When it comes to veganism, Mexican food is one of the best options. You have enchiladas, nachos, tacos, and so much more to choose from.
Sure it all depends on the ingredients.
Taco Bell is one of the most famous Mexican fast-food chains in the world. It all started in 1962 when Glen Bell was inspired to convert his hot dog stand into a Mexican food restaurant.
Since then it has grown to over 7,000 locations worldwide.
However, when you visit a Taco Bell restaurant for a quick breakfast, does the menu offer vegan choices?
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Taco Bell’s Breakfast Menu
You may find that the menu offerings can be slightly different depending on what country you are based in. Going global means having to give the consumers what they want, as a Taco Bell representative told Insider.com:
“There are regional differences and dietary preferences to take into consideration. So we want to give local markets freedom to innovate and tailor the menu to fit their culture.
“It’s important to us that our menus reflect local tastes, as we expand across the globe. Our menu is constantly evolving and bringing fans back to try new, imaginative dishes, so naturally, we’re bringing this same spirit of innovation to other countries.”
Let’s look at the typical breakfast menu of Taco Bell:
- A.M. Grilled Taco (Bacon)
- A.M. Grilled Taco (Sausage)
- A.M. Crunchwrap (Bacon, Sausage or Country)
- A.M. Crunchwrap (California)
- A.M. Crunchwrap (Steak)
- Biscuit Taco (Egg & Cheese or Sausage & Cheese)
- Biscuit Taco (Bacon, Egg & Cheese or Sausage, Egg & Cheese)
- Grande Scrambler (Bacon or Sausage)
- Grande Scrambler (Steak)
- Grilled Breakfast Burrito (Country, Bacon or Sausage)
- Cheesy Burrito (Bacon or Sausage)
- Cheesy Burrito (Steak)
- Cinnabon Delights
- Hash Brown
Unfortunately, most of those items can be crossed off the list for vegans. The hash browns are an option, but then you’ll need to know what oil the restaurant has used to fry them in.
That doesn’t mean that vegans aren’t catered for when it comes to breakfast.
Taco Bell does allow for tacos to be customized to suit your needs. Sure, it might not be like Subway where you can ask the staff what to put in your sandwich, but Taco Bell lets you make requests about your meal.
The company’s website says:
“Customize any of our tacos with a variety of sauces and add-ons to create the ultimate taco for you and your friends. With breakfast options at select locations to late night, Taco Bell serves made-to-order and customizable tacos so you can satisfy your taco craving throughout the day.”
Taco Bell in Australia also mentions this in its FAQ section regarding vegetarian options:
“…all items ordered at Taco Bell are able to be made vegetarian-friendly by some type of substitution or removal. Our Mexican-inspired seasoned rice and Black Beans are both vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
You can customize almost any item on our menu by replacing meat with beans!”
That’s great news for vegans.
However, there are warnings to heed about the possibility of cross-contamination.
From Taco Bell’s Canadian site you will find this statement at the bottom of the menu page:
“American Vegetarian Association certified Vegetarian food items, are lacto-ovo, allowing consumption of dairy and eggs but not animal byproducts. We may use the same frying oil to prepare menu items that could contain meat.
Vegetarian and meat ingredients are handled in common, and cross contact may occur, which may not be acceptable to certain types of vegetarian diets. Neither Taco Bell, our employees, our franchisees nor the AVA assume any responsibility for such cross contact.”
This disclaimer isn’t on all of Taco Bell’s sites. For example, you will find one similar on their New Zealand page but not on the company’s Australian site.
When it comes to the vegetarian options, you will soon see that it varies by country. The British menu has three items whereas the Canadian menu has fourteen.
Australia and New Zealand don’t offer a vegetarian section in their menus.
But, as we mentioned, you can swap out ingredients so that you can have a vegan meal at Taco Bell.
Some ideas to get you started in the morning with Taco Bell
You don’t have to stick with just the breakfast menu, feel free to order something off Taco Bell’s full menu and then swap out the non-vegan items.
With the Crunchy and Soft Tacos, simply say that you want them “fresco style”. That’s Taco Bell’s secret word for making a vegan taco.
If you get a confused look from the staff, ask them to hold off on the cheese, meat, and sour cream.
Bean Burritos can be made vegan by asking for no cheese. When it comes to the Bean and Rice Burritos, tell the staff to take out the sauces.
The way Taco Bell makes vegan-friendly food is by taking out the meat and dairy-based sauces and substituting them with vegetables, beans, and vegan sauces.
As we mentioned, the magic words are “Fresco Style”. This will let the staff know that you are wanting a vegan meal and will swap out the non-vegan components.
You do have an option of vegan-friendly side dishes. These are Black Beans, Chips, and Cinnamon Twists.
Also, the following are ideal:
- Chalupa Shell and Crunchy Taco Shell.
- Soft Taco Shell
- Nacho Chips
- Hash Browns
- Seasoned Refried Beans
- Seasoned Rice
- Jalapeno Peppers
Taco Bell certainly takes care of vegans. The company is stepping up its offerings for this portion of the consumer market.
Offering Plant-Based Meat
Taco Bell has had a chequered history with its plant-based meat options. While other fast-food chains went with it, Taco Bell dragged its feet.
However, in 2020, the company decided that it is now going to offer vegans plant-based meat items.
The meat substitute is created from chickpeas and peas. It’s so good that it has been given the seal of approval by the American Vegetarian Association.
A Taco Bell spokesperson told VegNews:
“We’ve never seen vegetarian offerings as just a trend, and we don’t see them as exclusively for vegetarians.
We pride ourselves on being a place where every type of lifestyle can find exactly what they’re craving, and we’re always listening to our fans—the vegetarians, veggie-curious, and meat-eaters alike.
So, we’re excited to foray into plant-based meat and bring even more plant-based offerings to the masses.”
April 29, 2020, in Tustin, California, Taco Bell trialed the idea, which was called the Cravetarian Taco. It was a success and the trial was extended to 95 other locations.
The result? Another way that vegans can enjoy Taco Bell’s tacos and burritos without having to ask for “Fresco Style”.
Though Taco Bell has always offered vegan options, the push to highlight these was driven by necessity. Del Taco, one of the company’s main competitors, started promoting plant-based proteins on its menu.
That’s a win for vegans who are fans of Taco Bell.
It’s just the beginning
Vegans are rejoicing because fast food brands are stepping up to meet the demand from such individuals.
A look at Taco Bell’s breakfast menu may be disappointing for some vegans. That’s because there doesn’t appear to be much to choose from except for the hash browns and cinnamon twists. However, Taco Bell allows its items to be customized. With that option, the menu has widened considerably for vegans. Plant-based meats add another level to the choices available.
The Cravetarian Taco is just the beginning of a new range of vegan offerings from Taco Bell. A company spokesperson told VegNews that “…we’ve made space on the menu for new products.”
These are exciting times for vegans who love a touch of Mexican in the morning. Taco Bell has always been a vegan favorite and it looks like that reputation is going to stay.