American fast-casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has debuted its first vegan protein option at all UK locations, the company announced via Twitter.
The new “sofritas” is made from crumbled firm tofu that has been braised with traditional sofrito aromatics, including onion, garlic, tomato, green bell pepper, chipotle pepper, and oregano. According to the restaurant, the result is a savory, meaty tofu that is “delectable for both real and accidental vegetarians.”
“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food. Braised tofu is a very different menu item not just for Chipotle, but for any fast food or fast casual restaurant,” Jacob Summer, operations director for Chipotle Europe, told Catering Today. “It was really conceived with vegetarians and vegans in mind, but it’s so delicious that we believe it will have a broad appeal on taste alone. We are proud to be able to serve those looking to avoid meat, or lower their meat intake, with a substantial protein alternative.”
Sofritas can be used in place of meat in any of the fast-casual restaurant’s burritos, tacos, salads, and bowls. Prior to the announcement, the only vegan protein options were black or pinto beans.
Vegans and carnivores unite. Vegan Braised Tofu (Sofritas) is now live in all UK restaurants. P.S. you may question your meathood. pic.twitter.com/udVLMNgloH
— Chipotle UK (@ChipotleUK) July 30, 2018
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Though sofritas have only just arrived in the UK, the spicy tofu was added to the menu of US Chipotle restaurants in 2013 in a bid to appeal to the growing vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian crowd. Due to Chipotle’s efforts to provide ample vegan options amongst its meat and dairy offerings, the company tied for the number one spot on the Good Food Institute’s scorecard for the most vegan-friendly restaurants. Qdoba Mexican Eats, another American fast-casual burrito concept, joined Chipotle on this list.
To help plant-based consumers identify their options, Chipotle provides a clear guide to vegan-friendly menu items on its website. Last February, the fast-casual Mexican chain launched a tool called “Eat to Your Own Beat” to help customers customize their meals to their dietary preferences. That same month, Chipotle announced that it was testing recipes for a vegan quinoa option in order to further diversify its plant-based protein options.
In the US, Chipotle cooks its sofritas using organic, non-GMO tofu from the California-based brand Hodo Foods, but the company has not announced if there is an exclusive supplier for UK restaurants. Sofritas are available at all six of Chipotle’s London locations.
Image Credit: Chipotle