"It was important not to have an upcharge. As a brand, we want make sure this is craveable – as craveable as our seasoned beef – and to democratize the product"
Taco Bell is testing a vegan meat alternative in 50 of its USA restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama.
According to the fast-food chain, it has been working on the product – a soy and pea blend – since 2019.
The proprietary vegan meat will be available on the Crispy Melt Taco, which retails for $2.49.
It features a white corn shell tortilla, filled with shredded cheddar, mozzarella and Monterey pepper jack cheeses, a warm nacho cheese sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream.
Diners can also opt to have the plant-based alternative on any existing Taco Bell item.
A spokesperson for the brand told Forbes that one of the major challenges in creating the product was achieving price parity with traditional meat.
Taco Bell trials vegan meat
Taco Bell’s Chief Innovation Officer Liz Matthews told Forbes: “It was important not to have an upcharge.
“As a brand, we want make sure this is craveable – as craveable as our seasoned beef – and to democratize the product. We wanted to make sure this was accessible.”
Addressing the criticism some people make when it comes to meat alternatives, she added: “We knew it was possible to get to a point where you can’t tell which is which, but these things take time. The details take time.”
On top of Taco Bell’s propriety meat alternative that it is testing in Alabama, the company continues to work with Beyond Meat.
The two brands signed a deal in 2021, but have yet to publicly trial a product together.
While the chain is still working with the plant-based giant, it has noted that the products the two are creating are not related to Taco Bell’s proprietary option.
Matthews told Forbes that Taco Bell is planning to test a product with Beyond Meat in the US during 2022, though she did not disclose what that would be.
You don’t have to go out to enjoy plant-based tacos. Here are 11 easy vegan taco recipes to try at home
Feature image credit: Taco Bell