November 20th, 2014
Thanksgiving dinner can be a very socially difficult experience for vegetarians and vegans. It’s hard to reconcile what we know about the way most turkeys are raised and treated with the fact that we’re gathering around a table, a large turkey at its center, for the purpose of giving thanks with family and friends. Cruelty is hard to reconcile as the default partner to a holiday focused on gratitude.
Some vegans will opt out of joining those gatherings, choosing to host or attend a cruelty-free gathering instead. Dining with kindred vegans is understandable and certainly far more pleasant and easier on the conscience. It can also be the best gratitude splurge in the world. Still, it doesn’t change anything for the majority of people who eat the traditional way. That turkey will still be served; vegan family members or friends just won’t be there to bear witness.
For other vegans, going it solo or with other vegans is not as clear an option.They may want to be with family or friends on this special day and not want to become isolated by it. Instead of bowing out of traditional gatherings, they might instead opt to bring “special” dishes for themselves and others to nosh on. Or they might feast on many of the side dishes together, since that is often plenty of food.
If you’re a vegan at a traditional table, don’t forget that you’re also an example to those around you. That may not be something you’re concerned with, but it matters. People take notice and your food choices are registering in their own conscience as doable. Kids at the table will tend to be less inhibited about asking you questions or making comments, too. If they do, well, there you’ll be with a window, however small and delicate, to explain in brief and friendly terms why it is you choose not to eat turkey. If they make faces and mock what’s on your plate, that’s usually because they’re not familiar with those foods or your way of life. It’s not their fault. Smile, make them feel understood and offer them a taste. You might, just might, be the first person in their life to show them that vegan foods are not only possible, they’re viable.
A thought, anyway.
For your plant-based center-of-the-meal dish, there are a variety of ways you can go. From store-bought and ready-to-go-after-heating options like Field Roast’s Celebration Roast (or their other roasts), to items from Gardein or Turtle Island Foods, to make-it-yourself dishes made with tempeh, seitan, mushrooms or tofu, there are lots of options to suit your palate. If you want recipes, check 41 delicious vegan Thanksgiving recipes here. You can also search “vegan Thanksgiving recipes” on Google and scroll and peruse away. What’s great is that vegan options are becoming increasingly well-known and popular not just with vegans, but with omnivores (flexitarians) alike.
We do the best with what we’ve got, and it’s good to know there’s a lot of vegan goodness to work with now.
Wherever you land on Thanksgiving, here’s to good company and a tasty and a happy Turkey-Free Day.
July 28th, 2015
You’ll likely get wind of PETA’s Top Ten Veg-Friendly MLB Ballparks for 2015. The list generates a lot of news media (and social media) attention every year.
We want to provide an important caveat to that list: PETA considers all the suites-only (and club) menu items equally with general concessions when it creates its list. In fact, suites-only items are often what are referenced in their media release (such as the vegan nachos at Dodger Stadium.) It’s great that these options have made it into the suites menu, no doubt, but it’s important to note that this doesn’t reflect general concessions. Veggie Happy wouldn’t rate a ballpark’s veg-friendliness based equally on what’s only available for high-paying suites ticket purchasers. Our focus is primarily on general concessions and what’s available to the average fan.
For general concessions menu listings, check our MLB Venue Veg Guide.(We were told the Venue Guide link would be added to the PETA release online, so hopefully that has happened by the time you read this.) It provides all the individual ballpark menus (we have a listing for the NFL as well) and contact information so fans can share their menu comments or suggestions directly with each ballpark. We also have volunteer Veggie Happy Managers listed for some of those ballparks. Contact them if you’d like to galvanize local support or join group outings, etc.
It’s great that PETA gets so much media attention around it’s Top Ten Veg-Friendly venue releases and we know from our own interactions that large venues strive to get on the list every year. P.R. incentive is good incentive too. But fans make the most difference by chiming in directly with the ballparks. (See our previous post “Progress, progress, progress” about some of the set-up-to-fail issues surrounding signage, concession worker awareness and stand locations at some ballparks.)
PETA’s Top Ten list has been posted to Veggie Happy’s Facebook page with a couple of comments as a caveat. If you’d like to share PETA’s list on social media, please consider sharing it via our Facebook post, so those comments are included.
June 11th, 2015
We’ve come a long way when the L.A. Times writes that Dodger Stadium has “upped its food and drink game” by offering vegan cheese on its nachos, among other things. It wasn’t too long ago when the only vegetarian options at a ballpark were literally peanuts. As of today, most MLB stadiums (all, minus four) have vegetarian hot dogs on their menu, and many are now going with popular vegan franks. (Yankee Stadium added them to their menu this season.) Ballparks are also offering veggie burgers and options such as vegan “chicken” or “cheese steak.” Pretty cool.
That’s not to say there isn’t more progress to be made. Some ballparks limit their wonderful vegan options to suites and catering, which let’s face it, probably isn’t as big an issue anyway. It’s general concessions that matters most to us. Folks paying for suites are going to get what they want a lot faster than the many thousands of regular fans paying general admission prices. Like anything in a capitalistic society, money tends to grab business attention first, and if there isn’t much in the way of money, then it’s the amount of people asking that makes the difference. We all count; that is, if we make sure we’re counted. That’s why sharing your menu feedback directly with the ballparks (or on a general level, doing so with any place that calls you a customer) is important. Veggie Happy advocates for fans, but fans need to chime in directly too.
Here’s where progress still needs to be made. When vegan options are on the regular concessions menu, they tend to be limited to one or two stands, sometimes with very little in the way of clear signage or other indications to fans that they’re available at all, or where to find them. Those vegan franks are popular with regular consumers, not just vegetarians or vegans, which is why we advocate for them, but how will most fans know they’re available? They may not fare as well as they could or should, given true fan interest, and concession managers might take their sales numbers to mean they aren’t popular. That’s not true, the items are just not evident.
Here’s an example of that. It’s an excerpt of an email we received from a Red Sox fan about Fenway Park:
“There is only one vendor in the park selling vegetarian dogs. Its down a dead end alley, on the side of another catering area. In fact, the people in the regular lines for food blocked my sight line to even see the sign.”
The Nationals’ ballpark is a lovely exception. They notified us that veggie dogs are available at 11 total stands there this season.
We continue to contact the ballparks and update our Venue Vegetarian Guide’s MLB listings as they send confirmations of their 2015 menus. Keep checking the Guide for updates and be sure to use the contact information provided there to contact the ballparks directly with any comments or suggestions of your own. They tally fan comments and requests and yours could be the one to make the difference.
Also, for those of you who might like to promote your products, organization, events or causes through Veggie Happy, note that we now also offer select advertising on the website, which averages 6,000 hits a month. This is offered in addition to Affiliation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information about Affiliation or website advertising opportunities.
April 21st, 2015
It’s been a long haul, but at long last, we’re very happy to share that New York’s Yankee Stadium will begin offering vegan frankfurters and burgers effective THIS coming Friday, April 24th!
Keep an eye on the MLB Venue Vegetarian Guide for updated concessions listings and contact information for all MLB stadiums. We’ll update the Yankees listing with the vegan frank and burger stand locations as soon as they’re confirmed.
Please use the Venue Vegetarian Guide as a resource for contacting venues with your own fan feedback. We never tire of beating the drum of advocacy and empowerment. The more fans that chime in directly, supporting and celebrating vegan options, the stronger those menu options become and the greater likelihood they’ll remain on the menu.
April 8th, 2015
IKEA will roll out its new veggie balls or “Gronsaksbullar” throughout its 40 U.S. cafeterias (except in Carson, CA) starting tomorrow, April 9. Gronsaksbullar are also vegan, as is the sauce being offered with them. The price is $4.49 for 10 balls and a side of veggies. The total caloric plate is 350 calories and the 10 balls alone are 240 calories. They are gluten, soy, dairy and GMO-free and are made from a blend of green peas, carrot, chickpeas, bell peppers, corn, kale, pea starch, seasonings, onion and canola oil.
Starting on June 30, Gronsaksbullar will also be available for purchase from the Swedish Food Court (as retail packages.)
IKEA has done a great job of celebrating this new item as “the first step to include a wider variety of nutritious and more sustainable food choices.” One of its goals in offering this item is to cut carbon emissions by offering plant-based food selections.
“We will continue to serve delicious food, offering a taste of Sweden at affordable prices, but with increasing focus on the aspects of food that are really important to people: health and sustainability,” said Michael La Cour, Managing Director of IKEA Food Services AB. “We have high ambitions, and our journey in this direction has just begun. I am proud that we now take the first step and start serving veggie balls.”
Considering that IKEA sells more than one billion meatballs per year, this is a great first step.