Eating out as a vegan can sometimes be tricky, but Chipotle is planning to make life a little simpler for vegans everywhere. On Monday, Chipotle became the first national food chain to offer a vegan meal other than the monotonous garden salad or veggie burger. The new dish, Sofritas, first appeared in January for a test run in Chipotle’s San Francisco locations and it was immediately successful. According to Chipotle Spokesperson Chris Arnold, the Sofritas dish, of which the main ingredient is spiced, shredded organic tofu, “already accounts for 4-5 percent of sales” in Bay Area restaurants.
Due to its popularity during the test period, Sofritas is now widely available at Chipotles in Oregon, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. Eventually, the dish will be available in all 1,450 locations.
With this new menu item, Chipotle is hoping to increase the business of vegan/vegetarian customers as well as encourage those who usually eat meat to try a new, healthier option. When paired with veggies and brown rice in a combination bowl, Sofritas contains 50 calories less (425) than the chicken or carnitas meal (425), but significantly less cholesterol and saturated fat than the meat options. If toppings like cheese and sour cream are avoided, it is a relatively healthy meal option and certainly better than other fast food options.
Although few Americans follow a strictly vegan diet, the Harris pole reported that 47% eat at least one vegetarian meal every week. With national chains like Chipotle warming up to plant-based diets, this healthy and encouraging number will continue to rise.