Fast-food chain Taco Bell will unveil its first-ever dedicated vegetarian menu in Dallas locations on Thursday. The menu—which highlights three of its current vegetarian options in one place, making it easier for customers to order meatless meals—is Taco Bell’s next step in exploring growing demand for plant-based foods. Last summer, the chain launched a “Make it Meatless” feature on its ordering app that replaces all meat on its menu with beans to encourage vegetarian orders—which amount to nine percent of the chain’s annual sales. During a press event today, Taco Bell showcased its vegetarian items and told VegNews that a “Vegetarian 2.0” menu is already in development. When pressed about vegan meat and cheese options, Taco Bell Chief Food Innovation Officer Elizabeth Matthews responded, “You’re going to be surprised with what we launch after this.” Earlier this year, competing chains Del Taco and Qdoba added Beyond Meat beef crumbles and Impossible Meat, respectively, to their menus, and Taco Bell is eager to explore its own opportunities in the vegan space. Matthews said Taco Bell is currently searching for ideas, consumer input, and brand partnerships to facilitate further menu innovation. In Dallas, Taco Bell will closely monitor the test market for feedback on its vegetarian menu—which can be ordered vegan by asking for items “Fresco style”—and plans to expand the feature to locations nationwide by 2020. “We’re going to listen to consumers first and find out where to go next,” Matthews said.
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