Updated 8:26 PM EDT Sep 10, 2019
While Taco Bell isn’t jumping on the alternative meats bandwagon, the Mexican fast-food chain is rolling out what it calls a “not-so-new ‘new’ vegetarian menu.”
Starting Thursday, Sept. 12 at restaurants nationwide, Taco Bell will have its “first-ever dedicated in-store vegetarian menu board” and is introducing two new menu items, the chain announced Tuesday.
The menu boards will list four items including the new Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme and new Black Bean Quesarito, 7-Layer Burrito and Bean Burrito.
“While other fast food restaurants are just now dipping their toes in the meatless space, Taco Bell has long been a friend to vegetarians,” the company said in a statement. “The bean burrito has been on the menu for 50 years and is Taco Bell’s second best-selling item.”
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In 2015, Taco Bell became the first quick-serve restaurant to offer items certified by the American Vegetarian Association, which is considered the industry’s standard in vegetarian labeling.
In January, Taco Bell announced its intention to test a dedicated vegetarian menu with new items and menu boards.
Along with the four items on the vegetarian menus, nine other vegetarian items are “sprinkled throughout the larger menu, all indicated by an easy-to-spot vegetarian symbol for consumers,” Taco Bell said.
There also are 36 certified vegetarian ingredients, of which 26 are vegan, that can be customized more than 8 million ways.
“At Taco Bell, we believe that vegetarian food shouldn’t be a compromise; it shouldn’t be limited to one item, and it shouldn’t be just for vegetarians,” Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s global chief food innovation officer, said in a news release.
However, there is some fine print.
According to Taco Bell, vegetarian and meat ingredients are “handled in common, and cross contact may occur, which may not be acceptable to certain types of vegetarian diets.”
When Burger King took its Impossible Whopper nationwide in August for a limited-run, the chain noted with an asterisk that the plant-based burger is “*Flame-grilled in the same broiler used for beef and chicken.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko