In a controversial and heartbreaking move, Taco Bell removed all potato items from their menu; they claimed this would make room for more plant-based options, but months later, no such options have been added. As a former regular customer, I’m calling on Taco Bell to bring potatoes back — or at least give us the plant-based items they promised.
Before I begin, I would like to properly honor the fallen heroes of Taco Bell corporate’s irrational decision; the $1 spicy potato soft taco, loaded potato griller, cheesy fiesta potatoes and seasonal nacho fries may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.
These items, each delicious and innovative in their own ways, centered around the best meat alternative Taco Bell had to offer: the extremely versatile and undeniably delicious Taco-Bell-seasoned potato. Since its removal in August, the menu has become a slap in the face to everyone who doesn’t want to choose between meat and beans; yes, there are items like the cheesy roll-up and cheese quesadilla, but there’s no way vegans can justify that amount of dairy cheese.
In a press release, Taco Bell corporate said they were “simplifying” their menu to make room for new fan favorites and make progress in plant-based diet categories; this turned out to be a straight-up lie, as no new plant-based options have been added since the black bean revamp of their vegetarian menu in 2019. Dreams of a Taco Bell collaboration with Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods have yet to come true, even as Burger King offers Impossible Whoppers, McDonalds tests the McPlant and countless other restaurants offer plant-based options.
The new “fan favorites” include a $1 “beef” burrito – Taco Bell admitted their “beef” is only 88 percent beef following a 2011 lawsuit – an absurdly tone-deaf item to introduce during a nationally declining demand for beef and increasing demand for plant-based alternatives. Who asked for a cheap roll of 88 percent “beef” to replace the spicy potato soft taco? I just want to talk.
One night, despite months of stubborn protest, I found myself broke, hungry and missing the Americanized “Mexican” fast food that plagued my late night cravings for years. I decided to give potato-less Taco Bell a shot, to my immediate regret; the experience was a hollow shell of the one I once knew, a shell that should’ve been filled with seasoned potatoes. Yeah, I ate my cheese quesadilla and cinnamon twists, but I thought about my missing potatoes the whole time.
I thought this must be the result of a nationwide potato shortage, but it turns out the opposite is true; farmers have had to destroy literal tons of overstocked potatoes because fast food chains and other potato wholesalers refuse to buy them, citing decreased french fry demand during the pandemic. Taco Bell, who only sells french fries for like 10 minutes at a time, has little to no excuse for stripping these wonderful spuds from its menu boards.
Tell me, Taco Bell, what’s more plant-based than a literal vegetable? Do what’s right and bring potatoes back. If you’re forcing us to eat your so-called “beef,” at least make it plant-based so I can feel good about it being fake.