Taco Bell states today that, after “years of testing and tasting”, the chef team behind its Taco Bell Test Kitchen has finally developed its first fully vegan menu item — the Vegan Crunchwrap — featuring proprietary plant-based beef and cheese.
The new menu item will initially trial from tomorrow in LA, New York, and Orlando, since these are “cities with notable vegan populations” and will cater to the brand’s loyal veggie customer base, with its vegetarian options making up over 23% of products sold in 2022.
The Vegan Crunchwrap will be offered at price parity to the signature offering during the test trial, with the chain commenting: “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 says it will be trialing this innovation to gauge customer feedback and inform future menu developments, and it can be assumed the product will roll out nationally should the trial be deemed a success.
Proprietary vegan beef
In the fall of last year, the Yum Brands chain tested its much-hyped collaboration with Beyond Meat, the Beyond Carne Asada Steak, at 50 locations in the Dayton, Ohio area. However, no further news of the Beyond collaboration was to follow, and the item does not appear to be present on its current menus. And in the UK, back in 2021, the chain announced a meat alternative made with Gold & Green’s Pulled Oats, though again this did not appear to stick as a permanent offering.
So what is the beef in the Vegan Crunchwrap made of? Taco Bell’s statement describes it as a “proprietary, boldly seasoned plant-based protein that has been in the works for years. It’s topped with cool vegan blanco sauce and warm vegan nacho sauce, which have also long been in development to refine proprietary flavors.”
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 containing no animal ingredients. It’s important to note, however, that in 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 in common and cross-contact may occur.”
We wanted to get it exactly right
“Such a large part of our fandom is vegan or vegetarian, and we’re as committed to them as they are to us and our menu,” said Liz Matthews, Global Chief Food Innovation Officer at Taco Bell. “That’s why we took so long, months and years, to release something this special; we wanted and needed to get it exactly right, to get it mouth-watering. Because let’s admit it, we’ve all eaten plenty of products on today’s market that don’t taste great and certainly aren’t craveable.”
“Our fans are always hacking our customizable menu to try new options, especially veggie-forward,” said Missy Schaaphok, Director of Global Nutrition and Sustainability at Taco Bell. “So now we’re hacking the hack, if you will, with a product that’s completely vegan as-is, right off the menu. I may be biased, but no veggie burger could compare.”
The Vegan Crunchwrap is available at participating Taco Bell locations for a limited time only, including Los Angeles (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).plant-based beyond meat meat alternative meat beef cheese burger protein alternative