Taco Bell is trying out a new option for menu items: plant-based carne asada steak.
The company teamed up with Beyond Meat to create Beyond Carne Asada, which is now being tested for a limited time.
Taco Bell and Beyond Meat invited me to a special taste test at Beyond’s sprawling new headquarters near LAX.
The event was set up as a fine food tasting, with the new meat served under a glass enclosed sphere decorated with all kinds of veggies, to remind us that this steak is completely plant based.
“It is made of simple plant-based ingredients like vital wheat gluten and fava bean protein,” explained Taco Bell Senior Nutritionist Melissa Thiry. Yeah, I was surprised to hear that title as well.
The Beyond Carne Asasa was presented in two items: a quesadilla and a soft taco.
Looking at both items you would have no idea that this was a meat replacement.
“It’s meant to taste, have the same texture of marinated and grilled carne asada steak,” said Alison Trager, a communications director at Beyond Meat.
The plant-based protein isn’t being touted as a health food, I mean it’s mostly going to be served with cheese and slathered in a creamy sauce, but it does give customers options.
“It offers some of the benefits of plant-based proteins things like no antibiotics, no hormones, no cholesterol, things like that,” said Trager.
Neither Taco Bell nor Beyond was forthcoming about any other nutritional content, including saturated fat or sodium. When pushed, they explained that customers could get a copy of the nutrition facts at locations that serve the new meat.
As for how it tastes?
The resemblance was uncanny.
The texture, flavor, and chew all resemble real steak. In fact, I don’t think a lot of people could tell the difference between this and real steak.
The plant-based steak is so convincing, Taco Bell marks each item with a “V” sticker to let you know it’s a vegetarian item.
You can even go completely vegan by ordering fresco style, “which removes things like nacho cheese sauce, cheese, and mayo-based sauces and adds fresh tomatoes,” said Thiry.
The best part is that there’s no price difference, customers will be able to swap for Beyond Carne Asada steak in any item.
“[It] really just increases accessibility to everybody who is looking to try more plant-based offerings in their life,” said Thiry.
The quesadilla is going to cost about $5.19, but to get it, at least for now, you’ll have to visit a Taco Bell restaurant in the Dayton, Ohio area. That’s where Beyond Carne Asada is being tested starting October 13.
If all goes well, we might see it on the menu at more locations.