Panera Bread and Taco Bell Won't Add Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods to Their Menus—and for Good Reason
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Restaurant chains across the country, from massive fast-food joints to upscale steakhouses, are adding Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meat products to their menus. In 2019, Burger King, Del Taco, Red Robin, Carl's Jr., Qdoba, and Little Caesars all announced the addition of Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods products to their menus. But in the wake of this faux-meat craze, two major food chains say they will not be joining in (and for good reason!)
Executives from both Panera Bread and Taco Bell told Business Insider they don't see a need for Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods products because their companies have spent years developing delicious plant-based options of their own using real plant-based proteins.
Taco Bell is actually certified by the American Vegetarian Association, and has spent the last few years developing a brand-new vegetarian menu that will debut this fall. But vegetarians and vegans have been able to order off Taco Bell's menu for years-and their website has a section for consumers to easily find vegetarian options.
"Fans can simply remove meat and add beans to any of our menu items without compromising on flavor," a representative from Taco Bell Corporate told EatingWell. "We're also testing an in-restaurant vegetarian menu featuring our two plant-based and certified vegan proteins: refried pinto beans and black beans. It is important for us to provide our customers with food that fits their lifestyles, so we keep an eye on trends and the plant-based category is no exception."
Panera Bread has also been providing consumers with plant-based options for decades. In the past few years, the company has prioritized the use of only "clean ingredients," meaning all of their offerings are made without artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors and colors. While none of the ingredients in Beyond Meat or Impossible Burgers make the company's "no-no list," Panera execs aren't exactly oohing and ahhing over these processed foods.
"We continue to see our customers really looking for...that whole food solution, and we're continuing to lean into that," Sara Burnett, Panera's vice president of wellness and food policy, told Business Insider. "Because hands down, we have the best pantry, I think, of anyone in the industry."
And Panera does have a pretty impressive lineup of healthy vegetarian and vegan options. From a hearty Vegan Lentil-Quinoa Broth Bowl to their Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich, we can see why an Impossible Burger wouldn't exactly fit in with these offerings.
We've done some digging of our own into whether or not these faux 'meat' products are healthy for us, and the only benefit they may really have is on the environment-not our personal health. We think you're better off enjoying a bean burrito or cozy bowl of soup instead!