This article contains opinion.
The American-Mexican fast food giant, Taco Bell, has always had options for people who don’t eat meat, but now the chain has made it easier than ever before by releasing a vegetarian section on its redesigned menu.
On Sept. 12, Taco Bell debuted a new organized meat-free menu, complete with the symbol of the American Vegetarian Association certification. Taco Bell is the first fast food restaurant to receive this certification and was presented with it in 2015.
Taco Bell also added two brand-new vegetarian-specific options to the meatless section of its menu. Totaling 10 items, the options include eight classics, like the Cheese Quesadilla and the Seven-Layer Burrito, and the two new items are the Black Bean Crunch Wrap Supreme and the Black Bean Quesarito.
Although there are no plant-based imitation meat products used in these vegetarian options, a meat-free customer can order anything off the regular menu and simply ask to substitute beans for the meat in that menu item instead.
After sampling four of the 10 items on the menu, I decided that Taco Bell was the easiest fast-food place to acquire vegetarian meal options from, since they have an entire section of their menu dedicated for this specific purpose. They all included the same ingredients and were quite similar in taste, although the Black Bean Quesarito was delicious and seemed to stick out a little more from the rest of the items in taste.
The vegetarian menu incudes three items that are only $1 each and are still fantastic options for students who might be worried about eating vegetarian while still watching their wallets, since a meat-free lifestyle can prove to be slightly more expensive if you aren’t conscious about your vegetarian money-saving options.
Vegetarianism and meat-free lifestyles are on the rise across the world, especially in the United States, and more and more restaurants and fast-food establishments have been looking into options that will cater more readily to the expanding vegetarian and vegan demographics.
Vegetarianism began to rise in the U.S. and has since exploded, prompting restaurants to make the change. This type of diet introduces many beneficial changes to a person’s life. Some of the main benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet include a healthier lifestyle due to the cutting out of a huge portion of saturated fats from red meat, a significantly smaller carbon footprint due to the same elimination of red meat consumption and the moral issues surrounding the raising and treatment of the livestock in the meat industry.
If a consumer is considering joining the meat-free lifestyle, Taco Bell might be a simple first step toward a fully integrated vegetarian diet for a beginner, but consumers should still be aware that Taco Bell’s vegetarian options are not necessarily the healthiest of meat-free options, especially if they are choosing to go meatless specifically to better their dietary health.
Taco Bell’s items are almost like training wheels for a new vegetarian but should certainly not be a fixed part of the diet since they are still considerably high in calories, saturated fats and sodium.
Although a handful of other fast food establishments offer meat-free options for vegetarian customers, such as Red Robin and most recently Burger King, Taco Bell’s clear organization of their vegetarian section makes it the restaurant with the most options, and, therefore, the most variability between their meat-free menu items.