Chipotle has always been a decent destination for vegetarians to grab fast food. Forgo the meat for beans and veggies, and you can put together a filling burrito or salad or bowl that doesn’t feel like a pathetic shell of a meal. And this week, Chipotle announces it will offer 150 bonus points for customers enrolled in its Rewards program who choose meat-free orders on “Meatless Mondays” during the month of October.
Oh, this is nice, you might say. Chipotle is encouraging customers to order meatless meals that may be better for the environment and for their health. Sure, that’s one way to look at it, but allow us to don our skeptical hats—these hats are real fun, wish you could see them—for a moment: Chipotle is only offering these bonus points for one month, to people enrolled in its customer-loyalty program, as an incentive to buy more Chipotle, just a couple weeks after introducing its new carne asada meat option. This skeptic thinks Chipotle is less concerned with changing meat eaters’ hearts and minds and more concerned with selling a bunch of Sofritas bowls.
The chain has doubled down on its meatless options in recent years, adding the plant-based Sofritas protein in 2014 and debuting preconfigured Vegan and Vegetarian bowls earlier this year, but it’s also recently added carne asada as a protein option. Maybe Chipotle’s ability to toe the line as a go-to for both meat eaters and vegetarians is exactly the point; as more “flexitarian” customers choose meat-free fast food options, chains need to cater to both the beef and Sofritas crowds.