My friend Gigi and I used to love going to Taco Bell together until our tradition was ruined this August when they announced their plan to discontinue potatoes on their menu. Gigi, a long time vegetarian and devote potato taco lover, was clearly upset with Taco Bell’s decision as it limits her vegetarian choices on their famous menu.
Previous to Taco Bell’s discontinuation of potatoes, customers could substitute any meat on the menu with potatoes. This allowed vegetarians, vegans, or any plant based preference customers to enjoy various menu items without ordering meat. Although you can still substitute meat with beans on Taco Bell’s menu today, potatoes were a fan favorite among thousands. After the popular fast food chain announced the ending of potatoes, social media platforms like Twitter blew up with people sharing their heartache and disappointment with Taco Bell. With over 3,000 likes, @zhashx tweeted “every 11:11, every eyelash, every ladybug, shooting star, every coin in every fountain I wish for taco bell to bring back potatoes.” Another viral tweet from @onlineryn says “taco bell potatoes are officially gone be nice to a vegetarian today we’re in mourning.”
Why are so many people upset about Taco Bell’s decision? There has been a rise in vegetarian and vegan lifestyles among Millennials and people in Generation Z, particularly students. In 2018, “there were as many people searching for vegan Thanksgiving recipes as there were people searching for turkey Thankgiving recipes,” studyinternational.com claims. More and more people are choosing to cut meat out of their diets due to personal, ethical, or health reasons. Some wish not to support the killing of animals and some believe they are following a healthier lifestyle without meat.
Even with the increase of vegetarians and vegans across the world, a lot of fast food chains focus their menu items around meat. Therefore, lots of non meat eaters are limited when it comes to eating out, especially at a fast food chain that only offers a few things on their menu. Taco Bell’s potato menu, like their now discontinued Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, became a fan favorite because it allowed for increased options for vegetarian customers. They were not only delicious, but made people who do not eat meat feel included in the “fast food experience,” as my vegetarian friend Gigi tells me.
As the most popular Mexican fast food chain in America, Taco Bell is setting a negative precedent for other popular, cheap fast food chains to remove vegetarian options. This becomes an even bigger issue for non meat eaters who cannot afford meals outside of fast food chains. Their options to purchase a vegetarian meal are further limited because of establishments like Taco Bell that do not promote and support their lifestyle.
Next time you want to enjoy some fast food with friends, consider each person’s dietary preferences. Remember that if you choose Taco Bell, your vegetarian friend will not be able to enjoy a potato taco or a potato loaded griller as they might have enjoyed before.