I used to be a vegetarian for 10 years. That is no longer true. But one strong principle still stands–if the meat is terrible, why kill an animal for it? That’s especially true in low level fast food. What possible good is it to eat a McDonald’s burger or Taco Bell taco? That food is terrible. It would be better if it did not have the meat-like substances used: better for you, better for the environment, better for animals, better for your tastebuds.
Just two weeks after Burger King announced it was partnering with Impossible Foods to offer a new meatless burger, Del Taco has announced it’s partnering with Beyond Meat to offer new meatless tacos.
For the uninitiated, Del Taco is a restaurant chain that sells Mexican food in 580 locations across the US. Now it’s also the first Mexican fast-food concept to sell tacos with Beyond Meat. Starting April 25, the new “Beyond Tacos” will be available in all 580 stores. There’ll be vegetarian (with cheese) and vegan versions. Both sell for $2.49 (the standard taco is $1.49).
The partnership is further evidence that plant-based meat is going mainstream, and fast. Startups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are racing to team up with traditionally meat-focused restaurant chains that can introduce plant-based meat to a wide consumer base.
“Definitely there’s a sense that there’s a movement going on that’s much bigger than any one company,” Ethan Brown, the founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, told me. “I think competition is good — it helps to grow awareness of the sector.”
For their part, the chains are eager to partner with the startups because customers are increasingly seeking out meat alternatives, including for health reasons. Chains know there’s profit to be made here.
This is a hugely encouraging shift for those who want to see meat alternatives replace actual meat because of concerns over animal cruelty or climate change. If plant-based meat scales up, it could help save hundreds of thousands of animals from suffering on factory farms, and it could fight global warming by reducing the number of methane-producing cattle. It could also combat other problems like antibiotic resistance.
What is the possible downside here? Those fake meat products certainly don’t taste better than a good steak or even a decent ham sandwich. But they absolutely taste better than the gray squares of meat McDonald’s uses or whatever Pizza Hut toppings actually are. This shouldn’t just be for vegetarians and vegans; it should be for anyone who cares about better tasting food.