Taco Bell Trials Meatless ‘Cravetarian’ Protein In Latest Plant-Based Push

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Fast food giant Taco Bell is testing a brand new meatless protein dubbed the “Cravetarian”. Made from chickpeas and peas, the new vegetarian-friendly taco is topped with sour cream and cheese, which can be swapped out to cater to vegan folk. The move comes shortly after the QSR chain announced a partnership with Beyond Meat to test more plant-based options on its menu. 

Taco Bell is taking its new plant-based protein for a test drive, launching a “Cravetarian” Taco in one location in Tustin, California in the U.S.  this month. The meatless protein is made from a blend of chickpeas and peas, and comes with shredded cheese, lettuce, sour cream and diced tomatoes. Because the protein itself contains no dairy or egg, vegan diners can ditch sour cream and cheese to make the dish 100% plant-based.

Customers can also make other menu items such as burritos and chalupas vegan or vegetarian by choosing to swap out animal-based protein for the new plant-based protein developed by Taco Bell. 

Speaking to Business Insider about the new product its trialling, a spokesperson for the company said: “The term ‘Cravetarian’ is inspired by all of Taco Bell’s craveable options and it emphasises how no one should have to sacrifice bold flavours for their lifestyle.” 

Cravetarian Taco. (Source: Taco Bell)

The term ‘Cravetarian’ is inspired by all of Taco Bell’s craveable options and it emphasises how no one should have to sacrifice bold flavours for their lifestyle.

Taco Bell

“By testing and offering a wide breadth of meatless options, Taco Bell doubles down on its pledge to bring more innovation to the vegetarian space,” the chain added. 

The move comes shortly after the firm revealed in January a partnership with food tech giant Beyond Meat to “explore a new plant-based protein” across its U.S. locations. It marked the first plant-based initiative within the QSR chain’s American operations, with its Yum China-owned franchise in mainland China already having rolled out meatless menu options with Beyond Meat in 2020, and OmniPork in 2019

These upcoming plant-based meat offerings will add to Taco Bell’s existing vegetarian and vegan range, which includes the option for diners to swap out any meat ingredients for potato bites or black beans.

Potato Soft Taco. (Source: Taco Bell)

By testing and offering a wide breadth of meatless options, Taco Bell doubles down on its pledge to bring more innovation to the vegetarian space.

Taco Bell

In February, Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands, which also owns Pizza Hut and KFC, further doubled down on plant-based, entering into a global deal with Beyond Meat. The collaboration is set to bring new vegan and vegetarian “co-creations” across the chain’s menus in the U.S. and in international markets, though no further details were disclosed at the time. 

Yum! Brands said in a statement that the partnership will boost its long-term strategy to cater to the “evolving tastes of the consumers of today and tomorrow”, especially as mainstream consumers show no signs of slowing down in their rising preference for plant-based meals. 

Retail figures in the U.S. alone show that plant-based sales have surpassed US$7 billion in 2020, growing at twice the rate of animal-based categories. These growth figures are likely to be sustained in the future, given trend data indicating upwards of 40% of all global consumers now consider themselves flexitarians or part-time vegans. 

At the time of the February announcement, Yum! Brands CFO Chris Turner said: “We’re excited about the long-term potential plant-based protein menu items have to attract more customers to our brands, especially younger consumers.” 

Turner added that its plant-forward strategy seeks to “strengthen our brands’ capability to offer delicious, plant-based menu items that are driven by consumer demand for more diverse protein options and our brands’ strategies in local markets.” 


Lead image courtesy of Taco Bell.


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