Taco Bell will be testing new vegetarian menu items and listing them on a dedicated menu aimed at flexitarians and consumers of meatless dishes, the company announced Thursday morning.
“Taco Bell has more than 8 million vegetarian combinations, so there are plenty of gratifying meatless options from which to choose — enough to customize a new meal every day for nearly 20,000 years,” the Irvine, Calif.-based chain said in a statement.
The vegetarian menu test is one of seven “commitments” Taco Bell is making for 2019.
“We decided to scratch the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead make new year commitments,” Julie Masino, president of Taco Bell North America, said in the statement.
The other six commitments include improving food quality, creating more new jobs, improving recycling efforts, balancing flavor with affordability, and doubling scholarship awards through the Taco Bell Foundation.
Here’s a rundown of the seven commitments:
Higher Quality Ingredients: By spring, Taco Bell said it will have fully removed the synthetic preservative tBHQ from all items on its menu. The brand is also in the process of reducing sodium by an additional 10 percent, for a 25 percent total reduction by 2025. The company said it will continue to be committed to using the highest quality ingredients such as grilled all-white meat chicken, vine-ripened tomatoes, and Hass avocados.
Sustainable Program for Beef: The company said it is now a member of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB). The network is comprised of a variety of stakeholders in the beef industry from suppliers to animal welfare organizations. The group’s goal is to work together to improve the sustainability of U.S.-grown beef.
Recycling: Taco Bell recently rolled out fully recyclable cold cups and lids at the company’s 7,000 U.S. restaurants. That accounts for more than 95 percent of drinks sold at the company. Taco Bell said they are committed to making 100 percent of its cups recyclable by 2021.
Value and Flavor: Taco Bell said it will never force consumers to choose between affordability and craveability. The chain said no item on its $1 menu will ever sacrifice “taste, size or quality.” The company will also continue to offer bundled $5 value box meals.
Create More Jobs in the U.S.: Taco Bell said it will “work toward its commitment to creating 100,000 new U.S. jobs by 2022.” The brand said it also has a goal of hiring 80 percent of its management positions internally.
Scholarship Money: The company said it has more than doubled the financial support given to students through the Taco Bell Foundation. The company plans to award $21 million in scholarships by 2021. This year, more than $4 million in scholarships will be awarded, up from $1 million in 2018. The chain is making it easier for customers to donate to the foundation. Starting this month, customers at checkout can “round up” their order to the nearest whole dollar. For example, a $2.89 Chalupa Supreme can become a $3 meal with the extra 11 cents going towards the “educational dreams of passionate innovators,” Taco Bell said.
Veggie Menu: Taco Bell did not disclose where the company will be testing the vegetarian menu or the new items. This is not the first time the brand has promoted an alternative lifestyle menu. More than a decade ago, the company expanded options on its Fresco reduced-fat menu.
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