It even comes with tortilla chip strips to hint at those crunchy edible taco salad bowls!

Karla Walsh
January 19, 2021
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Instagram / @traderjoeslist
| Credit: Instagram / @traderjoeslist

"Everything is coming up vegan this January and I am here for it!"

That's one fan's response after seeing the newest toss-and-serve salad mix to hit Trader Joe's: The Vegan Taco Salad Kit.

Spotted by @traderjoes_hypechick at her local Los Angeles store and shared by @traderjoeslist on Instagram, the package boasts: "Trader Joe's Vegan Taco Salad Kit has the components that make taco salad what it is, but in a completely vegan way. Seitan, a meat substitute made of vital wheat gluten, is flavored with chipotle so you'll never miss the meat."

It appears to be part of the overall TJ's initiative to lean into many things meat-free, and comes right on the heels of the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe's podcast that revealed the crew members' current 5 favorite plant-based products. (It might be time to add a sixth now!)

Although the wheat gluten that makes the chipotle-seasoned seitan taste beefy makes this salad kit not a good fit for anyone eating gluten-free, it does mean that each serving of the quick-fix salad packs in 8 grams of protein. That's more than an egg and about as much as you'd find in 1 ounce of cooked ground beef. Craving more vegan protein? Check out how to bake up a batch of homemade seitan or toss in a scoop of black beans.

That meat substitute joins romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, a dairy-free spicy jalapeño ranch-style dressing and purple tortilla chips (so you can skip the whole taco shell scenario, which ends up crumbling and making a huge mess whenever we try to eat it anyway!).

Each bag includes five servings, each of which has 120 calories, 7 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, 8 grams of protein and 240 milligrams of sodium. Just 40 of those milligrams of sodium come from the dressing, which is quite impressive compared to traditional store-bought ranch dressings that often pack in more than 250 milligrams for 2 tablespoons alone.

If you're eating this salad kit for a meal, feel free to eat two or three servings and add a scoop of beans or extra seitan to make it a more filling option. Or, enjoy as a side salad with a vegan BLAT sandwich or bowl of vegan lentil soup —yum!

If you're not vegan and want to beef up the protein content, you could also try this idea from an Instagram commenter: "Had last night; just took out that meat substitute and sautéed beef with [a] taco seasoning packet." And if you don't have a TJ's visit planned soon or don't have a location near you, try our 5-star Vegetarian Taco Salad or this satisfying Lentil Taco Salad instead.