Taco Bell Is Testing a New Plant-Based Protein in ‘Cravetarian Taco’
Laura Lee - April 28, 2021

Lester

By Shel Silverstein

Lester was given a magic wish
By the goblin who lives in the banyan tree,
And with his wish he wished for two more wishes-
So now instead of just one wish, he cleverly had three.
And with each one of these
He simply wished for three more wishes,
Which gave him three old wishes, plus nine new.
And with each of these twelve
He slyly wished for three more wishes,
Which added up to forty-six -- or is it fifty-two?
Well anyway, he used each wish
To wish for wishes 'til he had
Five billion, seven million, eighteen thousand thirty-four.
And then he spread them on the ground
And clapped his hands and danced around
And skipped and sang, and then sat down
And wished for more.
And more...and more...they multiplied
While other people smiled and cried
And loved and reached and touched and felt.
Lester sat amid his wealth
Stacked mountain-high like stacks of gold,
Sat and counted -- and grew old.
And then one Thursday night they found him
Dead -- with his wishes piled around him.
And they counted the lot and found that not
A single one was missing.
All shiny and new -- here, take a few
And think of Lester as you do.
In a world of apples and kisses and shoes
He wasted his wishes on wishing.

It’s safe to say that in recent years there has been a plant-based explosion on menus everywhere. In 2019, when every quick-service brand seemed to be testing out plant-based meats, Taco Bell basically didn’t hop on the train. But the plant-based meat buss is still around and kicking, and so Taco Bell has reversed course. By early 2020, they met with industry leaders like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. All the while, Taco Bell was adding plant-based options in Europe. And now in the U.S., the wait is finally over. Taco Bell has announced they are publically testing “a proprietary, all-new boldly seasoned plant-based protein” at a single location in California. And if you’re able to get to Tustin before April 29 (or before supplies run out), you can try the new Cravetarian Taco.

 

Created by “the masterminds at the Taco Bell Test Kitchen,” Taco Bell says the new fake meat—which at least visually resembles their classic ground beef—is made from a blend of peas and chickpeas and is American Vegetarian Association-certified vegan. The Cravetarian Taco is then assembled like a Crunchy Taco Supreme with shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes, and reduced-fat sour cream in a crunchy corn shell. And at 180, the final product is ten calories less than your usual Crunchy Taco Supreme.

 

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But as with most Taco Bell’s ingredients, the story doesn’t stop there: “Guests can also add or swap the plant-based protein in their favorites from chalupas to burritos and everything in between,” all at no extra cost, Taco Bell explains. And since the protein is vegan, “fans who are vegan or those who want to try more plant-based foods can customize almost every Taco Bell menu item to be vegan.”

 

If you happen to find your way to 14042 Red Hill Ave. in Tustin, California, expect a Cravetarian Taco to set you back $2.19. Taco Bell says that if the meat goes over well, they’ll decide whether it’s worth rolling out to other locations. However, that’s not all: In the announcement, Taco Bell also snuck in a mention about another vegetarian offering in the works as part of a separate partnership with Beyond Meat.

 

“In the next year, the brand is excited to team up with Beyond Meat to create a new innovative plant-based protein to appeal to an even broader audience of consumers,” the company added. A spokesperson clarified to me that this will be a completely separate protein option from the one used in the Cravetarian Taco that will also need to be tested before a possible larger rollout. It’s almost like Taco Bell feels like they have some catching up to do!