‘O’ so exciting news (VH Manager guest post)

May 8th, 2017

Many stadiums, including the Orioles’ Spring Training home, are becoming more vegan-friendly!

Me and the Bird--O's event 2015

Hey, sports fans! I’m Heather Moore, the new volunteer Veggie Happy Manager for the Baltimore Orioles. I’ve been following the O’s my whole life, and I think they’ve been “following” me, too—although that’s probably just a coincidence. I was born in B’more, and I moved to Norfolk, Virginia, with PETA, the organization where I now work, in 1996. Soon after that, the O’s announced that their Triple-A team was going to play in Norfolk, about 10 minutes from my apartment. Years later, when I was considering moving to Sarasota, Florida, the O’s announced that they were going to hold Spring Training at Ed Smith Stadium, which happens to be about 10 minutes from the house I ended up buying. Clearly, I was meant to get Spring Training season tickets.

Since I’ve been vegan for 25 years, I’m just as interested in the options in the concession stands as I am in the action on the field. When I went to buy the tickets, I told the salesperson that I was hoping for more veg options in the concession stands, because in 2010, there wasn’t much other than popcorn, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks. The season ticket salesperson said he’d pass my request on, and apparently he did, because the next year, Ed Smith Stadium had veggie burgers, which I bought at every single home game. I haven’t missed a game in eight years—but I tend to go for the veggie dogs now, which they added to the lineup two seasons ago. The main café has hummus now, too.

Os Sky

Sunset at Ed Smith Stadium

This past March, veggie burgers and veggie dogs were available to all of the fans at the season ticket holder special event at Ed Smith Stadium. Previously, the O’s staff would bring me a specially prepared vegan meal, but I usually had to request it. They were always friendly and accommodating, but it’s more exciting now that veg options are automatically available to everyone in attendance.

That’s one of the reasons why I volunteered to be the Veggie Happy Manager for the Orioles. I figure Buck Showalter already has his hands full managing the team, so I should help out by making sure that the fans have access to veggie options. I’m looking forward to working with the O’s food service staff—as well as other O’s fans—to get even more vegan fare at O’s stadiums.

Many ballparks, including Minor League and spring training stadiums, will offer vegan options if the fans simply express interest.

As the Veggie Happy Venue Vegetarian Guide shows, many ballparks now offer a variety of vegan options, thanks to feedback from Veggie Happy and fans who enjoy tasty, animal-friendly fare at the stadium. It only makes sense for stadiums to offer meat-free fare, considering that MLB partners with Stand Up to Cancer and many of the foods traditionally sold in baseball stadiums—like hot dogs and hamburgers—can cause cancer.

Humane and health-conscious fans can opt for veggie burgers and veggie dogs at most stadiums, and some—including Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.; Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park; Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles; and the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field—have even scored spots on PETA’s popular list of veg-friendly ballparks.

I can’t spoil the surprise just yet, but PETA’s 2017 list of top 10 vegan-friendly MLB stadiums will be released soon, and it’s even more exciting than the Opening Day extra inning walk-off home run by O’s DH Mark Trumbo! (Note from Veggie Happy: PETA’s list considers options available in suites, catering, and clubs, in addition to general concessions. Menu listings in the Venue Vegetarian Guide are focused on general concessions.)

Stay tuned—or as O’s centerfielder Adam Jones says, stay hungry! Oh, and O’s fans, you can always contact the Orioles to let them know how much you enjoy meat-free meals and would love to see even more vegan options at all of the Orioles’ stadiums. 

Heather Moore is the new volunteer Veggie Happy Manager for the Baltimore Orioles. She’s a lifelong O’s fan, a seasoned vegan, and a staff writer for the PETA Foundation. She can be reached at HeatherM@petaf.org or at 941-330-6430 (call or text) if you have questions or want to help get more vegan options at O’s stadiums.

 

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Helping Foodservice Managers

January 24th, 2017

Plant based foods are continuing to grow in demand, particularly with Millennials. Large entertainment venues and smaller foodservice accounts are equally getting on board by adding more of these options to their menus. The options today are plentiful and tasty, appealing to a wide swath of flexitarian customers and going far beyond strict vegetarians or vegans.

Veggie Happy helps established foodservice managers by providing suggestions and liaison assistance for food samples and tastings.

“Johanna [director of Veggie Happy] has done a tremendous job of helping to implement vegetarian menu selections into sporting venues. She is very enthusiastic and will assist you doing research and product selection when necessary. She has encouraged, and assisted me in adding healthy menu items at my venue which we have continued to increase every season.”
– Sandie Filipiak, Director of Concessions at AT&T Park

For quick clarification to those who are unfamiliar: Veggie Happy is not a manufacturer, brand, or broker. Veggie Happy advocates for viable plant based menu options. Whenever you add new plant based options, Veggie Happy also celebrates your menu and helps to spread the word. Have you seen our MLB or NFL Venue Guides? They are utilized by thousands of people every day.

What might you add to your menu? Consider a variety of plant based meats like sausages, burgers etc. Or what about DF pizzas or ice cream? You might also add GF cookies, snack chips . . . and more.

Contact info@veggiehappy.com if you’re an established foodservice manager and would like more information and liaison assistance.

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Plant-based menus: trend to movement

December 16th, 2016

This is the time when top ten 2017 food trends are forecasted by respected researchers, marketing organizations and food industry representatives. Retailers, foodservice establishments, concessionaires and the media all pay close attention to these reports and consider these “trends” as they plan new menus for the upcoming year.

One common item in the trend reports for 2017 is the focus on plant-based foods and menus, and an important secondary aspect of that trend is the highlighted consumer group being targeted: flexitarians. That is to say, this trend relates to mainstream consumers who are reducing their meat or dairy consumption, It’s not really focused on self-identified vegetarians or vegans.

Here are some interesting examples highlighting how this “trend” is actually a fast-growing movement:

  • A new trade group, the Plant Based Foods Association, was established earlier this year to represent makers of proteins derived from plant-based sources. An industry lobby is now in place.
  • Tyson Foods just launched a $150 million VC fund called Tyson New Ventures to invest in meatless foods and technology.
  • Hampton Creek‘s eggless Just Mayo continues to disrupt the food industry and now Hellman’s is creating an eggless mayo of their own. Meanwhile, Hampton Creek’s eggless-egg has been replacing eggs in all kinds of packaged products.
  • Bill Gates is one of the big VC investors in plant based protein technology, including the meatless Impossible Burger which is now highlighted on the menu at Jardiniere, a high-end French restaurant in San Francisco. (It’s meatlessness isn’t even mentioned.)
  • Food establishments, schools and hospitality groups are all looking at ways to expand their plant-based menus with delicious options. This is true globally. The word’s most prestigious cooking competition, the Bocuse d’Or, will focus on a plant-based dish for chefs from 24 countries in the 2017 grand finale. That means no dairy, no eggs, no meat.

Visit Veggie Happy’s Facebook page (the page is titled “We’re Veggie Happy”) for more informative and fun posts related to the increasing popularity of plant-based menu options on mainstream menus.

Bon Appetit!

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A book plug from Johanna

July 15th, 2016

Johanna here, Founder/Director of Veggie Happy, taking a moment to share something totally off topic: the publication of my mother’s memoir, Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant: Undercover & Overwhelmed as a CIA Wife and Mother.

Six Car Lengths book cover

The book is now available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon. It is also available in bookstores. If it’s not in stock, you can order it. Reference ISBN: 9780997596304

Go to Bordertown Publishing for more information about the book. (I am also the editor.) If you’d like to receive updates from Bordertown Publishing, please sign up for the mailing list here.

Thanks!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program . . .

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Vegan fare at TX Rangers ballpark: guest blog from Twalla

April 25th, 2016
Me and my boyfriend Dave

Me and my boyfriend Dave

This guest post comes from Twalla, volunteer Veggie Happy Manager for the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park. Twalla has been amazing at opening the door to vegan fare at this ballpark. How did she do it? What are her suggestions to others? Read on.

I am a huge Rangers fan. As soon as they played their last game of 2015, I started counting down the days to opening day for the 2016 season. When the Concessions Manager let me know that there was going to be a vegan cart at the ballpark as of April 4th, the date could not get here fast enough. I had never been so excited for a Monday!

Since it seemed like opening day would never get here, I decided to attend the exhibition games for the first time. They were on Friday, April 1st and Saturday, April 2nd. During those two days, we tried the nachos topped with cheese & chili with meat crumbles as well as the burger with hummus. Both are so good, but the nachos are my favorite! On opening day, I opted for the spinach wrap, which I also enjoyed. (Note: Dave is not vegan, but these were his words,“Those nachos are really good!!”)

Vegan Burger

Vegan Burger

Vegan Nachos

Vegan Nachos

Vegan Spinach Wrap (without the vegan chicken)

Vegan Spinach Wrap (without the vegan chicken)

Oh, and this is the shirt I had printed and wore on opening day:

Twalla Tee

“VEGAN FOOD” replaced “BBQ”

The line for the Ballpark Vegan cart was up to 20 people deep at some points during the game. It was a win for both the cart and our Texas Rangers that day. I was particularly glad to find out that on opening week, more vegan burgers were sold than the Wicked Pig (YES!)

Rangers Ballpark Vegan Cart

Ballpark Vegan cart

If you want a vegan cart at your ballpark, you need to contact or e-mail the concessions team. Don’t just do it once, hoping they will listen: keep e-mailing them. Over two years, I e-mailed our Concessions Manager (Casey) and even brought him vegan food items to try. I also created the Facebook page “Veggie Texas Ranger Fans to find more like-minded Ranger fans and help show that there was a real demand to meet the supply of vegan-friendly ballpark foods. To quote Casey, I “politely pestered” him and it paid off!

I have also created a Twitter account @veganrangerfans, so I can easily communicate with the Rangers and their concession company Delaware North, as well as fellow Rangers fans. I encourage anyone to use #ballparkvegan and #veggietexasrangerfans when posting their pictures at Ranger games. This will allow me to find their posts on social media and provide feedback to Casey. My next goal is for them to add another cart on the 1st base line, and also vegan churros. 😉

The Whitley Family (They were excited to be able to finally attend a Rangers game with a great selection of ballpark fanfare for their vegan family.)

The Whitley Family (They were excited to finally be able to attend a Rangers game with a great selection of ballpark menu options for their vegan family.)

Me and my friends (left to right: Rachel, me, Coline)

Me and my friends (left to right: Rachel, me, Coline)

On Saturday, May 14th, we are having a BallPark Vegan Night (check out the promotional flyer below.) We will be seated in Section 320.

Flyer

Would love for you to join us, but if you can’t, consider hosting an outing at your own ballpark!

 

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More MLB vegan firsts

March 22nd, 2016

We’re receiving updated vegetarian/vegan menu listings for MLB parks for the coming season. As they continue to come in, we can already share a couple of vegan firsts:

Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field has added vegan frankfurters to their menu this season. This marks the first time that this ballpark is offering any kind of vegetarian hot dog on the menu. It’s a big deal. (Only three MLB parks remain without a vegetarian hot dog on the menu . . . as of today.)

Also, Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park will be debuting a vegan cart this year.

Vegan nachos

Vegan nachos at Globe Life Park

“Vegan-themed portable cart offers a variety of popular ballpark fare and other healthy options that do not contain any animal bi-products. The menu consists of: Southwest Black Bean Burger, Vegan Nachos, Vegan Hot Dog, Vegan Jerky, Vegan Chili, Vegan Spinach Wrap, Shake It Up Salad, Fresh Cut Fruit and more! Located in section 16.”

Our Veggie Happy Manager Twalla has been influential at that ballpark and we applaud her! Check out her Veggie Texas Ranger Fans Facebook page .

We’ll keep posting updates to the We’re Veggie Happy Facebook page and will edit the MLB Venue Vegetarian Guide as new menu listings come in. Remember: fan feedback makes a difference! Use the contact information in the listings to relay your thanks or suggestions at the ballparks you frequent.

Things are looking up when a ballpark in Texas is proudly promoting its new vegan cart to the media.

Happy 2016 baseball season, everyone!

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The Butcher’s Daughter and Adam & Eve

January 16th, 2016

Imagine a vegetarian or vegan raving about how much they love the food at a cafe called The Butcher’s Daughter. On the flip side, imagine a mainstream diner who has no plant-based preferences and eats everything animal-based, also raving about how much they love the food at a strictly vegetarian/vegan dining establishment. More and more often, they’d be talking about the same place. Vegan fare is going mainstream folks. “The proof of the puddin’ is in the eating!” Well there’s more proof being offered every day.

Heather Tierney is the owner of one such establishment. It’s a cafe in New York called The Butcher’s Daughter. As you might infer from its name, she is not a vegetarian. She describes the food she serves as “hearty and delicious—almost like vegetarian food for non-vegetarians.” Her smashed avocado toasts offer one such example. (Yum!)

Butcher's Daughter toast (1)

Read about Tierney’s recipe for success and the opening of her second cafe in a 3,200 square-foot space in Venice (California, that is, not Italy.)

Now, imagine a vegetarian or vegan raving about the food served at an English pub. Pubs are not generally associated with plant-based eating, right? And again, imagine a mainstream British pub-goer, raving about the food at a pub that only serves vegetarian and vegan fare. The first all-vegetarian pub (which is almost entirely vegan) is in Bristol, England and it’s called Adam & Eve.

Owner Bruce Grey said: “It is early days, we only introduced the menu at the start of January, but so far the reaction has been brilliant.”

adam-and-eve-hotwells-bristol-pub (1)

Read more about vegetarian/vegan pub Adam & Eve in today’s Bristol Post.

Is there a vegetarian/vegan food establishment with big-time mainstream appeal that you consider a favorite and would like to recommend? What are their best dishes? Please share them in our comments section.

Here’s to happy noshing in 2016!

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Ah, the irony: menu options lacking at the UN Climate Change Conference

December 4th, 2015

Betwa Sharma, a Huffington Post/Times of India journalist attending the UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris posted an article about the dismal lack of viable vegetarian options available to attendees and journalists. “Perhaps hunger sharpens your sense of irony. And it’s not easy to miss this one,” she writes. “This is the venue where nearly 200 countries are huddled in a ‘last chance’ attempt to reduce carbon emissions.”

She clarifies with this fact: “According the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meat in diets pumps more greenhouse gases–carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide–into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry.”

Silvia Dias, a communications expert from Brazil who is also attending the conference, told Sharma that a much smaller climate change session held in Bonn earlier this year offered more vegetarian options, including lentils and rice, vegetarian Moussaka and Mexican dishes.

“It is really disturbing to see that the U.N. Climate Change Conference is going against the recommendations of FAO, which is a U.N. Agency. You would think that at a climate change conference there should be even more vegetarian options than non-vegetarian,” she added.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provided this 2014 statistic on greenhouse gas emissions world-wide:

GHG emissions AFOLU

The IPCC’s own Mitigation for Climate Change Study summary for policy makers [my italic] offers this:

“Demand-side measures, such as changes in diet and reductions
of losses in the food supply chain, have a significant, but uncertain, potential to reduce GHG emissions from food production.”

And yet, with all the planning that went into this important global event, the idea of offering plentiful and viable plant-based menu options didn’t enter the equation. Think of the opportunity that was missed here, not only by catering to a global community, many of whose cultural dietary preferences already lean toward plant-based foods, but also by introducing viable vegetarian options to those who haven’t tried them before. With India and China among principal emission generators, why not emphasize their own plant-based cuisines as examples? Options could’ve included Indian dishes like chana masala (with garbanzo beans) or dal tadka (with lentils), Asian-style tofu dishes and stir fries, as well as falafel sandwiches, veggie burgers, black bean chili . . . the list goes on.

Thomas W. Hertel, a Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, focuses his research on the economy-wide impacts of global trade and environmental policies. On a recent segment of the PBS Newshour, he said this:

“If you look globally and you just compare every sector, I’m talking electric utilities, steel, automobiles, beef, globally, beef is at the top, OK, the highest emissions per dollar of output, higher than electric utilities globally.”

It’s clear that the impact of animal agriculture merits serious attention if the world is to take action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Many environmentalists already understand this and have steered their diet in a plant-based direction. The UN Conference on Climate Change could’ve easily set an important example (and shown integrity in its messaging) by offering a plentiful variety of plant-based menu options for its attendees.

 

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PETA’s Top Ten Veg-Friendly MLB parks

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. 

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Progress, progress, progress

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 info@veggiehappy.com if you’d like more information about Affiliation or website advertising opportunities.

Play ball!

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