by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director
Vegetarians and vegans looking for, according to Pita Pit, “healthy food, not health food” may find it at Pita Pit. This quick service chain serving unconventional fare began in Canada in 1995. Pita Pit began United States franchising in 1999. Located throughout the US at over one hundred locations, Pita Pit offers white or wheat pita bread filled with several different all-vegetable items including hummus, falafel or a black bean patty. Pita Pit offers a Garden Pita made with your choice of a large variety of vegetables. Fork-style pita salads are also available. All pita dishes include choice of toppings, sauces, and a cheese for those who’d like one or more of them.
In June 2011, the VRG spoke with a senior staff member at the US Pita Pit corporate headquarters in Coeur d’Alene, ID who told us that currently their veggie pitas comprise approximately 10% of all pitas sold. The falafel and hummus are all-vegetable. Since May 2011, they have offered a spicy black bean burger pita without eggs in the patty. We were informed by Pita Pit that “It is a vegan product according to the box it comes in.” As of this writing, we have not yet heard from Pita Pit regarding the natural flavors in this product and in others thought suitable to vegans including the babaganoush (offered at http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.htmparticipating locations only) and the Teriyaki Sauce. There is no Ingredient Statement available on Pita Pit’s website.
Pita Pit offers feta, provolone, and cheddar cheeses as optional on all pitas or served by themselves in their own pita sandwich. During the time The VRG spoke with Pita Pit, information about the enzymes used to make the cheeses was not available.
There is a wide selection of sauces at Pita Pit. Of the ones offered as part of the standard menu, the Secret Sauce (a spicy vinaigrette) is all-vegetable. The Hot Sauce is, too. The Teriyaki Sauce appears to be all-vegetable; there are natural flavors of an undetermined source. Several different salsas are available around the country, so patrons are advised to check with the manager at specific sites.
The Tzatziki Sauce is dairy-based as is the Ancho Chipotle Sauce. The Caesar Dressing contains anchovies and the Ranch Dressing contains eggs and milk.
Pita Pit is test marketing smoothies at specific locations. Yogurt is an ingredient in the smoothies, but further information about it (i.e., if gelatin is an ingredient), was not available at the time The VRG spoke to Pita Pit.
Soups (manufactured by Knorr) are available at some Pita Pit locations. Currently, less than half of all Pita Pit restaurants in the United States offer soup. Interested readers are advised to direct their soup ingredient questions to the manager at their specific location.
We were informed by Pita Pit that all menu items arrive pre-cooked at the restaurants from Sysco food distributors. There is no raw food (such as meat) present. Pita Pit restaurants in Canada have designated grills but the United States locations do not. Thus, it is possible in the US that meat products are cooked alongside the meatless options.
However, The VRG was told that “employees are taught to ask if customers want [their meatless item] cooked separately…it could be microwaved.” In that case, a menu item is placed on a separate piece of wax paper and microwaved individually. If visiting a Pita Pit, The VRG encourages vegans and vegetarians to request separate preparation if not asked first.
Based in Canada, Pita Pit is rapidly expanding internationally into countries such as Australia, Korea, and Panama. Pita Pit serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications, including The Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company employees or company statements. Information does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research or confirmation may be warranted.
For more information on fast food and quick service chains, please visit our website at http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.htm
For more information on food ingredients and to purchase our Guide to Food Ingredients, please visit our website at http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php
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