Taco Bell Leads the Fast-Food Pack

The Future of Fast Food

Even those of us who love to cook can’t always prepare our meals from scratch. Whether you’re in the midst of an extra-busy week, or on the road, you may find yourself drawn to the convenience of fast food from time to time. But it’s a bummer when the only so-called plant-based option is French fries (and even those may be fried in beef fat—remember that McDonald’s controversy and lawsuit back in 2001?).

Luckily, all that is changing! And one chain leading the way is Taco Bell.

Certified Vegetarian – and Vegan – Options 

salsa, peppers, tortillas, and other traditional mexican foodsIn 2015, Taco Bell made history as the first-ever quick-service restaurant (QSR) to offer menu items certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA). To get certified by the AVA, companies must submit all the ingredients used in a menu item. Dishes that contain eggs or dairy products can be certified as vegetarian, and those that contain no animal by-products can be certified as vegan.

Taco Bell chain now offers 13 ready-made menu items that have been certified as vegetarian by the AVA, and 35 certified vegetarian à la carte ingredients, 26 of which are also vegan. And many of them include beans, which are one of the healthiest foods for longer life! The AVA-certified menu items at Taco Bell include:

  • Egg & Cheese AM Grilled Taco
  • Egg & Cheese Biscuit Taco
  • 7-Layer Burrito
  • Bean Burrito
  • Black Beans & Rice
  • Cantina Power Veggie Bowl
  • Cantina Power Veggie Burrito
  • Cheese Quesadilla
  • Double Tostada
  • Pintos ‘n Cheese

Although most of the 13 ready-made menu items aren’t vegan, they can be made that way via substitution or removal.

Of the certified-vegetarian ingredients, only 11 are not also vegan, allowing ample choices to create a tasty, filling vegan meal. That list includes:

  • Beans and black beans
  • Flatbread
  • Tortillas
  • Taco shell
  • Tostada shell
  • Premium Latin Rice
  • Guacamole
  • The Fire, Hot, Mild and Verde Border Sauces
  • Cantina Salsa
  • Green Chili and Green Tomatillo Sauce
  • Mexican Pizza Sauce
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeños
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Rainforest Coffee

Customers “More Engaged and More Curious” Than Ever! 

A Taco Bell spokesperson told Latest Vegan News that they were “extremely proud” to continue their “tradition of rolling out food-first” by becoming the first QSR to be certified the AVA. “We know our customers are more engaged and more curious about their food than ever before, and with an AVA certification – the recognized standard of vegetarian assurance – those looking for meat-free options can be confident in their choices.”

It looks like Taco Bell’s choice to cater to the growing population of plant-based eaters has paid off. The company stated that they sell more than 350 million vegetarian menu items each year. Hopefully that response will encourage other chains to follow Taco Bell’s lead. Maybe someday, we’ll even see plant-based “meats” and “cheeses” on the menu at mainstream chains!  In the meantime, with more than 6,000 Taco Bells across the United States, you have at least one easy, accessible option you can order from a speaker box.