Taco Bell and Beyond Meat are finally ready to share what they’ve cooked up over the past few years and it’s an innovation like no other. Starting October 13, Beyond Carne Asada Steak will hit the menu for a limited time (or while supplies last) at nearly 50 Taco Bell locations in Dayton, Ohio.
The new vegan steak is made to mimic the flavor and texture of the marinated steak found in Taco Bell but doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients.
“We know that consumers are looking for diverse protein options that are better for the planet without compromising on taste, so we are very excited to launch our innovative new Beyond Carne Asada Steak,” Dariush Ajami, Chief Innovation Officer at Beyond Meat said in a statement. “Beyond Carne Asada Steak is specifically designed to complement the delicious, bold flavors that Taco Bell is known for, delivering the delicious, flavorful taste of marinated grilled steak with the added benefits of plant-based meat.”
The Beyond Carne Asada steak will be featured in quesadillas ($5.19) but can be ordered on any menu item in lieu of animal-derived meat at no additional cost — a rarity at quick service restaurants. [QSRs] Vegetarian alternatives are often provided at an additional cost.
“At Taco Bell, we’ve always believed that anyone should be able to choose vegetarian menu items without compromising the flavors they crave,” Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s chief global food innovation officer, said in a statement. “That’s why we at Taco Bell are thrilled to reveal the result of our long-standing partnership with Beyond Meat, which has never before been in the QSR industry. Carne Asada’s plant-based steak is the latest step in our history in crafting some of the most unique and worthy offerings for all fans. “.
Similar to the other vegan items on the Taco Bell menu, the new Beyond Carne Asada Steak is certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association. While Taco Bell defines “vegan” as being made without animal ingredients, the chain notes that new vegan steaks can come into contact with animal products due to shared equipment and surfaces.
Vegetarian steak from Beyond Meat at Taco Bell
The new Beyond Carne Asada Steak is the result of a rigorous product development between Beyond Meat and Taco Bell, who worked together to market something consumers haven’t seen on a menu of Taco Bell calibers.
“Good things come to those who wait and that takes time but we wanted to make sure we got it right,” Marisa Terry, Taco Bell’s senior nutritionist, told VegNews during the preview event. “We are very excited to have her here now.”
Vegan steak is made with plant-based ingredients like vital wheat gluten and soaked beans using Taco Bell’s signature seasoning. Savor it at the event, VegNews editors were impressed with the citrusy flavor and chewy Beyond Carne Asada Steak, which we sampled in a mushy vegan taco topped with guacamole.
“We wanted to make something close in taste and texture to traditional marinated grilled steak, so we really looked at all the options to see what made the most sense to deliver what we were looking for,” Terry said. “I am very happy with where we are with the ingredients we have chosen.”
While many QSRs price vegetarian meat at a premium, Taco Bell has chosen to price Beyond Carne Asada Steak equally with traditional steaks in order to make the option attractive and accessible to consumers.
“We think price parity is very important to help increase accessibility for all of our fans looking to try something vegan,” Terry said. “That’s one of the things I love about this [product]—We can serve it for the same price as steaks and not for the price increase.”
Vegan Taco Bell Beef
In 2021, Taco Bell’s vegan options accounted for more than 12 percent of its sales and the chain is looking to boost that number with a new innovation. “We are constantly listening to what our fans are asking us to do and we are developing our list to meet their needs and requirements,” Terry said. “While we’ve had vegan options on our menu since the opening of our first Taco Bell with bean and cheese burrito, we know customers are still asking for more vegan options, so we’re constantly looking for the next step and what we do can bring them something that is unique to Taco Bell and that’s what makes us look great. It gives them what they’re looking for.”
The new Beyond Meat-made steak is just one of the vegetarian meat options Taco Bell is currently exploring. In April 2021, Taco Bell first unveiled its “seasoned vegan protein” in one location in Tustin, California and offered it as part of the Cravetarian Taco (a meat-free version of Crunchy Taco Supreme). Last fall, Taco Bell expanded testing its first vegan beef to 95 Detroit-area sites to gain market insights into the protein more broadly. Last month, Taco Bell expanded testing to 50 locations in Birmingham, AL where the chain collects information on vegan beef through mid-October.
Beyond Carne Asada Steak could have a similar path to vegan beef from Taco Bell, with multiple market tests to gain ideas. “We will find out what makes the most sense to our customers and fans and we will listen to them during this test to hear what they have to say,” Terry said. “But the sky is the limit.”
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