5 Essential Vegan Products Taco Bell Should Add To Its Menu
Before, when there were no vegan options in drive-thru menus, Taco Bell stood out for its easy vegan hacks and reliable value. Just whisper “Make it Fresco” into the microphone box and you get a decent bean burrito filled with potatoes, salad and pico de gallo, or a vegan-friendly Blackbean Crunchwrap Supreme. The vegan fresco secret password still works, but the chain recently removed the potatoes from the menu, leaving their plant-based customers craving for substance. It remains to be decided whether to introduce vegan meat, and as rivals like Del Taco and El Pollo Loco step up their vegan game, Taco Bell is now falling behind. Here are five key points Taco Bell should add to its menu in order to compete for our vegan dollars.
1. Vegan meat
We don’t usually attribute “everyone is doing” peer pressure, but when it comes to adopting vegan options, the pressure is on. It has become the expected norm for fast food restaurants to have vegan meat – from Del Taco’s Beyond Meat Crumbles to El Pollo Loco’s own branded Chickenless Pollo. The standards have been set and there are clear, successful examples to follow. Whether you’re partnering with a vegan meat company like Beyond Meat or creating your own recipe, it’s time to improve it.
2. Vegan-as-is articles
We know the hash browns and cinnamon rolls are vegan, but we’d love to be able to roll through to drive through, order a taco or burrito and not worry about changes – and whether those changes are taken into account. There’s always a small risk of forgetting to say “no creamy jalapeno sauce please” or, worse, ordering it right, but finding out too late that your bean burrito still contains sour cream (mistakes happen in the kitchen). Adding an already vegan taco or burrito to the menu would provide Taco Bell plant-based customers with a safe and reliable option that would surely compel them to come back to learn more.
3. Vegan cheese sauce
The addition of a vegan queso or sour cream would accelerate Taco Bell’s popularity in the vegan crowd. While Del Taco, El Pollo Loco, and even Chipotle offer vegan meat, none of these fast food chains have introduced a dairy-free alternative. Regardless of whether Taco Bell develops a recipe in-house or works with one of the many vegan cheese companies (such as Follow Your Heart, Parmela, Good Planet or So Delicious), a firm vegan cheese makes us scream “Yo quiero Taco Bell” once.
Give us back our livelihood! Even with the hypothetical addition of vegan meat, potatoes offer that high-carb, starchy goodness that serves as the cornerstone of the usual fast food cravings. Potatoes are an accessible and affordable commodity product and are sorely missed. Taco Bell, do you remember what a bust it was adding butter to your rice? The ban on potatoes has faced similar setbacks. Admit the mistake, put the potatoes back on the menu, and we’ll all shake hands and get along.
5. An epic vegan burrito
We judge a Mexican place by the quality and size of its burrito. Del Taco has its plant-based Epic Beyond Original Mex Burrito – a filling vegan handle filled with Beyond Meat crumbles, rice, beans, pico de gallo, and guac – and Taco Bell’s grumpy bean burrito (now without potatoes) for comparison faded. If the Taco Bell menu features a hearty burrito made with vegan meat, rice or potatoes, guacamole, beans, salsa, and maybe even vegan cheese, it could dominate the Mexican fast food market.
Tanya Flink is a digital editor at VegNews as well as a writer and runner who lives in Orange County, CA.