Taco Bell’s long been a bastion for vegetarians at the drive-in. In a fast-food landscape where vegetarians often settle for plain biscuits and wilted salads, Taco Bell really allows people to live, um, más. The menu is infinitely customizable, allowing people to sub beans or potatoes in for meat on pretty much everything. They’ve got a function on their app called “Make it Meatless” that makes all the meat options disappear as if a vegetarian version of Thanos snapped his finger. And they’ve got a “fresco” menu that’s basically vegan without using the word. In fact, there are 13 items on the menu that are certified by the American Vegetarian Association, with 38 certified vegan and vegetarian items in the mix.
So yeah, T-Bell is a friend of junk-food vegetarians. But it hasn't until now gone all-in on offering a straight-up vegetarian menu, instead forcing customers to customize their orders or -- gasp! -- read the ingredients. No more! This week, the chain launched a new vegetarian menu nationwide after testing it earlier this year in meat-horny Dallas. And we got a taste.
Waaaaaay back in April, Taco Bell hosted a panel at its HQ in Irvine, California, where nutritionists and food-innovation officials unveiled the menu, which puts a spotlight on an old favorite while introducing two new vegetarian options: the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme and the Black Bean Quesarito. According to the T-Bell brass, this is just the next step in the chain’s efforts to cater to plant-based eaters and flexitarians alike. And while they were a bit evasive when asked whether they’d be following in the footsteps of major burger chains by implementing Impossible or Beyond meat-substitutes for Fourthmeal -- or whether cashew-based nacho cheese might be the next frontier -- they trumpeted the Tex-Mex chain’s changing dynamic from late-night stoner food to unlikely trailblazer in the vegetarian market.
Here’s a rundown of the Taco Bell vegetarian menu now available nationwide. For the record, it includes the Bean Burrito, but we didn't bother to write that one up, since, you know, it's just the Bean Burrito.