheddar cheese, reduced fat sour cream, lettuce and diced tomatoes in a crunchy corn shell. It contains 180 calories, 90 less than the Crunchy Taco Supreme.
It is not vegan. But like other fast food products like Del Taco’s Beyond Taco and Carl’s Jr.s’ Beyond Famous Star, both launched in 2019, it is intended to appeal to flexitarians, people who enjoy the taste of meat but want to cut down on consumption for health or ethical reasons.
Although it has not had a product like the Cravetarian Taco on its menu, Taco Bell has long been a go-to for vegetarians and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called it a secret vegan paradise because it is relatively easy to “veganize” its menu items. The chain made a commitment to expand its vegetarian options early in 2019. It has mostly done so with existing ingredients, but earlier this year it announced it is exploring a new plant-based protein with Beyond Meat.
The company is working with Beyond Meat to “create a new protein that is different from this test,” according to representatives, and it expects to test that product some time this year.
Taco Bell hasn’t announced a next step for the Cravetarian Taco beyond the test.
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