Meatless Monday

Freebirds Adds a Vegan Option

Summer squash and soybeans make their debut at Freebirds World Burrito.

Photography by Katharine Shilcutt April 27, 2015

The calabacitas can be ordered in everything from burritos to bowls (pictured here with cilantro rice).

Mindful of a recent Meatless Monday post that contained too much meat for some folks (we get it; you hate's fine), we're thrilled to present news that Freebirds World Burrito has jumped on the Chipotle bandwagon by introducing a new vegan option on its menu. It's called calabacitas despite the fact that it containes tempeh—fermented soybeans—in addition to diced up squash, but diced up squash on its own contains a serious lack of protein whereas tempeh contains almost nothing but protein, so we're pretty okay with this.

Freebirds World Burrito
Multiple locations

More importantly, it looks a lot better than the Chipotle vegan offering, sofrito. Or, again, what they're calling sofrito. Real sofrito isn't exactly something you'd put inside a burrito; it's a base for cooking other ingredients, sort of a mirepoix or holy trinity, consisting of tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers. Like the Freebirds option, Chipotle's sofrito has been beefed up—pardon the pun—with the addition of tofu, but the end result is that it looks a little bit like gruel sitting next to steam trays full of juicy chicken and pert carnitas. I hear the sofrito is actually quite good, though I also hear that some vegetarians are annoyed by Chipotle essentially figuring out a way to charge vegetarians for protein after all—meat or not. "Adding tofu to the mix really changes things," wrote Emily Cohn last year at the Huffington Post. "Sofritas costs the same as chicken ($8.50, including tax) and guacamole turns into an added cost."

At Freebirds, meanwhile, you can get calabacitas for the same price as a veggie burrito (or taco, or quesadilla, or salad, or bowl...), though the price difference between veggie and chicken was negligable to begin with: a classic Freebird burrito with chicken costs $6.90 while the new calabacitas option costs $6.80. But along with all that diced up squash and tofu you're also getting plenty of other vegetables too: zucchini, corn, peppers and onions, all cooked down with cumin and cilantro. Just try not to blow it by adding bacon at the very end.


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