Taco Bell and Beyond Meat Unveil Plant-based Carne Asada Steak

We got an advance taste of the first-of-its-kind plant-based protein and it was amazing!

September 21, 2022

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Photo by: Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

If you’re vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian or just dialing back on red meat, yet sometimes secretly yearn for the taste of steak, Taco Bell and Beyond Meat have teamed up to help you satisfy that craving — without breaking any promises to yourself. The two brands have just unveiled a new plant-based protein: Beyond Carne Asada Steak.

That’s the good news. The unfortunate news, for anyone not in Dayton, Ohio, right now, is that that’s the only market you’ll be able to get it during its initial test phase. Starting October 13, for a limited time and while supplies last, the Beyond Carne Asada Steak will be available in about 50 select locations in and around Dayton. (Assuming all goes well, though, a national roll-out will, at some point, follow.)

The best news, though, is that we got an advance taste of the new “first-of-its kind, category-disrupting” plant-based protein, and (spoiler alert!) it was incredible.

Missy Schaaphok, Taco Bell’s director of global nutrition and sustainability, tells Food Network that the brand was “super excited” about the new vegetarian menu item, which is unlike anything out there.

“We’re kind of known as the destination for vegetarians in QSR,” Schaaphok said, noting that the chain has sold bean burritos from the time it first opened its doors, introduced its certified vegetarian menu in 2015 and currently offers three vegan proteins on its menus. “Our fans are super curious about plant-based and they expect innovation from us, so we thought, why not partner with Beyond and bring a first-to-market plant-based protein out there?”

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

The Beyond Carne Asada Steak is made from simple ingredients like wheat, faba bean and the chain’s signature spices and is certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association. The plant-based protein will be featured in Quesadillas, Soft Tacos and Crunchwrap Supremes, but you can swap it in for steak in any menu item — at no extra charge. Schaaphok notes that the chain made a deliberate decision not to up-charge for the plant-based protein so it would be “accessible to our consumers” and encourage them to try it.

We were definitely excited to try it — and we found it just as juicy, savory, toothsome and tasty as real steak. If we didn’t know it was a plant-based alternative, we never would have guessed.

“We wanted this Carne Asada Steak to be just as craveable as our grilled, marinated steak — for the juiciness, the flavors, that umami to come through and for you to not be able to tell the difference,” Schaaphok says.

The innovative plant-based protein took a lot of time — and many iterations — to perfect. Schaaphok says she’s pleased with the groundbreaking results of the chain’s collaboration with Beyond. “A lot of people have done versions of seasoned ground beef, and we wanted something that was different — more disruptive and more distinctive for Taco Bell,” she said. “The partnership with Beyond really helped us unlock that opportunity.”

Shira Zackai, Beyond Meat’s head of communications, says the Beyond team worked “really closely, hand-in-hand” with Taco Bell to develop the new Carne Asada Steak.

“We could not be more excited with how it turned out, and we can’t wait for consumers to try it,” she says. “It tastes absolutely delicious and also allows consumers to eat what they love, with all the upsides of plant-based meats” — without the up-charge that sometimes comes with it.

Taco ’bout a win-win.

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