Taco Bell said today that, after “years of testing and tasting,” the chef team behind its Taco Bell Test Kitchen has finally created its first fully vegan menu item — the Vegan Crunchwrap — featuring proprietary plant-based beef and cheese.
The new menu item will initially be trialled starting tomorrow in LA, New York and Orlando, as these are “cities with significant vegan populations” and will cater to the brand’s loyal veggie customer base, with vegetarian options making up more than 23% of product sales in 2022.
The vegan CrunchWrap will be offered at the same price as the signature offering during the test trial, the chain commented: “Access to delicious, affordable vegan and vegetarian options has long been important to Taco Bell”, adding that CrunchWrap prices always vary by local market.
Taco Bell said the innovation will be tested to gauge customer response and inform future menu developments, and it can be assumed that the product will be rolled out nationally if the trial is deemed successful.
Proprietary Vegan Beef
Late last year, the Yum Brands chain tested its much-touted collaboration with Beyond Meat, Beyond Carne Asada Steak at 50 locations in the Dayton, Ohio area. However, no further news of the Beyond collaboration followed, and the item does not appear to appear on its current menu. And in the UK, in 2021, the chain announced a meat alternative made with Gold & Green’s pulled oats, though it doesn’t appear to have stuck as a permanent offering again.
So what is the beef in vegan crunchware made of? Taco Bell’s statement describes it as a “proprietary, boldly seasoned plant-based protein that’s been in the works for years. It’s topped with cool vegan blanco sauce and warm vegan nacho sauce, long in development to refine the proprietary flavor.” “
Taco Bell notes that all ingredients are certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association, though it cannot guarantee that cross-contamination will not occur: “Taco Bell defines “vegan” as having no animal ingredients.” It’s important to note, however, that some restaurants We use the same frying oil to prepare menu items that may or may not contain animal ingredients. Vegan and animal ingredients are handled normally and cross-contamination can occur.”
We wanted to get it right
“Such a large portion of our fans are vegan or vegetarian, and we’re as committed to them as they are to us and our menu,” says Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s Global Chief Food Innovation Officer. “That’s why we’ve taken so long, months and years, to release something this special; We wanted and had to get it right, to make it mouth-watering. Because let’s face it, we’ve all eaten a lot of products on the market today that don’t taste very good and certainly aren’t desirable.”
“Our fans are always hacking our customizable menu to try new options, especially the veggie-forward ones,” says Missy Shapehouse, Taco Bell’s director of global nutrition and sustainability. “So now we’re hacking the hack, if you will, with a product that’s completely vegetarian, off the menu. I may be biased, but nothing compares to a veggie burger.”
The Vegan Crunchwrap is available for a limited time only at participating Taco Bell locations, incl the fairies (6741 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028), New York City (976 6th Ave, New York, NY 10018), and Orlando (11893 East Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32826).