I just received the following Press Release and thought you all would be encouraged by the vegetarian and vegan options now available at major league ball parks.
~ Gretchen, Editor
Veggie Options Score Runs at Major League Baseball Stadiums
Concessions and Fans Both Win
Berkeley, CA, April 23, 2013 – On opening day of Major League Baseball (MLB), 26 of the 30 stadiums had a vegetarian hot dog on their menus. At Safeco Field in Seattle, walking concession vendors will be selling vegetarian franks to fans throughout the stands and a designated cart will be serving customized vegan chili cheese dogs in addition to veggie burgers.
MLB parks have a come a long way since 2000, when vegetarian hot dogs were nonexistent on their menus and vegetarian options were generally limited to peanuts or pretzels. Enter Veggie Happy, an advocacy group that spoke up for fans who were bringing their own vegetarian food or choosing to eat before or after the games due to the limited options. Veggie Happy started with one fan, actress Johanna McCloy, who decided to take action by contacting all MLB concession managers and “making the pitch” for veggie dogs and other vegetarian fare. She cited statistics about the rise in demand for vegetarian options and empowered other fans to chime in. Concessionaires took heed and slowly began to introduce veggie dogs with her assistance. Veggie Happy also created a free “Venue Vegetarian Guide” on their web site (www.VeggieHappy.com) listing the vegetarian options at all MLB stadiums along with other professional sports venues.
At first, veggie dogs remained unmentioned in ballpark menu listings and were limited to one stand, sometimes located at the far end of a stadium. Most fans didn’t know they were even offered, so Veggie Happy hosted game outings and outreached locally to ensure awareness. McCloy even fielded comments on a Denver sports radio interview that veggie dogs in baseball were “un-American.” By 2013, it’s become a new ball game. Baseball fans will find such vegan options as frankfurters, sausages, burgers, Sloppy Janes, Philly cheeze steaks, chicken fajitas, bean burritos, gluten free snack chips and more.
Ballparks are adding vegetarian all stars to their menus and generating runs for concessions and fans alike.
McCloy believes that adding tasty vegan options with proven appeal to mainstream consumers is the key to success, so she only pitches items with a big yummy factor.To that end, stadiums have been switching from generic veggie dogs to vegan frankfurters that appeal to “flexitarian” tastes. Safeco Field saw a 700% increase in sales from 2011-2012 after making the switch to Field Roast brand frankfurters. San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park and Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field also saw their sales rise. Peggy Kalberer, Assistant Concessions Manager for the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field said, “With more and more people looking for healthier options, Veggie Happy makes it easy for fans to plan their visit to the ballpark (by offering the on-line guide). Our fans do not have to eat at home before coming to see a great game.”
David Lee, Field Roast president and founder said, “All baseball fans, whether we’re carnivores or vegans, Giants, Red Socks or Mariners fans, want to eat good All-American food at the ballpark, and that means frankfurters. We are proud to offer ballparks a real vegan frankfurter that is juicy, bold and traditionally seasoned to satisfy fans cravings.”
For more information about Veggie Happy and issues regarding vegetarian options in MLB (and other sports leagues), please visit: www.veggiehappy.com.
Image courtesy of Flickr’s The Commons and the Library of Congress.