‘Plant-Based’ Means Nothing Anymore, Apparently

Yes, Chipotle, we know cauliflower rice is plant-based. It's made from cauliflower, a plant.


By Angela L. Pagán, The Takeout

June 20, 2022


It’s no secret fast food chains and other food brands have been clamoring to cash in on the plant-based market, but the desire to promote offerings as plant-based is getting redundant and a bit desperate.


The most recent example of this comes from Chipotle. In January 2021, Chipotle released its cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, but much to the disappointment of fellow Takeout staff writer Dennis Lee the cauliflower rice was not worth the additional $2.25. However, it seems Lee was alone in this opinion because according to a press release the success of the cilantro lime cauliflower rice is what has led Chipotle to its next “plant-based” offering.


What does “plant-based” really mean?


The term “plant-based” was first coined in 1980 by Thomas Colin Campbell, a Cornell University biochemist, reports The New York Times. Campbell used the term to describe a plant-based diet. The term was mean to help distinguish between eating actual, fresh plants and processed food products like a veggie burger.


Funny that now, you could find a plant-based label on a number of veggie burger options along with plenty of other processed foods—I don’t think Campbell envisioned the label being slapped on a McDonald’s menu. These days, “plant-based” has become a trendy marketing term more than a helpful description of a dish.


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