Taco Bell announced this week that they are trialing a new plant-based protein at 50 of their locations in Alabama.
As soon as we learned this, Ryan and I made plans to drive from Georgia to Alabama to try it. And let me tell you, we are SO glad we did!
First let me answer a few questions you might have.
Is Taco Bells Plant-Based Protein Vegan?
Yes! Taco Bell has certified their plant-based protein as vegan. I even have the ingredients list but promised the Taco Bell worker that I will not share it just in case it isn’t supposed to be out there just yet.
What I can tell you, which has already been made public, is that it is a soy/pea protein combo. This is true. But it appears to be more soy than pea protein.
Is This Just a Test/Trial or Is It Permanent?
This is a test/trial and only in 50 locations around the Birmingham, Alabama area. We were there today (August 19, 2022) and were told, from their understanding, it’s only going to be available for the next 3-4 weeks.
Do not quote me or the employee on this… it seemed like a guess.
From what we have read, Taco Bell is still planning to do a Beyond Meat test by the end of 2022. Keep reading, I’ll tell you what I think about that below.
How Much Does the Plant-Based Protein Cost?
There are a couple of things that make Taco Bell’s vegan meat brilliant and this is one of them. If you are ordering a menu item that automatically comes with animal beef, you can sub the plant-based protein for zero dollars ($.00)
Did you read that correctly?
Now, if you plan to add the new vegan protein to a vegetarian/vegan item, our location charged an extra 80 cents ($.80). Ryan did this with one of his orders.
Is The Crispy Melt Taco Vegan?
With the test/trial of this plant-based beef, Taco Bell has given two options you could try it on; a Crispy Melt Taco and Nachos BellGrande.
The Crispy Melt Taco is NOT vegan as-is. In fact, it is very dairy heavy. It comes with a white corn shell, nacho cheese sauce, 3 cheese blend of shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and tomato.
How to Make It Vegan: Order a Crispy Melt Taco; Fresco Style (or say, NO nacho cheese sauce, 3 cheese blend or sour cream) and SUB the animal beef with plant-based protein.
The Nachos BellGrande are NOT vegan as-is either. They come with nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, beans, tomatoes, and animal beef.
How to Make It Vegan: Order a Nachos BellGrande; Fresco Style (or say, NO nacho cheese sauce or sour cream) and SUB the animal beef for plant-based protein.
We ordered ours with guacamole ADDED.
What Can I Order with the Plant-Based Protein?
You can order almost anything!
While driving to Alabama, we put together our thoughts on what to order. Ryan was initially thinking of menu items we already get and wanted to add the plant-based beef to them.
I said, “no… you are thinking too small! We can order just about anything and SUB the animal product with plants!”
This opened us up to a lot more options.
What Did We Order?
We came up with 4 items we wanted to try with the plant-based protein; a Chalupa, Nachos BellGrande, Crunchy Taco, and a Bean Burrito with added plant-based protein.
A modified Black Bean Chalupa has been my go-to this year (prior to that, I was a bean burrito gal). When I tell you that the first bite of my chalupa with plant-based meat was different, I mean that on a much more delicious level.
With the black bean chalupa, by the time I order it fresco style, it is dry. All it has on it is black beans, tomato and lettuce. I HAVE TO USE the sauces.
This Plant-Based Protein that Taco Bell is trialing is juicy and full of flavor. I completely forgot I even had sauces I could use. Did not need them.
The taste is in the plant-based beef!
How To Order It Vegan: Order a Chalupa Supreme; Fresco Style (or say, NO cheese or sour cream) and SUB the animal beef for plant-based protein.
So much nostalgia for me. It’s been over 15 years since I’ve ordered a Nachos BellGrande.
In fact, it was the smaller version, a Nachos Supreme, that I used to get. It’s also been a while since I’ve had a good plate of nachos with all the toppings so maybe that had a little to do with it (we also added guacamole–the Nachos BellGrande do not come with guac automatically added).
We both agreed that we would be more than happy to order this again.
How To Make It Vegan: As we mentioned above, order a Nachos BellGrande; Fresco Style or say, NO nacho cheese sauce or sour cream) and SUB the animal beef for plant-based protein.
A taco is a taco is a taco… but not with this plant protein. It was legit good. Like a Taco Bell Crunchy Taco good… whatever that means for you. 😉
How To Make it Vegan: Order a Crunchy Taco; Fresco Style (or say, NO cheese)
This was Ryan’s order. He still wanted to try his favorite and ADD the plant-based meat. His normal is to order a Bean Burrito Fresco Style with Rice and/or Potatoes.
I should have recorded his face when he took that first bite. He said it took him back to the days of eating Taco Bell’s Chili Cheese Burritos. But also mentioned that the next time (we hope there will be next time), he will add the plant-based meat AND potatoes.
How To Order It Vegan: Order a Bean Burrito; Fresco Style (or say, NO cheese) and ADD the plant-based protein.
This is just the opinion of two vegans (who do visit Taco Bell more than any other chain restaurant)… We would prefer Taco Bell to stop trying different recipes and ADD THIS ONE TO EVERY LOCATION.
I stopped eating meat in 2008 and somehow was very aware that this tasted exactly like its animal counterpart. Sincerely did not realize how much nostalgia we would have after taking that first bite and every bite after.
But it sounds like it’s going to be a quick trial so we hope you can make it to Alabama to show your support and try it out! We used a local Alabama article to find the location closest to us.
If you would like to see all of Taco Bell’s Vegan Options, we have a guide that makes ordering simple and straightforward.