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Taco Bell Is Planning a New Vegetarian Menu Free of Fake Meat

The fast-food chain is not planning on working with Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods

taco bell 7-layer burrito
Taco Bell’s 7-Layer Burrito, one of many vegetarian-friendly items currently on the menu.
Photo via Taco Bell media gallery

It appears Taco Bell will not be joining so many of its fast-food brethren in the land of fake meat. After announcing in January that it would be testing its first dedicated vegetarian menu this year, Taco Bell revealed on Wednesday that the chain is not planning on working with Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods to add plant-based meat to its menu.

“We’ve met with Beyond, we’ve met with Impossible,” Julie Felss Masino, Taco Bell’s president of North American operations, told CNBC. “But I think what we’re proud of is that we’ve been doing vegetarian for 57 years.”

While other chains like Burger King, White Castle, and even taco competitor Del Taco have focused on meatless beef alternatives, Masino told Insider that Taco Bell is doubling down on its existing vegetarian protein options: the refried beans, black beans, and potatoes that already make Taco Bell an attractive option for non-meat eaters.

Taco Bell, which is the only American Vegetarian Association-certified fast-food chain in the country, boasts a relatively vegetarian-friendly menu, thanks in part to flexible personalization options. According to a company blog post, approximately nine percent of all items ordered at Taco Bell are either vegetarian or made vegetarian by customization, accounting for the sale of 350 million vegetarian items a year. The bean burrito — consisting of refried beans, cheese, onions, and red sauce in a tortilla — is Taco Bell’s no. 2 best-selling item, CNBC reports.

Per Insider, Beyond Meat’s shares were down yesterday after CNBC reported that Taco Bell would not be collaborating with Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods to bring fake meat to its menu. Both plant-based meat producers face fierce competition from each other and other companies like Tyson to secure partnerships with restaurants and grocery stores in an effort to carve out a bigger share of the $14 billion alternative meat market, which has the potential to grow into a $140 billion industry.