Taco Bell Testing Plant-Based Naked Chicken Chalupa

As plant-based meat alternatives grow in popularity, restaurants across the country have been working to expand their menus to deliver more vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. Among those is Taco Bell and while the chain's menu already offers quite a few vegetarian options, they're testing a brand-new item that may just shake up the so-called chicken sandwich wars. Taco Bell is testing a plant-based Naked Chicken Chalupa, appropriately named the Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell.

As its name implies the Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell takes its inspiration from the recently-released Naked Chicken Chalupa, just in a veggie-friendly option. This plant-based innovation features the new shell -- which is made from a pea protein-based proprietary blend that is breaded, shaped into the unique Chalupa form, and then crisped to order -- and then filled with lettuce, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, and a flavorful avocado ranch sauce. As is the case with many Taco Bell menu items, customers can customize their order ingredients to make the item truly vegan as the special shell has been certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association.

"We've long been a food disruptor, and this time is no different," said Liz Matthews, Taco Bell's Global Chief Food Innovation Officer. "We've seen our industry follow patterns of sameness, but we understand that consumers are looking for creativity and craveability in this space. So whether someone is craving plant-based protein or crispy chicken or gooey cheesiness, we have something that's not only flavorful but also uniquely Taco Bell."

This isn't the first time Taco Bell has tested a plant-based option. Earlier this year, the chain tested the Cravetarian Taco, a vegetarian version of their Crunchy Taco Supreme with a proprietary plant-based meat alternative made from a blend of peas and chickpeas made in the chain's test kitchen. That menu item was tested in one location at the time and that is the case for the Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell as well. The Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell is testing at only one Taco Bell location (2222 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, California) until June 27th while supplies last. The menu item is priced at $3.49 plus tax.

Are you interested in the Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell? What other plant-based menu items would you like to see Taco Bell try? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or hit up our writer @lifeinpolaroid on Twitter to chat about all things food, comics, and more!