(Updated June 23, 2021) | Taco Bell makes eating vegan easy.
In April 2019, the multi-billion-dollar global company responded to public demand by launching a new vegetarian menu. The meatless items also provide plenty of opportunity for vegan indulgence. The Mexican-inspired fast food chain, which made the double-decker burrito a mainstream delicacy, aims to give the public what they really want. And it’s usually smothered in guacamole.
In 2020, Taco Bell’s new CEO, Mark King, told Bloomberg that vegan meat was in the works. “We definitely see that plant-based protein has a place on the menu,” he said. In early 2021, the chain revealed it had partnered with plant-based meat brand Beyond Meat to add vegan meat to its menu for the first time. Taco Bell picked the California-based food startup because of the brand’s reputation as a category leader, and also its appeal to younger consumers.
Taco Bell’s Plant-Based Options
Taco Bell took all things plant-based to the next level this year. In June 2021, the chain revealed it was testing a Naked Plant-Based Chalupa at one location in Irvine, California.
The meatless chicken shell features a pea protein-based proprietary blend that’s breaded and crisped to a golden perfection. The shell is packed with lettuce, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, and an avocado ranch sauce. The plant-based chalupa can be made vegan by omitting the cheese and sauce.
Tex-Mex cuisine is founded on the classic plant-based rice and beans combination. And the chain has always been popular with vegetarians and vegans.
Meat-free patrons can simply tweak the menu items, as per the instructions on Taco Bell’s website, which beckons “Customise your favorites. Order now.”
At present, all of Taco Bell’s vegetarian items contain cheese. Queso—which refers to any type of cheese, as well as the ooey gooey cheese-based dip—is, of course, a popular ingredient in many Mexican-American dishes. A study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2013 reported that the average American munches their way through 23 pounds of cheese each year.
For those ditching dairy, there are plenty of plant-based options available. But when it comes to Taco Bell ordering, simply ask for the cheese to be replaced with extra salsa or the king of vegan luxury: guac.
In March 2020, Taco Bell made ordering veggie even easier. The Mexican-inspired fast-food chain announced the launch of “Veggie Mode,” an easier way to order vegetarian meals at self-service kiosks.
Customers can access “Veggie Mode” at Taco Bell kiosks nationwide. The single-swipe feature transforms the menu to only display plant-based meal options.
And you’ve probably guessed by now, that the chain’s veggie options are quite extensive. Almost 50 of Taco Bell’s vegetarian items are certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA). “We’ve been doing vegetarian for a long time, but that is not enough for us. People should be given more options than one plant-based choice,” Missy Schaaphok, Taco Bell’s global nutrition and sustainability manager, said in a press release.
“With Veggie Mode, we are proud to make it even easier to order delicious plant-based options,” she added.
Just keep in mind, you might not be able to take advantage of the kiosks currently (because, you know, coronavirus pandemic).
How to Order Vegan at Taco Bell
The chain is not overly vegan-friendly when it comes to your morning meal, but customers can enjoy the following:
- Hash Browns, crispy and hot
- Iced Coffee, just add plant milk
- Rainforest alliance certified coffee either black or add plant milk
- Tropicana Orange juice for vitamin C boost
Starters and Sides
In 2020, Taco Bell cut potatoes from its menu in order to make room for new items. But vegan foodies, fret not! The chain will be launching spicy potatoes, a longtime staple of meat-free midnight Taco Bell runs, on March 11.
“The return of our beloved potatoes is just the first step in showing our fans the strong continued commitment to [vegetarianism] we are making this year,” Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s Global Chief Food Innovation Officer, said in a press release send to LIVEKINDLY.
As you (im)patiently await the return of the potato, you can feast on these starters and sides.
- Nacho chips
- Black beans and rice, for a complete protein
All of Taco Bell’s tortillas, taco shells, and flatbreads are certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association. So you just need to fill the casing of your choice with your favorite items.
You can easily make the below items vegan with a few simple customizations.
- Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme: Just ask for no sour cream and nacho cheese sauce
- Bean Burrito: Omit the cheese and add your favorite vegan add-ons.
- Power Menu Bowl (Veggie): Crammed with black beans, rice, guacamole, and romaine lettuce. Add jalapenos if you like added heat. And don’t forget to get it without cheese, sour cream, and avocado ranch sauce.
- Crunchy Taco or Soft Taco: Ask for no cheese and swap the seasoned beef with refried or black beans.
- Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito: Order it without the nacho cheese sauce and creamy jalapeno sauce.
What’s a meal without dessert? Order one—or two—servings of the chain’s Cinnamon Twists to round out your meal.
Diablo sauce packet
Fire sauce packet
Hot sauce packet
Mild sauce packet