Vegan News of the Week: Taco Bell's Veg Value Meal, Impossible Corn Dogs, and More

This week, Meati’s steaks and chicken breasts are coming to Target stores for all your vegan meat shopping needs. While you’re out shopping, Kellogg’s has new cereals made just for health-conscious Gen Zers.

Slutty Vegan customers in New York and Dallas just got a sneak peek of an Impossible Corn Dog. 

And Taco Bell is giving us the value meal we’ve always dreamed of with the Veggie Build-Your-Own Cravings Box. 

Vegan food news

Mycelium meat—made from the root systems of mushrooms—is all the rage and this week, Meati’s vegan steaks and chicken cutlets are hitting select Super Targets before rolling out at Target nationwide. 

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With this rollout, Meati—which is also available at other retailers, including Whole Foods Market—aims to increase its retail presence to more than 8,000 stores by mid-2024. The company’s high repurchase rates, reaching up to 60 percent, underscore the growing consumer demand for its products. 

“Achieving a retail footprint of 8,000 stores within our first 18 months in the market is a testament to how Meati Foods delivers what consumers want—whole-food, nutritious, delicious options,” Scott Tassani, Meati’s President and COO, said in a statement.

“Meati MushroomRoot is unlocking an entirely new eating experience that puts health first without compromising on flavor or clean and minimal ingredients, and we are honored to have Target join us on this journey as our newest partner,” Tassani said. 

If you’re getting your shopping list together, you’ll be pleased to know that Laughing Cow’s vegan cheese wedges are finally coming to Whole Foods Markets nationwide. The new Laughing Cow Plant-Based in Garlic & Herb offers the same creamy, spreadable cheese experience as the dairy version but in an almond milk-based format.

“We’ve spent months perfecting the recipe for The Laughing Cow Plant-Based and are equally excited for this product to hit shelves now, as we are for consumers across the country to try it,” Zach Fatla, Brand Director of The Laughing Cow, said in a statement. “This launch marks a new step for the brand, and we look forward to sharing the deliciousness of The Laughing Cow with a whole new audience.” 

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Currently, The Laughing Cow Plant-Based in Garlic & Herb is available exclusively at Whole Foods for $4.49. This spring, the Original flavor will join Garlic & Herb in expanding to Kroger stores and other retailers nationwide. The Laughing Cow is exploring additional flavors, including spicy options, expected by 2025. 

If you’re a Trader Joe’s shopper, you can probably sympathize with the store’s limited supply of vegan kimbap. If learning how to make your own is not in the cards, South Korea’s Unlimeat is expanding the distribution of its kimbap to New York City’s Brooklyn Fair and Orchard Grocer. There, you can find the brand’s frozen kimbap, featuring plant-based Bulgogi or Tuna, which is designed for convenience and taste, remaining fresh and crisp for up to 12 months. 

This expansion is part of Unlimeat’s broader strategy to make its diverse range of K-vegan products, including its popular mandu and gluten-free Chapssaruni cake, more accessible to American consumers.

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Homegrown legacy brand Kellogg’s has some new cereals up its sleeve in the new year. The company just launched a novel cereal line named “Eat Your Mouth Off” in a significant departure from traditional sugary cereals. 

The flavors, Fruity and Chocolate, in the plant-based line are specifically designed to appeal to health-conscious millennial and Gen Z consumers who seek nutritious yet delicious breakfast options. 

This line is part of Kellogg’s strategy to diversify its portfolio and adapt to shifting consumer preferences towards healthier foods. 

Vegan health news

NYC residents are getting a healthy start to the new year with the expansion of the Lifestyle Medicine Program to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, marking the first time the program has been available in Queens. Spearheaded by Mayor Eric Adams, the program prioritizes lifestyle changes—such as plant-based diets, exercise, and stress reduction—for optimal health. 

In other health news, there’s a new study that gives millennials something to be excited about.

The new study has found that eating nuts reduces metabolic syndrome risk. Conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the study involved 84 young adults aged 22 to 36 (which represents both younger millennials and part of Gen Z). 

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It demonstrated that incorporating one ounce of mixed unsalted tree nuts twice daily leads to notable health improvements, including a reduced waist circumference in females and decreased blood insulin levels in males. Additionally, both genders showed improved lipid biomarkers. 

Vegan restaurant news

It’s the start of a new year and we’re on the lookout for new dining experiences. Enter Kusaki, a sushi bar in Los Angeles that just reopened with a reimagined menu. Celebrating its grand return after a four-month hiatus, Kusaki arrives just in time for Veganuary, offering a first-of-its-kind plant-based omakase experience in the city.

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The restaurant now features a Kaiseki-influenced menu, reflecting the epitome of Japanese haute cuisine with a series of small plates, fresh seasonal ingredients, and an artistic presentation. 

Among the new offerings are Maitake Wontons, Watermelon Granita Nigiri, and Seared Bell Pepper Nigiri, complementing the original favorites like Crispy Garlic Tuna Sashimi and Trumpet Mushroom Nigiri. 

The experience is complete with an expanded bar and a sleek, minimalist interior that creates a serene, artful dining atmosphere. 

Also in Los Angeles, Sundays will soon be all about vegan West African food thanks to highly acclaimed chef Shenarri Freeman. Hopping coasts from her New York City-based Cadence kitchen, the chef will be kicking off a new Soul Food Sundays series at her West Hollywood spot Ubuntu this Sunday, January 14. 

On the menu, expect to find Southern Fried Lasagna; Biscuits & Gravy with a unique blend of porcini mushrooms, carrots, and vegan buttermilk; Fried Oyster Mushrooms & Waffles; and Maple Buttermilk Cornbread accompanied by sage maple syrup and jam. 

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Let us not forget that January means we are still in full Veganuary mode and there are a few exciting partnerships to report. Dynamic vegan duo Bosh has partnered with popular chain Costa Coffee to introduce a range of animal-free food options to Costa’s 2,600 branches. 

This includes vegan-friendly items like the Smashin’ Sausage Bap and Double Chocolate Cookie, marking a significant step in making plant-based options more accessible in mainstream coffee shops. 

Also for Veganuary, Hellmann’s is partnering with some of Canada’s meatiest barbecue restaurants to feature vegan options. These joints, including Toronto’s Barque Smokehouse and Beach Hill Smokehouse, as well as Calgary’s Jane Bond BBQ, will showcase dishes using Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo. 

Created with Chef Matthew Ravenscroft, the menu includes innovative plant-based dishes such as the Nashville Hot King Oyster Mushroom Sandwich and Dry-Rubbed Mushroom Brisket. 

“Incorporating more plant-based eating into your diet doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste,” Ravenscroft said. “With its versatility and flavor, Hellmann’s Vegan Mayo is my go-to for marinades, spreads, and dips—it has the same great taste, just plant-based.” 

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Stateside, Taco Bell is giving us something to celebrate during Veganuary and beyond with its new value meal—that, like much of its menu, is easy to make fully vegan. Called the Veggie Build-Your-Own-Cravings Box, the $5.99 meal includes a choice of a specialty item, classic item, side, and drink. 

“Value has always been at the cornerstone of what we offer at Taco Bell, but we knew heading into this new year we wanted to take it to the next level,”  Taylor Montgomery, Chief Marketing Officer, said in a statement.

“As our consumers are looking for more ways to save, we’re committed to expanding on our value offerings through new menu items and digital offerings that deliver quality and abundance,” Montgomery said.

For a fully vegan meal, select from options such as the Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme and Black Bean Chalupa, omitting dairy-based ingredients such as sour cream and cheese. The Bean Burrito, Spicy Potato Soft Taco, or Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito can also be made vegan by removing cheese and specific sauces. 

Sides such as the Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes can be veganized by excluding sour cream and nacho cheese sauce, while Cinnamon Twists are vegan as-is. The meal comes with a medium fountain drink.

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While we are still in the first month of the year, we already know 2024 is going to be great. How? Earlier this month, Slutty Vegan gave its customers in Dallas and NYC a first taste of the upcoming Impossible Corn Dog—the company’s new plant-based beef hot dog covered in corn batter. Slutty Vegan calls it “The Glizzy” and we can’t wait to get a bite.

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