Taco Bell has fed hungry plant-based customers for decades with its Black Bean Crunch Wraps and Rice & Bean Burritos. But now, Taco Bell plans to pass the torch from its longstanding meatless options to new vegan meat designed to elevate its plant-based menu. With the help of Beyond Meat, Taco Bell just revealed its first-of-its-kind Beyond Carne Asada Steak made exclusively with plant-based ingredients launching next month.

For about a year, Taco Bell and Beyond Meat have been working closely on a "groundbreaking" vegan meat product. Despite rumors of a stalled collaboration, Taco Bell's signature Beyond Meat plant-based steak will arrive at select locations around Dayton, Ohio on October 13. The trial run will occur until supplies run out.

“At Taco Bell, we’ve long believed that anyone should be able to choose plant-based menu items without compromising the flavors they crave,” Liz Matthews, Taco Bell's Global Chief Food Innovation Officer, said. “That’s why we at Taco Bell are thrilled to reveal the result of our long-standing partnership with Beyond Meat, which is previously unseen in the QSR industry. This plant-based carne asada steak is just the latest move in our history of crafting some of the most unique, craveworthy offerings for all fans.”

The Beyond Carne Asada Steak blends together Beyond's plant-based protein and Taco Bell's signature seasoning to create a meatless option that caters to all customers made from vital wheat gluten and faba bean protein. Since 2021, the Taco Bell Test Kitchen has worked with Beyond's culinary teams to develop cutting-edge plant-based protein.

At first, the new protein will be featured in a quesadilla priced the same as the traditional quesadilla. Customers can also add or substitute the protein to any menu item on the menu. Aiming to provide an affordable plant-based option for its customers, Taco Bell will not add an upcharge to the plant-based Carne Asada.

“We know that consumers are looking for diverse protein options that are better for the planet without compromising on taste, so we’re incredibly excited to launch our brand-new, innovative Beyond Carne Asada Steak,” Dariush Ajami, Beyond Meat’s Chief Innovation Officer, said. “Designed to specifically complement the bold, savory flavors that Taco Bell is known for, Beyond Carne Asada Steak delivers the flavorful, delicious taste and texture of marinated, grilled steak with the added benefits of plant-based meat.”

Taco Bell’s Innovative Vegan Meat

This August, Taco Bell's culinary development teams cooked up another plant-based protein for customers. The fast-food giant rolled out its proprietary “real seasoned plant-based protein” at 50 additional stores in the Birmingham Alabama area. Customers can order vegan beef for their burritos, tacos, nachos, and more. The proprietary protein alternative is flavored to taste just like its conventional beef. using a blend of soy and pea proteins. The test period will last until mid-October.

Taco Bell previously released the “real seasoned plant-based protein����� last April in Tustin, California. Soon after, the proprietary protein launched at 95 Detroit-area locations. These tests coincide with the chain's vegan chicken trials as well. Last June, the company tested a vegan chicken chalupa shell – The Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell – at one location in Irvine, California.

A New World of Vegan Fast Food

Over 12 percent of Taco Bell's sales were attributed to its vegetarian options, according to the chain, and this trend is true across the entire market. Tapping into the fast-food industry, Beyond Meat is helping improve the menus of several chains worldwide. Recently, KFC debuted the Beyond Chicken Tenders at over 4,000 locations nationwide.

Estimates project that the vegan fast food market will reach $40 billion by 2028. Despite being primarily driven by major fast food chains, smaller businesses have entered the competition. California-based vegan fast-food brands Plant Power Fast Food and Noomo have recently partnered with franchising companies to accelerate their expansion efforts.

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