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Chipotle Is Coming Out With a Brand New Protein

The chain has a proprietary new ingredient with a high popularity potential.

One of America's most popular fast-casual chains will soon have an exciting new protein on the menu. Chipotle, known for versatile meats and solid veggie options, is making its first foray into plant-based meat with a new proprietary vegan Chorizo. And according to Bloomberg, the Mexican chain has created its own meat alternative, opting out of collaborations with well-established brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Chipotle's plant-based Chorizo is made with pea protein—just like the Beyond Meat products soon to be served by McDonald's and Taco Bell—while an additional kick comes from the use of olive oil and spices like paprika and cumin, Bloomberg reported. The protein is grilled and features a crumbly texture.

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The chain chose to create its very own "fake meat" so it can better control the ingredients that go in it.

"They're too processed for us, and they contain a lot of ingredients we would never have in our restaurants," Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt said of the major alternative meat brands.

So where and when can you taste this better-for-you plant-based meat? The Chorizo is already available in several markets. According to Bloomberg, some 100 stores in Denver, Indianapolis, and Orange County, Calif., are serving it as part of a test. How long it'll be available during this run is unclear, but pending a successful reception from customers, the Chorizo is likely to roll out nationwide.

Chipotle already has a vegan protein—the soy-based Sofritas, which was added to the menu in 2014—but according to Brandt, the market is ripe for more meat alternatives.

"We definitely see a lot of interest in it," he said. "Some people for the health benefits, some people for the environmental benefits."

But unlike items from some other chains, Chipotle's Chorizo isn't meant to replace a meat item on the menu. Instead, it's a plant-based creation meant to appeal to carnivores on its own merit, according to Brandt.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Deputy News Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura