- Taco Bell Spain now offers a vegan meat substitute made from oats and beans marinated in a blend of spices, according to LiveKindly. The product, which is certified by the American Vegetarian Association, is manufactured by Helsinki-based Gold&Green Foods and is the first time Taco Bell Spain has offered a vegan substitute.
- Taco Bell also served its vegan oat-based meat substitute in the U.K. during National Vegetarian Week in May.
- The chain is creating a stronger vegetarian menu in the U.S., but has said it has no plans to offer plant-based protein substitutes from Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods domestically.
Even though Taco Bell continues to buck the plant-based trend in the U.S., that doesn't seem the case abroad. And many others have been doing the same. McDonald's, which has yet to roll out a vegan option in the U.S., started selling its first vegan burger option in Germany called the Big Vegan TS this year, using Nestle's plant-based Incredible Burger. McDonald's Germany also offers a quinoa vegetarian patty substitute and is testing a vegan chicken burger in its Munich test kitchen. KFC offered a vegan chicken burger in the U.K. for four weeks during the summer.
These QSRs have yet to revealed the aim behind this strategy, but Europeans may be more receptive to going meatless or to trying new menu items that feature meat substitutes. In Germany, for example, 44% of consumers followed a low-meat diet in 2017 compared to only 26% in 2014. European consumers comprise the largest market for meat substitutes, making up 39% of global sales. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, roughly 5% of the U.S. population are vegetarian and 3% are vegan.
European companies wanting to roll out more plant-based options could be headed for troubled waters, however, as the European Parliament starts to debate a measure that prohibits vegetarian meat and dairy manufacturers from using terms like steak, milk and burger to label their products. On the one hand, this may make the items less appealing to shoppers who shy away from things like "beef substitute" or "milk alternative," or it could make it that much easier for plant-based eaters to find the swaps they're wanting.
Taco Bell isn't completely shying away from the meatless eaters in America. In the U.S., Taco Bell has become more meatless-friendly, for some time now having a "make it meatless" feature to its app and modifying menu items to vegan standards if they're ordered "fresco-style."