Many restaurants are recognizing that they need to have tasty vegan options to appeal to those who are already vegan or vegetarian. They are also hoping to entice meat-eaters to give these options a try. The latest restaurant chains to add vegan meat substitutes include Donatos Pizza and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Donatos Pizza is introducing Vegan Pepperoni at nearly 170 locations nationwide, including right here in the northwest. The family owned pizza brand announced the new plant-based pepperoni launch this month in partnership with the plant-based meat brand, Field Roast. It all came about from a desire for the Donatos team to find a way to help their customers achieve their New Year’s resolutions. A lot of people aspire to eat more veggies, so Donatos Pizza decided to roll out plant-based pepperoni as an easy substitute for animal-based pepperoni.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, known for its use of organic ingredients and naturally raised meat, has announced that it is making a major stride toward leading the fast-food industry into vegan territory. Chipotle stores throughout the Pacific Northwest will begin selling Sofritas – shredded, organic tofu braised with chipotle chiles and roasted poblanos, served in burritos, tacos or bowls, priced at about $6.50. “Nearly one in three people who order the dish in California aren’t vegans – but are trying to cut down on meat for ethical or health reasons,” says Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold.
Until now the vegan dish has only been offered in its California locations. Now, it’s extending the rollout into its restaurants in Oregon, Washington and Vancouver, Canada. And, if it’s a hit, the vegan rollout could eventually go national to all 1,450 of its restaurants. Sofritas were initially sold in January at seven Chipotle restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. They expanded to Southern California, and now to all 33 Chipotle locations in the Pacific Northwest. “We’re considering additional markets this fall,” says Chipotle CEO Steve Ells, who says the biggest issue is supply. He says that Sofritas already account for 5% of sales in its California stores.
Not to be outdone, our favorite local Mexican restaurant, Gorditos in the Greenwood section of Seattle, offers a tofu Burrito Grande and a tofu Fajita Plate. Pepinos in Portland also offers a tofu burrito and, talk about east meets west, Thai burritos (they even have occasional specials such as teriyaki and curry burritos).