Troy Warren for CNT #Foodie
It’s the brand’s first new meat-free protein option in eight years.
For any vegans, vegetarians, or flexitarians worried that 2022 might be the year the plant-based meat trend finally slowed down, well, we’re just one weekday into the year and one of America’s most popular chains already has a big announcement: Chipotle Mexican Grill is taking plant-based chorizo nationwide.
The burrito chain first began testing this vegan chorizo option in August, looking to add a slightly more modern plant-based choice alongside their tofu-based sofritas that was added in 2014. The company says that after digging through customer feedback from those trials in Denver and Indianapolis, they’re now ready to launch plant-based chorizo at participating locations across the country.
“We are thrilled to introduce guests to our new, flavor-packed Plant-Based Chorizo during a season when healthier options are top of mind,” Chris Brandt, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer, said in a tacit nod to Veganuary and similar campaigns. “Plant-Based Chorizo is our best chorizo ever and proves that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to enjoy a vegan or vegetarian protein.”
To clarify, that “best chorizo ever” statement alludes to Chipotle’s previous menu item — traditional chicken and pork-based chorizo — which was added as a permanent protein choice in 2016 but then pulled in 2017 after reportedly less-than-stellar sales.
This time around, Chipotle’s vegan chorizo is “made using all real, fresh ingredients grown on a farm, not in a lab,” according to the company — namely, “chipotle peppers, ripe tomato paste, crushed garlic, Spanish smoked paprika, and extra virgin olive oil [combined] with natural protein from freshly grown peas.” The result is “certified vegan, packed with 16 grams of protein per 4-ounce serving, and is made without artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, grains, gluten, or soy.”
“Creating a delicious plant-based protein that sizzles on the grill with the robust flavor and texture profile chorizo-lovers expect was a real challenge,” Nevielle Panthaky, Chipotle’s vice president of culinary, stated in the announcement. “Our culinary team has worked relentlessly for years to develop this breakthrough Plant-Based Chorizo recipe that is uniquely Chipotle and aligns with the brand’s industry-leading Food with Integrity standards.”
To highlight this new protein, Chipotle is also launching a new line of “Lifestyle Bowls powered by Plant-Based Chorizo” including a Whole30 Salad Bowl, a Vegetarian Bowl, and a cheese-free Vegan Bowl — all of which are “available exclusively on the Chipotle app and Chipotle.com.” The chain is also offering $0 delivery on “all Plant-Based Chorizo orders placed on the Chipotle app or Chipotle.com from January 3 through January 9” and all Lifestyle Bowls ordered from January 3 through January 31, 2022.
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