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Pret a Manger is going plant-crazy, adding 20 new vegetarian menu options


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Photo: Pret a Manger

If you’ve stopped into Pret a Manger lately, you might have noticed a couple new changes. First, they now have matcha green tea. (Bless.) And more recently, past the usual Greek falafel wraps and spicy avocado BLTs are two new options, packaged together in neat little cartons: coconut chicken and miso sweet potato, and turmeric tofu and miso sweet potato.

It turns out the two new items, dubbed “balance boxes,” are just a tease: The grab-and-go chain add a whopping 20 new items to its menu starting April 25, and every single one of them will be vegetarian or vegan.

The chain tested going big with veggies in its home base of London, opening a vegetarian pop-up last year.

According to Jo Brett, Pret’s US president, the chain tested going big with veggies in its home base of London, opening a vegetarian pop-up last year. The temporary location was expected to make less money than the other Pret locations, but it actually made more. Now, it’s a permanent store, and a second Veggie Pret opened this week.

Pret
Photo: Pret a Manger

“The conversation to do [something similar] in the US has been a discussion for as long as it’s been an idea for the UK—our vegetarian fare sells really well here,” Brett says.

Okay, but what exactly are all these new food items? Coming soon: miso sweet potato banh mi, chakalaka wrap (a vegan South African inspired recipe made with a traditional spiced bean and tomato relish), and an assortment of veggie pots, like a seaweed and avocado.

Olly Smith, Pret’s vice president of food, says the dishes were inspired by what they were hearing from customers as well as what he and the Pret food team were seeing—and tasting—on the healthy-food scene (he himself is a big abcV fan). To encourage feedback on its new plant-powered menu items, Pret is putting a “love it or leave it” sticker on each one, so that you can “vote” and share on social media.

And Veggie Pret is expanding beyond London for the first time, with its first US pop-up launching April 22 in Manhattan, for one day only. Starting at 12:30 p.m., customers will get a first look at the new items and the first 200 will be treated to a free lunch.

With Pret’s new plant-powered push—plus healthy upgrades available now at Panera Bread and Chipotle—lunch options are looking up lately. (Hello, meal-prep elbow room!)

Veggie Pret, 400 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016, pret.com (Happening for one day only on April 22.)

If you actually love to cook for the whole week on Sunday night, here are Well+Good readers’ top lunch-making hacks—and some Pinterest-worthy portable salads.