Fast Food Finally Goes Vegan

chipotle sofritas vegan sandwich tofu

Certain fast-food chains cater to meatless diets: Burger King’s menu boasts a veggie burger, and certain Subway shops offer something similar. (For those looking for a slightly less-processed meal, most such express eateries offer some sort of salad, and Subway will basically make you a salad on a loaf of bread.) But for the eggs- and dairy-free among us, trips to homogenous chain restaurants have been out of the question: those flesh-free patties aren’t vegan. As vegetarianism (and its weird cousin veganism) gain an ever more prominent position in our eating culture, though, good business sense dictates that more national brands accommodate such dietary philosophies.

Enter Chipotle, which for the last year has been slowly rolling out a new vegan sandwich, the Village Voice reports: “Sofritas—an organic shredded tofu braised with chipotle chiles, roasted poblano peppers, and a blend of spices.” On Monday, it’ll be available in New York and Boston shortly before a national rollout. (It was first offered in San Francisco and has since expanded to other test markets.) After experimenting and failing with a number of vegetarian and vegan options, the company finally hit on this one, which it hopes will attract not just those living a die-hard vegetarian lifestyle but also those just looking to lose a little meat from their diets—the sorts of people who seem to be driving the growth in vegetarian menu options, according to multiple interviews with local chefs and restaurateurs I recently conducted for a different, soon-to-be-published article.

Driven by concerns for sustainable agriculture and the humane treatment of its meat sources, Chipotle has long been looking to distance itself from McDonald’s, which owned a controlling stake in the company before divesting in 2006. Perhaps, however, this new move could drive McDonald’s to want to associate with Chipotle: if the Sofritas proves popular, it could push other chains into adopting more menu items that don’t include the tortured muscle tissue of farm animals.

At present, there are two Chipotles in Brooklyn: one on Court Street, near Atlantic Avenue; the other on Montague Street. Another is set to open soon at 1 Metrotech in Downtown Brooklyn. Manhattan boasts many locations.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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