How To Order Vegetarian & Vegan At Taco Bell

First off, I’m not advocating eating fast food all the time.  It is best left as an occasional thing, but Taco Bell has tons of vegetarian and vegan options when you know what to order.  It is also a really kid-friendly place and great for those days where you’ve just had it and don’t feel like making another meal at home for the kids.  Here are my tips and info on what and how to order at Taco Bell.

General Info

Taco Bell is one of the most vegetarian and vegan fast food restaurants I have found.  That said, it is still fast food.  Even if the corporate headquarters is telling us one thing about the ingredients, it still gets made at your local store and there is no telling for sure what goes into the food.  My point is that your mileage may vary on this, and if you are a super-strict vegan then this probably isn’t the place for you.  According to Taco Bell headquarters, they don’t use lard in things like beans and the basics like corn and flour taco shells are vegan.

One thing to watch out for is the sauces and dressings.  Most have egg and/or milk so they aren’t vegan.  The 3 basic border sauces (mild, medium, & fire) are vegan.

They have a great resources on their website.  They have a table of food allergens and sensitivities which lists egg, dairy, wheat, plus other things like shellfish.  They also have a complete ingredient list of basic components on their website.

On The Menu

First off, there are several items on the menu which are vegetarian and can easily be made vegan.  Parenthesis indicate steps to make it vegan.

  • Guacamole
  • Cinnamon Twists
  • Mexican Rice
  • Tostada (no cheese)
  • Seven Layer Burrito (no cheese, no sour cream)
  • Bean Burrito (no cheese)
  • Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes (no cheese)
  • Pintos ‘N Cheese (no cheese)
  • Cheese Quesadilla (not vegan)
  • Cheesy Nachos (not vegan)

Off The Menu – Sub Beans

You can also order almost anything on the menu and have them substitute beans instead of beef.  I usually am redundant in ordering things this way.  Say “no meat, with beans instead of beef” for example on a regular crunchy taco.  The hard and soft tacos can be ordered this way, plus anything else that strikes you on the menu.  This should be a standard substitution that any Taco Bell can handle.  I believe they have a button on the cash register for substituting the beef with beans.  I have never had a problem at the different Taco Bells I have tried and most cashiers don’t seem to have any difficulty with it and take it right in stride.

Fresco Is Your Friend

They have a term called “fresco” which is used on their healthy and lowfat menu line which they also refer to as the “drive-thru diet”.  It basically means no cheese and add “fiesta salsa” which is simply diced tomato and a tiny bit of diced onion.  This is the easiest way to order things vegan – by substituting beans for beef where necessary, and then saying fresco style.

Putting It All Together

I like to start out setting the expectation with “there should be no meat in anything we order” and then proceed from there.  A few of my favorites are “crunchy tacos, no meat, substitute beans for the beef, fresco style” and the very simple “fresco bean burrito”.  I usually add a side or two of guacamole for dipping the tacos too.  Yumm, I’m getting hungry now!  Any thoughts or experience on eating vegan or vegetarian at Taco Bell?

4 thoughts on “How To Order Vegetarian & Vegan At Taco Bell

  1. M

    Just be warned, not all taco bell locations substitute beans. I work at a taco bell and we don’t have whats called a “SBSB” button (which means sans beef sub. Beans). At ours we must ring it up minus beef add beans and this is considered an upcharge (which means extra money) even if there is no beef on it. This is because individual franchises are allowed to price as they like.

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  2. Pingback: Frugal Friday — Taco Bell Cantina Menu | Without Bacon: The Herbivore's Dilemma

  3. Julianne

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but mine was just burst yesterday when I learned the refried beans are not veggie friendly. They contain lard. At the store, you have to buy your refried beans with the ‘vegetarian’ label for a reason. Trust me, I’m heart broken! No more Taco Bell for me :o ( I used to sub beans on everything..

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  4. jessiemail04jess

    From the websites ingredients statement:

    BEANS
    Pinto Beans, Soy Oil (Trans Fat Free Shortening With TBHQ And Citric Acid To Protect Flavor), Seasoning Blend (Salt, Sugar, Spice, Beet Powder [Color], Autolyzed Yeast Extract (Contains Gluten), Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin [Corn, Potato, Tapioca], Inactivated Yeast, Corn Flour, Natural Flavors, Trehalose, Modified Corn Starch And Less Than 2% Silicone Dioxide As A Processing Aid). CONTAINS: GLUTEN

    BLACK BEANS
    Water, Black Beans, Onion, Canola Oil, Flavor (Filtered Water, Yeast Extract, Dextrose, Salt, Corn Starch, Corn Oil, Flavoring, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder And Turmeric), Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Chili Powder (Chili Peppers, Spices, Garlic And Silicon Dioxide (Free Flow Agent)), Granulated Garlic, Granulated Onion, Chili Powder (A Blend Of Chili Peppers With Not More Than 2% Silicon Dioxide Added To Prevent Caking).

    http://www.tacobell.com/nutrition/ingredientstatement

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