Good news for Chipotle fans: The chain recently announced it is giving away free burritos, bowls, tacos, and salads at all US locations starting Tuesday, January 27. And yes, there’s a catch. Just like parents who hold dessert hostage until all the vegetables are gone, the fast food chain requires diners to buy tofu “sofritas” on January 26 in order to earn their coupon for a free, potentially meat-filled item of choice.
The move is a pretty smart way to promote the vegan product to the meat-eating masses. If you don’t like it, you can have something else. The chili-braised organic tofu from Hodo Soy, a California-based “beanery,” may not be as universally appealing as carnitas—but it does have its health benefits, depending on what your diet emphasizes. Sofritas contain slightly fewer calories and saturated fat than the same portion of beef barbacoa—and no cholesterol, compared with the meats—but it’s notably higher in sodium and carbs than, say, chicken.
The health factor really hinges on how you package the protein. As dietitian Rima Kleiner noted in her rundown of best and worst dishes at Chipotle for Washingtonian’s Well+Being blog, “anything with a burrito-size flour tortilla and sour cream has a lot of calories, sodium, and fat.” Burrito bowls—or, even better, salads that eschew tortillas, cheese, sour cream, and big portions of guac—are best.
Whether you’re vegan, healthy, or just willing to jump over a tofu hurdle to score free meat, Chipotle dishes up the buy-one-get-one deal on Monday, January 26. Show your receipt on the next visit, January 27 through February 28, for the freebie.