Taco Bell Testing Plant-Based Chalupa Shell at Just One U.S. Location

by Emily Morgan
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The battle of the best chicken sandwich may be in full swing among several fast-food chains. However, Taco Bell might have an ace up its sleeve. According to the popular taco chain, it’s hoping to garner more vegetarians with a new change to its menu.

Earlier this week, Taco Bell revealed that plans to test a new plant-based shell alternative for its Naked Chicken Chalupa, which came back to the restaurant in May.

Sadly, those hoping to try the shell have to reside in Irvine, Calif. Additionally, the chain is ending testing on Sunday. The plant-based shell alternative costs $3.49.

According to the master of the “fourth meal,” the vegetarian alternative shell is “made from a pea protein-based proprietary blend that’s breaded, shaped into the unique Chalupa form and then crisped to order.”

As for the shell’s contents, it includes the plant-based Naked Chicken Chalupa with lettuce, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, and avocado ranch sauce, just like the original Naked Chicken Chalupa.

Per Taco Bell’s global chief food innovation officer, Liz Matthews, “We’ve long been a food disruptor, and this time is no different,” she said. “We’ve seen our industry follow patterns of sameness. But we understand that consumers are looking for creativity and craveability in this space.”

Taco Bell Hopes to Cater to Vegetarians With Menu Change

Moreso, the chain has also hinted at adding another new menu item. However, they have yet to release further details. According to the announcement, Taco Bell will be partnering with Beyond Meat on the new dish. Taco Bell hopes it will “appeal to an even broader audience of consumers.” Customers can expect more details soon.

The chain recently announced the return of its Naked Chicken Chalupa. The chain brought back the chalupa this spring as a way to cause waves with the ongoing “chicken wars” customers have seen play out in the last year.

Taco Bell first introduced the Naked Chicken Chalupa in 2017. While other chains have been quick to jump the plant-based trend, Taco Bell has long allowed its customers to swap meat for beans.

The chain has long been a fast-food favorite among vegetarians. It leaned in on catering to vegetarians by adding more meatless options to its 7,000 US locations in 2019.

Later in 2020, Taco Bell also introduced “Veggie Mode” kiosks at several locations to make ordering meatless quick and carefree. The kiosks are programmed with a one-swipe option that transforms the menu to display its 50 vegetarian options. Additionally, many of which can also be customized to be entirely vegan.

“As you know well, we are constantly listening to our fans and we never say never,” a Taco Bell spokesperson said earlier. “Every test item and menu change is highly intentional, and we are currently focused on plant-based meats. We’ve made space on the menu for new products. So there is more to come in 2021 as we continue innovation and product testing behind-the-scenes.”

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