Karley Cicale, FISM News
Chipotle, the casual fast-food restaurant known for its bowls loaded with steak, chicken, and pork, is on its way to jumping on the meatless-meat bandwagon, because, regardless of what the diet trend of the day is, there’s one thing that never changes; everybody loves meat. Yes, everybody. Even if it’s not an animal product, vegan meat formulas are continuously being experimented with and refined to give vegetarians and vegans the satisfying alternative they crave.
The chain announced Thursday that it’s testing an all-new, plant-based meat option: Plant-Based Chorizo. The new option will be pea protein based, packed with 20g of protein, and according to Chipotle, it “is free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives and is made without grains, gluten, or soy.” Restaurants in Denver and Indianapolis will be the first to crowd-test this verified vegan menu choice. As an added incentive, the company is offering free delivery for anyone in these areas who order the plant-based chorizo from the app or online between August 19 to August 29.
Chipotle is obviously not the first to add meatless options to their menu, and will surely not be the last. The chain is riding the wave of steadily rising consumer interest in more sustainable and healthy options. In 2019, Dunkin Donuts beat Starbucks by a few months in joining the craze, when they added their “Beyond Sausage” breakfast sandwich. Starbucks added the “Impossible Breakfast Sandwich” soon after, partnering with the company Impossible Meats. It was reported in March of 2021 that McDonalds would also partner with the Impossible brand and released their new “McPlant Burger.” McDonald’s tested a similar sandwich using Beyond Meat in Canada in 2019. Burger King has also had some success with Impossible Meat with their “Impossible Whopper”.
There is debate as to whether meatless-meats are actually the smarter, healthier protein choice. Is a highly processed, multi-ingredient product REALLY better than a simple cut of meat? In some of the substitutes meant to mimic beef, saturated fats have proven to be high – otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy that “meaty” texture and taste of red meat. Sodium is another concern. Plant based burgers can contain more than 500mg of sodium. Add a bun, cheese, and fries to that and you’re not doing any better than the guy getting the traditional burger and fries. Additionally, these processed faux-meats require extra attention to detail if you are sensitive to any types of allergens, as they may contain, things like soy, gluten, wheat, nuts and milk proteins.
But even if you’re not vegan and are attempting to cheat the system by having your burger and fries without the guilt, it can be a fun experience to test out these options and see if your taste buds can be tricked. If you’re not willing to stake your lunch on whether or not you’ll love dressed up pea protein, you could always take a stroll through your local grocery store and have a look at the rapidly expanding selection of meatless pizza bites, burgers, hotdogs, and beyond to see if anything whets your curiosity and your appetite.