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Fast food fit for a vegan

Chipotle Mexican Grill, to give the fast food chain its full title, added a new menu item this month. Hardly groundbreaking culinary news except that this funny, frilly named item, Sofritas, is vegan.

Chipotle's new Sofritas option is made out of braised, non-GMO tofu. Chipotle's new Sofritas option is made out of braised, non-GMO tofu.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, to give the fast food chain its full title, added a new menu item this month. Hardly groundbreaking culinary news except that this funny, frilly named item, Sofritas, is vegan. Clearly it’s not enough that Chipotle already has a veggie option for those pesky animal-loving health nuts. Now they’ve gone and added Sofritas, which is made using Hodo Soy, an organic and therefore non-GMO tofu. The tofu is shredded and braised with chipotle chilies, roasted poblano peppers and a blend of spices (a nice dash of cumin and coriander seeds seem to be in that blend, but that’s just a guess). A sofrito is a base spice mix in Latin cooking, hence the name?

Sofritas sits on the menu alongside pork, chicken, beef and veggie on Chipotle’s build-your-own burrito, tacos, salad or bowls, which are the burrito’s insides without the flour tortilla (thus it's gluten-free). Compared to the veggie burritos, which can be vegan by avoiding the cheese and sour cream, Sofritas is much tastier. It also has a better texture — almost chicken-y. The veggie, which adds guacamole to the array of filling choices, is a bit gushy and a bit bland — even with the hot salsa.

Chipotle, which opened in 1993 and now spans this land with 1,600 restaurants, several of which dot the Greater Boston area, previously added a vegan item called Garden Blend. Frankly, that sounds dull and granny-like and it may well have been: it was unsuccessful and axed.

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According to the website and a rep, Chipotle attempts to use only naturally raised meat and dairy from pasture-grazed cows, all of which is kinder than factory farming. While some avoid meat for humane reasons, many self and health fixated urbanites are more concerned about their own well-being and believe health is better achieved with a plant-based diet. They could be on to something…

If all this Sofritas nonsense weren’t enough, a printout taped to the counter at the Fresh Pond Chipotle declares that their pinto beans are no longer cooked with bacon and join the vegetarian black beans as meatless. Another blow to the freedom of the meat eater? (Hint: They taste perfectly fine without the pork.)

Chipotle Mexican Grill
Entrees: $6.45-$7.25
Central Square, Harvard Square, Fresh Pond, Summer Street, and more
www.chipotle.com

 
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