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Taco Bell Is Going After Vegetarians

By Daniel B. Kline - Mar 3, 2020 at 11:52AM

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The chain has put a new focus on its offerings for people who opt for meat-free choices.

While its rivals add plant-based meat options, Yum! Brands'(YUM 0.00%) Taco Bell has taken a different approach to lure in vegetarians or people who simply want meat-free options.

The chain has decided to increase its focus on the nearly 50 menu items that are certified by the American Vegetarian Association (AVA), according to Nation's Restaurant News (NRN). That number has more than tripled over the past six months.

The exterior of a Taco Bell.

Taco Bell is highlighting its meat-free menu items. Image source: Yum! Brands.

How is Taco Bell focusing on vegetarian items?

Taco Bell offers kiosk-based ordering in its updated stores. Those kiosks will offer a "Veggie Mode" beginning March 12. That should make it easier for vegetarian customers (or those looking for veggie-forward options) to know that what they're ordering does not contain meat.

The new kiosk option also shows customers which menu items are AVA certified. That allows them to build custom choices.

"We've been doing vegetarian for a long time, but that is not enough for us. People should be given more options than one plant-based choice," Taco Bell's global nutrition and sustainability manager Missy Schaaphok said in a statement reported by NRN. "At Taco Bell, celebrating vegetarian is more than just a trend, it is something we do every day of the week."

A smart take on meat-free

Many vegetarians aren't looking for meat substitutes. They want to eat meat-free foods and Taco Bell is making that much easier to do.

This is a smart angle that highlights how people who want vegetarian options have a lot of choices at the Mexican-food chain. That does not preclude offering a meat substitute going forward, but at the moment it's actually a market differentiator.

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