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Taco Bell to test a vegetarian Menu

The chain also plans to work on sustainable beef, improve recycling efforts and use simpler ingredients.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Taco Bell is going vegetarian.

The Irvine, Calif.-based Mexican chain plans to test its first, dedicated vegetarian menu this year as it works to remind consumers of its meat-free options.

The company is already certified by the American Vegetarian Association and has more than 8 million vegetarian options. But the company said it plans to test a dedicated vegetarian menu in stores and feature new vegetarian items this year.

The test is part of what the company calls “New Year’s Commitments,” with efforts such as simplifying ingredients and using more recyclable cups.

“We decided to scratch the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead make New Year’s commitments,” Julie Masino, president of North America for Taco Bell, said in a statement. “They are promises that we know we will keep.”

The company’s planned vegetarian test comes as more restaurant chains are pushing meat-free options. Del Taco, for instance, is testing tacos made with plant-based Beyond Meat. Carl’s Jr. started offering a Beyond Meat burger this year, and White Castle sells an Impossible Slider at its restaurants.

Taco Bell’s commitments follow a 2017 initiative in which the company agreed to remove extra-large soda cups, use cage-free eggs and antibiotic-free chicken, and increase the company’s scholarship program.

The company has now vowed to cut sodium from its menu by 25% by 2025. It also said it has removed all artificial flavors and colors from its menu and work to remove preservatives and other additives.

It plans to remove the preservative TBHQ from its menu by this spring and says it will continue to pursue “the highest-quality ingredients.”

Taco Bell also said it has joined the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, a network of organizations to improve the welfare of the country’s beef supply. It recently started using recyclable cups in all 7,000 of its U.S. restaurants and plans to make all of its cups recyclable by 2021.

The company also has plans to create 100,000 new U.S. jobs by 2022 as it grows. The Taco Bell Foundation also plans to award $21 million in scholarships by 2021, with $4 million this year.

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