There's not enough appreciation for the work of art that is the vegan Taco Bell menu. If you're vegan or vegetarian, you know how difficult it is to find satisfying meals at fast food restaurants. Too often you're subjected to a small sad pile of fries and apple slices while your friends feast like kings on greasy burgers and chicken nuggets. However, intermixed among the countless fast food restaurants littering our great country's interstates, there's one beacon of hope: Taco Bell.
Taco Bell is not only the only major fast food restaurant with a lengthy list of certified vegetarian and vegan menu items, but they also have over 7,000 locations worldwide. This means when you master the art of ordering vegan Taco Bell food, you can feel safe on road trips, after parties, or any time you're just too busy to cook.What Items are secretly NOT vegan?
Navigating the Taco Bell menu for vegan options can be a little confusing. Some items are certified vegan, and some appear to be vegan, but are not certified. Vegan ingredients include the tortillas, soft and hard taco shells, pico de gallo, salsa, all the beans, guacamole, flatbread, and the tostada shell. All of the sauce packets are vegan as well as the red sauce.
As far as non-vegan ingredients, the meats, cheeses, and sour cream are obviously not vegan. Also all of the creamy sauces you get behind the counter besides red sauce are also not vegan. However, there are also some *secretly* not certified vegan ingredients that appear vegan.
Taco bell doesn't guarantee that their fried items are prepared in a fryer that doesn't contain meat, so many don't contain animal products but could be cross contaminated in the fryer. This is a point that a lot of vegan blogs glaze over, so be aware!
These vegan but not vegan Taco Bell options include the potatoes, hash-browns, chips, and cinnamon twists, which are all totally vegan besides the frying. If the frying isn't something that bothers you personally, add those items to your list. All the items listed below are 100% certified vegan with the appropriate swaps.
The "veggie power menu bowl," or as I call it the "poor man's Chipotle," packs in a ton of protein and carbs to keep you full through the day. The best part? Extra guac is only 40 cents instead of $1.80.
How to order it: No cheese, no sour cream, no avocado ranch.
#SpoonTip: Add some red sauce to any vegan Taco Bell meal for free if you want a little extra kick.
The quintessential cheap vegetarian food is the bean burrito. I know vegetarians who lived off this for years in college. It's under two dollars, and with one quick swap it's vegan!
How to order it: Either ask for no cheese or order it fresco, which takes out the cheese and adds pico de gallo for free.
It's a bizarrely shaped mass of carbs you'll only see at Taco Bell, and it manages to cram every vegan ingredient they serve into a convenient shape you can take on the go.
How to order it: Swap out beef for your choice of either pinto or black beans, and make it fresco to take out the cheese and sour cream and add pico.
It's spicy, it's crunchy, and you can get it for exactly 1 whole dollar even with the swaps to make it vegan.
How to order it: Ask for no cheese or chipotle sauce.
At $1.29, order five and feast like a king for under $10. Or just grab a couple of 12 packs and throw a bomb vegan party.
How to order it: Make it fresco, which takes out the cheese and adds pico.
Okay, so this one is a little more sketchy because, I admit, it's a little strange to order a pizza with no cheese. However, get it home and melt some vegan cheese on it in the microwave. It's life changing.
How to order it: If you're unfamiliar with this one, it's a "pizza" (aka two tortillas) stuffed with beef and beans and topped with cheese, "Mexican pizza sauce," and tomatoes. Ask to swap the beef for more beans and take the cheese off, and melt the vegan cheese on top. Also, you're going to want to splurge and pay 30 cents for jalapeños. Trust me on this one.
#SpoonTip: If asking for a lot of substitutions makes you feel anxious, Taco Bell has an app for mobile ordering that allows you to veganize your order without having to talk to anyone.
Sometimes simplicity is the best thing. It also happens to be the only 100% naturally vegan Taco Bell item.
How to order it: No changes needed.
Taco bell, like many other fast food chains, prove that salads don't exactly equal healthy. However, if you want a higher lettuce to rice ratio and you love those red strips, this could be a good option for you.
How to order it: The fried salad shell is one of the fried items that could be cross contaminated, so skip out on that. Also make it fresco to avoid cheese and sour cream and add pico.
I gotta throw some love to my personal favorite option on the menu. First off, it's huge. Not Chipotle huge, but still bigger than your average burrito. Second, it gives you all the good stuff (black beans for protein, veggies, healthy fat in guacamole), without any of the unnecessary stuff.
How to order it: Don't ask for this one fresco, as that takes out the guac. Ask for no cheese, no sour cream, and no avocado ranch sauce.
It's a normal crunchy taco in a protective soft shell to keep in your precious beans. It's slightly more expensive than a regular taco, but much more expertly designed.
How to order it: Swap the beef for black beans inside for variety, because there's refried beans on the outside. Then make it fresco.
This might be overly simple, but it's worth its own listing in appreciation that the refried beans on Taco Bell's menu are completely vegan, because most refried beans on Mexican restaurant menus are not even vegetarian. Digging into a warm tub of beans and spicy red sauce is one of the small victories that the vegan Taco Bell menu has graced us with.
How to order it: No cheese, please.
These ideas are just to get you started. But don't let your creativity stop here! Taco bell has over 5.7 million vegetarian combinations. That means once you memorize which ingredients are (and are not) vegan, you can come up with your own savory, spicy, and always dirt cheap meals whenever you're on the go. Thanks to your faithful pal Taco Bell, you never have to go hungry (or bored) eating vegan fast food again.
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