Taco Bell is removing some vegetarian menu items. Here’s why you shouldn’t panic.
The favorite fast food joint of herbivores is making some changes, but they’re not necessarily bad.
By Dylan Matthews, Vox
Jul 23, 2020
Taco Bell is known for many things: turning Doritos into taco shells, “diablo” sauce, Gidget the spokes-chihuahua. But its greatest achievement, in my humble opinion? Being the friendliest major fast food restaurant for vegetarians and vegans.
It’s an achievement that the chain is very proud of and touts vigorously to plant-eating audiences. But a new change to the menu, which is removing several of the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly options at the Bell, has prompted concern among grassroots Taco Bell aficionados.
Among the items being removed are the 7-Layer Burrito, Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, Chips and Dips, and Cheesy Potato Grillers — all of which are vegetarian, if certainly not vegan. Spicy Tostadas, which are easily made veggie, are gone too, and the Quesarito (exactly what it sounds like: a burrito with a lot of cheese) will only be able for order online or through apps.
In a statement, the restaurant explained that the menu simplification was designed to create room for future, novel menu items, and to “ensure an easy and fast ordering experience for our guests and team members.” It’s easier to reliably and quickly churn out a smaller number of menu items, so there are efficiency gains to menu-shortening.
But all is not lost for veggie Taco Bell fans. The changes don’t render the restaurant totally unfriendly to vegetarians. And animal welfare supporters caution that the company’s still on the right track. “There continues to remain an excellent vegetarian selection, and vegetarian combination options are still available,” Len Torine, executive director of the American Vegetarian Association, told me.
If you’re a 7-Layer Burrito fan, that might be cold comfort. But both the company and outside analysts say that the restaurant is likely to expand its plant-based meat options in the near future. That suggests that the latest menu changes are only a temporary setback for vegetarians and vegans, who could be getting better items soon.
The rest of the fast food industry has been rapidly adopting plant-based meats from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Will Taco Bell be following suit?
The lore of veggie Taco Bell ...
What the menu changes mean ...
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