Recently, Taco Bell removed their potatoes from their menu nationwide and broke the hearts of many vegans across the country. Now they have announced the return of their Nacho Fries (for a Limited Time).
This, of course, begs the question, “Are Nacho Fries Vegan?”
Let’s address the more obvious answer first. The Nacho Cheese dipping sauce that accompanies the fries are decidedly not vegan. Per Taco Bell’s website the ingredients for the Nacho Cheese sauce are:
Nacho Cheese Sauce: Nonfat milk, cheese whey, water, vegetable oil (canola oil, soybean oil), modified food starch, maltodextrin, natural flavors, salt, dipotassium phosphate, jalapeno puree, vinegar, lactic acid, cellulose gum, potassium citrate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, citric acid, annatto and oleoresin paprika (VC). Contains: Milk [certified vegetarian]
What about the fries though? If you forego the dipping sauce, are the fries themselves vegan?
Let’s take a look at the ingredients:
Seasoned Fries: Fries: Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola, soybean, sunflower, palm and/or cottonseed), enriched flour contains 2% or less of: cornstarch, salt, sugar, rice flour, leavening, modified corn and food starch, dextrin, dextrose, cellulose gum, guar gum, disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (maintains color). Prepared in canola oil. Seasoning: Maltodextrin, garlic, paprika, sugar, onion, salt, paprika extract (VC), citric acid, disodium guanylate & inosinate, spices, aged cayenne red peppers, vinegar, natural flavors. Contains: Wheat.
After looking at the ingredients (of which there are A LOT just for some fries), it appears that, yes, the Nacho Fries at Taco Bell are vegan-friendly.
The only two issues would be potential cross-contamination from shared fryers and those always annoyingly frustrating “natural flavors”.
Taco Bell takes their vegetarian certification on their menu items pretty seriously. Considering they label Nacho Fries on their menu as being certified vegetarian, combined with no allergens listed on the fries, that tells us that the ‘natural flavors’ in the fries are not animal-derived.
Finally, let’s tackle the cross-contamination issue. Here is Taco Bell’s official statement on cross-contamination when it comes to their certified vegetarian items:
American Vegetarian Association certified Vegetarian food items, are lacto-ovo, allowing consumption of dairy and eggs but not animal byproducts. We may use the same frying oil to prepare menu items that could contain meat. Vegetarian and meat ingredients are handled in common, and cross contact may occur, which may not be acceptable to certain types of vegetarian diets. Neither Taco Bell®, our employees, nor our franchisees nor the AVA assume any responsibility for such cross contact.
Cross-Contamination is always going to be a concern at most fast food locations. We list items on many of our Cheat Sheet Guides with notations of cross-contamination. If you’re willing to eat out at fast food locations, you’re pretty aware that issues like this are going to exist.
When it comes to Taco Bell, though, we can’t help but wonder – what other non-vegan items are being fried?
Other than a fried chicken shell that Taco Bell served for a little while (which from what we can tell is no longer available) there are no other meat products from what we can tell that would be fried at Taco Bell.
With all that being said, the Nacho Fries at Taco Bell do appear to be vegan! So if you like to indulge in some “not-so-healthy” vegan fast food from time to time, go ahead and grab you some Nacho Fries! Just have them hold the cheese sauce.
As a final note, they’re pretty good. I can honestly see why the cheese sauce would put them over the top, but I still enjoyed them.
If you’d like to see all the vegan options at Taco Bell, check out our Taco Bell Vegan Options Guide