Thanks to all the vegan offerings cropping up at fast food chains around the country lately, it’s never been easier to order plant-based meals when you’re at the drive-thru or out and about.
Forever ahead of the curve, Chipotle has been vegan-friendly for years now. In fact, their sofritas (spicy shredded and braised tofu) have been a vegan mainstay since being officially introduced in 2013. Now, you can also order their Vegan Bowl (one of their new Lifestyle Bowls), which is packed with sofritas, brown rice, black beans, and more.
Even without the sofritos, though, eating a balanced, satisfying vegan meal at Chipotle is pretty darn easy. I mean, you can even put a “vegan” filter on their online nutrition calculator.
Whether you opt for a salad, burrito, or tacos, you can stuff your order with flavors from vegan add-ins like chipotle corn salsa, seasoned brown rice, pico de gallo, and Chipotle’s famous guacamole. You won’t even miss the queso, barbacoa, or carnitas.
And even if going chorizo-free does take some getting used to, the perks of eating more plants make the process totally worth it. Research suggest plant-based diets support lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and may decrease risk of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. (And don’t get me started on the environmental benefits.)
So, are you sold on making your next Chipotle order a vegan one? Here’s everything you can order.
If you prefer to eat your Chipotle with your hands, you’re in luck: The crispy corn tortillas and flour tortillas used to make their tacos are 100 percent vegan, as is the jumbo flour tortilla used to make their tortillas.
Made by braising tofu with all sorts of goodness, like chilis, garlic, onion, and tomato paste, Chipotle’s sofritas are the obvious go-to filling for vegan eaters.
Despite some skepticism around soy products, minimally-processed soy foods (like tofu) can be beneficial for your overall health.
Unless you have a soy allergy or sensitivity, there’s no reason to sweat a couple of servings of soy per day.
Vegans can go for either the cilantro-lime white rice or cilantro-lime brown rice at Chipotle, but if your goal is to boost your fiber intake, go for the brown.
“Brown rice is considered a whole grain because it contains both the bran and germ of the grain,” says Ali Webster, PhD, RD, director of research and nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council. (White rice has had the bran and germ removed.)
Whole grains are higher in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals (like phosphorus, magnesium and manganese) than their processed counterparts.
Chipotle offers black beansand pinto beans, both of which are seasoned to perfection and great additions to vegan orders.
Beans are rich in satiating complex carbohydrates and fiber, which supports healthy cholesterol and promotes satiety and a healthy digestive tract.
They also offer protein, if you’re not feeling the sofritas. (Though beans aren’t considered a “complete protein” (with all the essential amino acids you’d find in meat) on their own, a beans-brown rice combo is considered one.)
Before you jump ahead to the guac and salsa, make sure to add some fajita vegetables (consisting of bell peppers and red onions) to your vegan Chipotle order.
Bell peppers are a particularly great source of vitamin C, making this fiesta in your mouth also nutritionally worth your while.
No Chipotle order would be complete without thick, creamy guacamole (it’s worth every extra penny).
In to being tastebud bliss, the fats in guac contribute to health. “Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which can help lower LDL cholesterol,” explains Webster. (Healthy cholesterol is key for reducing risk of heart disease and stroke.)
So if you needed any extra incentive to splurge on the guac, consider this it.
Salsa is a great way to add flavor and nutrients to a vegan meal for few calories, and Chipotle has a whole slew to offer.
The chain’s tomato-based salsas, which include the fresh tomato salsa, tomatillo red-chile salsa, and tomatillo green-chile salsa, all provide a healthy dose of vitamin C.
But don’t forget about the roasted chili-corn salsa, which adds sweetness and texture to your order.
Chipotle’s mix of baby kale, baby spinach, and baby lettuce is a nutrient powerhouse that’s rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, potassium and fiber, says Webster.
While most fast food joints stick to iceberg lettuce, Chipotle’s supergreens make your vegan order–whether it’s a salad or a straight burrito–all the more nutritious and interesting. (Of course, the regular romaine is vegan, too.)
If you like your Chipotle with a side order of crunch, their tortilla chips are totally vegan.
No, they may not be the most thing on the line, but “no matter what kind of an eating pattern you follow, there should always be room for a little indulgence,” says Webster.
And rest assured, if you have a gluten sensitivity, Chipotle’s corn-based chips are a good alternative to wheat tortillas or crackers.