Fast-casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has introduced new protein-packed vegan “Lifestyle Bowls” nationwide.
The new plant-powered bowl features brown rice, black beans, tomato and corn salsa, lettuce, and Chipotle’s signature “sofritas” – crumbled tofu marinated in a spicy chile sauce. There is also a vegetarian option, which has fajita veggies, brown rice, pinto beans, tomato and corn salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.
The meatless options add to Chipotle’s successful Lifestyle Bowls launched earlier this year. While the Mexican-inspired has offered customizable burrito bowls for years, CEO Brian Nicchol told Business Insider last January that many customers were unaware of the vegan option: “When you ask people ‘Did you know we had carnitas, barbacoa, or sofritas?’ a lot of people are like, what is that?”
Mexican-Inspired Chains Bet on Plant-Based Protein
According to Chipotle, sofritas are a popular item despite lack of consumer awareness. In 2018, the chain served 7.5 million pounds of the spicy tofu, which is supplied by Oakland, Calif.-based brand Hodo Foods.
“We’ve found that many people are increasingly looking for plant-based protein options, so we wanted to make it easy for our customers with digital shortcuts for these bowls,” Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer of Chipotle, said in a statement. “Since introducing Sofritas five years ago, Chipotle has provided flavorful options for every lifestyle, while simultaneously doing something good for the planet.”
The chain may also serve vegan seafood in the future – last January, the chain selected plant-based seafood brand Sophie’s Kitchen as one of eight companies in its first accelerator program, the Chipotle Aluminaries Project.
Chipotle isn’t the only Mexican-inspired chain to introduce plant-based protein options in response to rising consumer demand. Last September, Del Taco tested Beyond Meat vegan crumbles at two LA locations. By December, 21 restaurants introduced Beyond Meat tacos and burritos.
Quesada Burritos & Tacos, a Mexican-inspired chain headquartered in Toronto, rolled out Beyond Meat’s Feisty Crumbles to nearly 120 locations across Canada. “More of our customers are identifying as flexitarians and requesting plant-based options so we’re thrilled to be Canada’s first Mexican chain to offer the Beyond Meat Burrito,” said Steve Gill, Quesada’s founder and chief recipe officer.
Chipotle’s new vegan Lifestyle Bowl is available now.