Chipotle’s new vegan tofu sofritas | Emerald Media

 

Last week, a Huffington Post blogger proposed that the majority of America will be vegan by 2050. Preposterous? A little. Impossible? You know, maybe not.

Cutting out meat, fish, diary and eggs is not easy to begin with, but in the past few years it has become easier and easier to switch to a vegan diet thanks to the tremendous boost in popularity. Six months ago, the Eugene Chipotle released their first new menu item, tofu sofritas, for all of its vegetarian and vegan fans.

“The sofritas is extremely popular,” said Sarah Lar Rieu, a Chipotle employee. “People come in all the time and say they’ve heard something cool about the new item we’re offering.”

In addition to phasing out bacon from their refried beans recipe, the fast-food chain has introduced a spicy crumbled tofu. It’s growing in popularity, but still not available in all fifty states. As of now, sofritas are only available in 21 states and a few select cities. The vegetarian in me—which is coincidentally just the normal me—rejoiced! As soon as I heard the good news, I felt a burrito-sized hole in my stomach. And it must be filled.

The sofritas is a little unappetizing to look at while it’s in front of you at the counter, but as it turns into that amazing, tortilla-wrapped miracle in front of my very eyes, all of my worries disappear. I’m trusting you with this one, Chipotle.

Overall, vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike seem to enjoy Chipotle’s new addition.

“I want to wrap myself up in that burrito,” UO psychology senior Bianca Marino said. Marino has been 80% vegan for the last nine months. ”But now that I think about it, the Chipotle sofritas isn’t the best vegetarian burrito I’ve had.”

Remarkably, Marino claims the best vegetarian burrito is at Hamilton dining hall’s Big Mouth Burrito.

Jake Haener, a UO human physiology senior and Marino’s omnivore boyfriend, enjoyed the sofritas burrito as well, but agreed that the texture was less than desirable.

Overall, it was delicious, but I see room for improvement. In the spirit of optimism, let’s discuss the pros first.

Pros:

The tofu is everything you want in a tofu option. Not too squishy or too firm; not at all bland. A lot of people criticize tofu for being bland, but I like to think it’s like that friend we all have that’s into whatever you’re into—it takes on the flavors and seasonings of whatever it’s in. Chipotle’s webpage dedicated to sofritas says it’s seasoned with “chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices.”

Chipotle is becoming more and more locally sourced. “Both the meat and the tofu are locally sourced from within the state,” said Lar Rieu.

It’s not a meat imitator. Personally, this is a pro. It would be easy for Chipotle to go the route of imitation meats such as MorningStar or Boca and use a chicken-flavored seitan, but this is more of a matter of opinion. I dislike “chicken-flavored” things because it tends to make me compare it to the real thing, and to be honest, it’s probably not as good.

Cons:

Texturally, to tofu falls short. The crumbled tofu gets lost, indistinguishable between the beans and rice. I personally think that it would be pretty successful as tofu cubes rather than crumbled.

As opposed to the vegetables-only vegetarian burrito, guacamole is not a free addition to the sofritas burrito. A tragic loss.

I’m excited that Chipotle is inclusive to the growing demographic of non-meat eaters. It’s a smart marketing move and a good way to build a customer loyalty in vegetarians. Let’s just see how other fast food chains step up to Chipotle’s game.