In 2006, Chef Mike Rypka bought a food trailer and a red Vespa and rode around Austin, Texas, passing out cheap, delicious tacos to attract people to his food trailer, Torchy’s Tacos. Now, Torchy’s has nearly 100 locations across 11 states and thousands of fans nationwide, but plant-based customers have found that its vegan options are limited. Hearing their concerns, the regional chain just debuted two new plant-based options on its permanent menu.

Torchy’s Taco has partnered with Beyond Meat to offer vegan tacos and Tex-Mex specialties to its customers nationwide. The new menu items include The MoFaux taco and the Grande Burrito Bowl, which can be made vegan when ordered without cheese, refried beans, and sour cream. The two new vegan options aim to appeal to vegan customers, but the fast-casual taco chain ensures that all its die-hard will enjoy them.

The MoFaux is the company’s first true plant-based menu item, containing Cowboy-Style Beyond Beef, grilled corn, green chiles, peppadew peppers, cilantro, and avocado. The vegan taco will also be served on a fresh corn tortilla and topped with the company’s signature Diablo sauce. The specialty Beyond Beef is flavored to match the palette of the taco chain’s Tex-Mex cuisine. The plant-based taco will be available at all locations beginning February 9.

“Torchy’s is all about innovating to ensure we’re delivering the tastiest and most unique offerings in the game, and these new menu items hit the mark by providing a little something for everyone, whether you’re plant-based, have a sweet tooth, or just love Damn Good tacos,” Rypka said. “Our culinary team has been hard at work perfecting these new items, and we can’t wait to see our fans’ reactions.”

While the plant-based menu remains short, Torchy’s new vegan protein will allow customers to customize their orders. The company revealed that the Cowboy-Style Beyond Beef will be available as a substitute for its Grande Burrito and Airstream Salad as well as the new Grande Burrito Bowl.

Torchy’s released The MoFaux taco nationwide following its successful trial run in Austin and Columbus, Ohio. Now, Torchy’s fans can find the new vegan taco in Indiana, Arkansas, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Virginia.

The plant-based taco will also support the fast-casual chain’s commitments to sustainability. Although the current menu offerings lean on meat and dairy, the company works to reduce its carbon footprint by only stocking napkins, cutlery, and cups made from 100 percent renewable resources. Torchy’s also donates all its excess cooking oil to companies that reuse it for biodiesel. Now, plant-based menu development will help the company reduce its environmental impact even more.

Plant-Based Fast Food Goes Vegan

Before the last few years, vegan food was limited mostly to home cooking and grocery shopping, but now restaurants are looking to wrap their arms around plant-based eating. Plant-based meat currently appears on the menu 1,320 percent more than at the beginning of the pandemic. Local restaurants have contributed to this shift in the foodservice industry, but the most significant change has been fast food's newfound interest in vegan options.

Vegan fast food is becoming extremely popular as people nationwide become more concerned with sustainability, sourcing, and health-related issues regarding meat and dairy production. The vegan fast food market is currently expected to reach $40 billion by 2028, signifying a drastic change in consumer behavior over the next decade. While Torchy's new vegan taco is a big deal to regional fans, fast food giants like McDonald's and Taco Bell have already paved the way, introducing new vegan menu items such as the McPlant and Taco Bell's new vegan protein.

Austin's Blooming Vegan Scene

There is no city quite like Austin. Buried in the heart of Texas, the state's capital is known for its lively music scene, Southern hospitality, and overall eccentricity that locals hope to preserve more than anything. So, it comes as no surprise that the electric city's food scene is just as inventive and exciting as the rest of the city.

Torchy's is just the latest of Austin's core food scene to adopt plant-based Tex-Mex, so check out The Beet's list of the best vegan and plant-based eats in Austin to see what restaurants paved the way for the beloved Austin-based chain.

The 6 Best Fast Food Chains With Plant-Based Options on the Menu

Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

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