Fogo de Chao is the latest steakhouse to embrace vegan protein

Steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão was founded in 1979 to bring the Brazilian churrasco experience—think massive amounts of grilled animal meat on skewers—to a global audience. But in 2023, that audience’s eating habits are changing rapidly and Fogo is adapting to keep up.

Today, the steakhouse is expanding its plant-based options to include hearty vegan proteins in an effort to bring everyone to the table. Its market table—which is like an all-you-can-eat salad bar—has offered plant-based options in the past, and Fogo also serves a cauliflower steak. However, the chain is now introducing new entries to provide a heartier experience for diners looking for an alternative to the meat-heavy experience.

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“Fogo has been serving plant-based options at our market tables for nearly 45 years, and now we’re expanding our menu offerings to include more nutrient-dense and plant-forward protein options for all guests and food tribes to discover new ones. Something can be given. Every time they dine with us,” Fogo de Chao CEO Barry McGowan told VegNews.

Fogo de Chao tofu

So what’s new at Fogo? The steakhouse has introduced two vegan entrees. The Roasted Power Vegetable Bowl features roasted eggplant, marinated mushrooms, roasted zucchini, asparagus and baby peppers served with chimichurri-spinach rice.

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The second entrée, seared tofu with miso black bean pasta, leans heavily on plant proteins with chimichurri-marinated tofu served over a protein-dense black bean pasta that’s sautéed and served with green onions, napa cabbage and pickled onions. Carrot Ginger-Miso Dressing

“At Fogo, innovation is at the core of everything we do,” McGowan said. “We strive to offer our guests the freshest, and healthiest ingredients when dining with us.”

“When testing new plant-based entree options, we used a variety of ingredients already available on the market table and paired those items with the highest quality ingredients available, which led us to the new Seared Tofu and Power Bowl entrees,” she said.

Fogo’s Market Table is getting a few new plant-based additions, including Spring Hummus (which is infused with herbs, roasted garlic, and citrus and tossed with radishes, fresh mint, edamame, and olive oil); Power Greens (a blend of vitamin-rich greens, fresh herbs, and micro-shoots); and miso black bean pasta (the base for its new tofu dish).

Beyond its new plant-forward dishes, Fogo is also tapping into another trend fueled by younger generations, who are consuming less alcohol than their older counterparts.

Fogo’s new non-alcoholic beverage menu is rounded out with CleanCo’s non-alcoholic spirits, featured in three cocktails: the Clean Cosmo (made with non-alcoholic vodka, apple, cranberry and fresh lemon); Clean Cucumber Martini (also served with non-alcoholic vodka, apple, cucumber, basil, and a lemon twist); and CleanR Sour (made with non-alcoholic rum, bitters, passionfruit, pineapple and aquafaba – a foamy liquid from chickpeas that mimics egg whites without the animal products).

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Fogo’s new plant-based entrees are available at lunch, brunch and dinner as an alternative to the meat-heavy churrasco experience. The steakhouse currently operates more than 60 locations and has signed 12 new leases to expand internationally and domestically in 2023.

Steakhouses delve into plant-based proteins

Meat will undoubtedly remain a fixture on the menu at Fogo, but the embrace of tofu comes at a time when steakhouses are evolving to include plant-based meats to serve a more diverse group of diners.

“We wanted to make sure all guests had access to nutrient-dense options that became their new culinary choices when dining at Fogo,” McGowan said. “From our market table to our entree items, we continue to offer fresh, natural ingredients and complete proteins that can be found in nature, including our tofu offering.”

“Tofu is extremely versatile and rich in minerals and vitamins and is loved by guests of all food tribes, including our vegetarian and vegan guests,” he said.

Other chains are also adding hearty meatless options with the help of innovators like Redefine Meat, which furthers the mission the steakhouse’s name implies.

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The Israel-based company recreates the experience of eating meat using plants and technology, resulting in fibrous steaks, lamb and other whole cuts that are now on restaurant menus across Europe, including Marco Pierre White’s 22 steakhouses across the UK. .

This month, another option is coming to a steakhouse chain with the launch of Fable Food’s mushroom meat at STK Steakhouse—which operates 28 locations worldwide. Here, the Australian company’s vegan meat will be served as part of a mushroom burger slider, representing the first time meatless meat has appeared on the STK Steakhouse menu.

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