Taco Bell will begin testing a Beyond Meat-powered Carne Asada Steak dish on October 13, for a limited time.
The dish, available only in Dayton, Ohio, will feature a quesadilla stuffed with Beyond Meat beef chunks, faba beans, and salad. It is certified vegan by the American Vegan Association.
Taco Bell’s parent company – Yum! Brands – inked a three-year deal with Beyond Meat in 2021. Some of its sister fast-food brands, including Pizza Hut and KFC, have already debuted menu items. However, the Carne Asada Steak will be Taco Bell’s first official collaboration with the plant-based company.
Rumors of a failed Carne Asada recipe were circulated at the end of 2021. Back then, Taco Bell reportedly took the project back to the design phase after unsatisfying samples. A planned test launch was canceled as a result.
To minimize accessibility and consumer choice, the Beyond Carne Asada Steak will be price-matched to the standard beef option.
Taco Bell catering for vegans
Despite the excitement surrounding the new trial, it is not the first time that Taco Bell has stepped up to offer meat-free diners more choices.
“At Taco Bell, we’ve long believed that anyone should be able to choose plant-based menu items without compromising the flavors they crave,” chief innovation officer Liza Matthews said in a company statement.
In 2021, the chain began testing a proprietary plant-based protein. Made from chickpeas and peas, the “meaty” filling was designed to be swapped out for standard animal protein. It could be used in any menu item, for no extra cost.
It followed on from an oat-based meat substitute, which debuted in the UK in 2019. Following good reception, it was rolled out in all of the country’s Taco Bell restaurants two years later.
However, Taco Bell has long been considered a more vegan and vegetarian-friendly chain than many of its rivals. Meat-free eaters have long been able to customize the menu by swapping out black beans for animal protein. Ditching the sour cream and cheese for extra guacamole and spiced potatoes is a popular hack as well.
A boost for Beyond Meat
A positive reception to Taco Bell’s Carne Asada Steak dish could offer Beyond Meat something of a lifeline.
Despite reports of the McDonald’s McPlant burger being popular in the UK and Ireland, US sales have been disappointing. There are currently no plans to continue offering the US version of the menu option, which is meat-free but not vegan, once all trials have concluded.
Despite significant and sustained drops in share prices, Beyond Meat appears to be doubling down on its assertion that it knows what consumers want and how to get it to them.
“We know that customers are looking for diverse protein options that are better for the planet without compromising on taste,” Beyond’s chief innovation officer Dariush Ajami said in a statement.