The Venue Vegetarian Guide

We’ve added a comprehensive listing to NFL stadiums as part of our Venue Vegetarian Guide.  Now, in addition to checking your MLB parks, you can find your favorite or local NFL stadium’s vegetarian listings as well.

In addition, we’ve reformatted our consumer information for easy review.  Titled, “What Can I Do?” this information will help to make your comments and suggestions  to food establishments more effective.

Food for thought on Thanksgiving

Ignorance is bliss. So goes the expression, and it’s often true.  What you don’t know, won’t affect your conscience.  But that doesn’t change the facts.  The facts are real.

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

For some of us who want to make conscious choices and to live our lives with as much integrity as possible, food has become a vital part of that lifestyle.  We choose not to support the cruel and barbaric practices that occur on factory farms each day.  That’s why, among other reasons, so many people are becoming vegetarian and vegan.

“An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.” –– Thomas Jefferson

With this in mind, we’d like to highlight some important facts as we approach Thanksgiving.   We would also like to offer some delicious options and solutions.  🙂

First, we rewind to one of our previous Thanksgiving posts and encourage you to read “Turkey stats for Thanksgiving.” It provides information on the turkey industry, much of it straight from the National Turkey Federation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Next, we invite you to watch this short video from the national farm shelter manager at Farm Sanctuary, introducing some of the rescued turkeys at her farm in New York:

We know traditions can be difficult to break.  For those who are accustomed to eating turkey on this holiday and who want an analogous experience to their traditional meal, do not worry: we offer a solution!  Check out another previous blog, “It’s turkey time again,” which includes links to the delicious, vegetarian options of Tofurky and Turk’y Roast, available at Whole Foods or at your  local grocery store.  You’ll be amazed by how little you’ll miss the meat of yore.

“Turkeys have been bred to grow so fast and heavy that their bones are too weak to carry the weight.  Turkeys frequently suffer from painful lameness so severe they try to walk on their wings to reach food and water.” -United Poultry Concerns

Thanksgiving can be a particularly difficult holiday for compassionate vegetarians and vegans.  This is a holiday marked as an occasion to pause and give thanks, but we do it around a center plate that generally features the baked remnants of a tortured bird.   Our conscience has a hard time with that.  We hear “happy turkey day” a lot and it’s hard to reconcile the spirit intended with the message with the facts we already know.  It was far from being a happy turkey.

“Knowledge is power.” ~ Sir Francis Bacon

When you’re informed, you’re empowered.  When you’re empowered, you make choices to line your conscience with a way of life that you can literally swallow.  The good news here is that it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the joy of a delicious meal, or even, the traditional experience of this holiday.  The big difference is that now, you can do it with a clear and good conscience.  We give thanks for that.

“Smart Fails” of a vegan restaurant (guest blog from Molly Patrick)

Molly Patrick has been with Nature’s Express since January 2008. She has a passion for healthy food and for bringing it to the masses. Her personal and professional lives are so similar that she doesn’t realize when she’s working half of the time. You can find her in her spare time cooking or writing for her blog.

I went to an event in San Francisco last week called Failcon. It was just as it sounds, people coming together who have learned from their failures to share their experiences with the attendees.  The focus was on tech companies, but hey, a fail is a fail; unless of course you dissect it and learn from it  –  then it’s a “smart fail.”

We have had our share of failures at Nature’s Express, that much I can tell you. We have also done a few things right, but that stuff isn’t as interesting as the times when we have utterly screwed up.  Let me share a few examples.

We thought it would be a really good idea to offer Boca Burgers as our main burger to cater to people who have a taste for meat but want to try something better for their health. The Boca seemed the closest match to a meat burger out there.

We got slammed for this move, and however well-intentioned that move was on our part, looking back now, I completely agree. We have an unbelievably talented cook, Joel Daniel, who is capable of vegan food magic, so offering a pre-made burger made no sense!

Another time we thought that not putting the descriptions of our menu items on our menu board was the way to go. I can’t even remember the logic behind this one, but it turns out that 95% of the population isn’t familiar with half of our food. Of course we need to put descriptions. Curse of Knowledge anyone?

There was the “Build-your-own-burger” fiasco. We thought that it was a great idea to give people more choices! Yes, people love choices, right? We would have people choose their bun, choose their style, choose their patty, choose, choose, choose! It would be great!

Wrong. We were terribly wrong. It turns out that people only think they want choices; in reality people like to be told what is good and will order that. Makes sense. When I go out to a restaurant, the first thing I scan on their menu is the “house specialty”.  Given that it’s vegan, I’ll order that. I trust the house to know what their best is.

Then there was our tag line, Healthier Fast Food. Oh boy, where do I start with this one? I’ll break it down:

Healthier:

The owner of Nature’s Express, Carl Myers, is a retired oncologist (cancer doctor). He is in the same school of thought as Drs. Esselstyn, Barnard, Fuhrman, and Ornish, and he sits on the Advisory Board of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM.)

I would be lying if I said that Myers isn’t motivated every day by the health crisis resulting from the Standard American Diet (appropriately referred to as SAD.) By starting with the very basic need to eat, Nature’s Express is his answer to the crisis at hand.  After all, food got us into this mess. So healthy was bound to come up in our mission, marketing, messaging, etc.

What we have found is that people are big on talking about being healthier; they have good intentions and will likely buy into something that is even just perceived as being healthy as long “healthy” isn’t part of the messaging. People don’t want to be bombarded with something that they already know they should be doing.

The other issue is that “healthier” coming from a vegan restaurant gives people a flash image of a dry cracker with some seeds and sprouts on top. Not appetizing when you are hungry and want some real food!  We take pride in how many omnivore fans we have – labeling ourselves as healthier was doing a disservice to our food.

Fast Food:

When people hear fast food, they think two minutes or less.  McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and all the rest have set this as a standard. However, there is no possible way to hold to that two minute standard when cooking and prepping fresh food every day.  It has proven not to be technically possible with the quality and freshness of our food.

Can we get our food out in 10-15 minutes? Absolutely! If you order a wrap, it might only take five minutes.  However, we set people’s expectations up way too high when we touted fast food in our tag line and could not get orders out in two minutes or less.

These are all areas in which we have failed. However, they have been smart fails because we were able to stare our mistakes in the face, dissect them, adjust accordingly, and move forward.

We have a passionate team, an excellent leader, and the drive to make a difference in this world. It is only a matter of time before vegan fast-ish food goes mainstream and becomes just another option for people who are hungry.

We would like to be the ones who fill that void.

Philly Eagles Veg Menu (Guest blog from concession manager)

Lincoln Financial Field Vegetarian Menu 2011

Here at Lincoln Financial Field we are proud of our 2010 PETA award for having the #1 Vegetarian Stadium in the NFL.  You will continue to see some classics on the menu as well as some great new items like the veggie wrap in concessions and the grilled vegetable hoagie in the suites.  We are also proud to announce that we will be featuring a vegetarian mobile food truck on the Headhouse Plaza during an Eagles game this season.

(Soy Happy note: we will update this menu listing and mark the vegan items as soon as he has confirmed that information.)

General Concessions:

Veggie steak sandwich (concessions)  – cheese can be left off by customer request
Veggie chicken steak sandwich (concessions) – cheese can be left off by customer request
Garden burger (concessions)
Veggie hot dog (concessions)
Cheese pizza (concessions/club)
Nachos (concessions/club)
Soft pretzels (concessions/club)
French fries (concessions/club)
Popcorn (concessions/club)
Cracker Jack (concessions/club)
Ice cream (concessions/club)
Water ice (concessions)
Black bean burger (concessions)
Veggie Wrap (club) – Not made with cheese
Roasted Garlic  Hummus and pita chips (suites)
Skillet macaroni and cheese (suites)
Roasted seasonal vegetables (suites)
LFF Bar mix (suites)
Locally Farmed Vegetable Platter (suites)
Cole Slaw (suites)
Cheese Pizza (suites)
Seasonal Fresh fruit platter (suites)
Wild Mushroom Cannelloni (suites)
Vege/Sweet Potato Chips (clubs)
Chickie’s and Pete’s Fries with cheese (concessions)
Fresh Braided Pretzel (concessions)
Cotton candy (concessions)
Dip n Dots (concessions)
Assorted Candy (concessions)
Assorted Stuffed Pretzels (concessions)

New in Concessions
We will be featuring a vegetarian mobile food truck on the Headhouse Plaza during an Eagles game this season.

  • Veggie Wrap (concessions) – sharp provolone, roasted eggplant, and roasted peppers. customer can request no cheese.
  • Seitan Brisket (concessions)
  • Froose Gummy Snacks (concessions)
  • Tastykakes (concessions)
  • Johnson’s Popcorn (concessions)
  • Tony Lukes Dusted French Fries (concessions)
  • Sweet Christine’s Brownies (concessions)
  • Sweet Christine’s Cookies (concessions)
  • Mozzarella Sticks (concessions)

New In Suites

  • Head House Greek Salad (suites)
  • Pistachios (suites)
  • Grilled Vegetable Hoagie (suites)
  • Vegetable Pizza (Suites)

Have a great football season everyone and we look forward to seeing you at Lincoln Financial Field this year.

Kevin Tedesco
General Manager
l ARAMARK at Lincoln Financial Field
Home of the Philadelphia Eagles

Go Tigers! (guest blog from “Vegan Wannabe”)

My name is Sherry and I write a veg lifestyles blog called Exploits of a Vegan Wannabe.   I’m thrilled to share with you how the work of Soy Happy helped transform an ordinary Major League Baseball experience for me into a feast for the senses.

I have been vegetarian for fourteen years and vegan for a year and a half. The weekend I decided to dive into veganism, I created the blog to share the journey with anyone interested in changing the world one meal at a time. I believe that great change begins with one person starting one step at a time, doing what they can with what they have. Change does not require a contingency of people overhauling their lives, but one person deciding to make a compassionate choice each time they have the opportunity.

Becoming vegan felt daunting to me, even though I was already vegetarian. I thought….” If I don’t eat cheese, what will I eat?” What will I eat on pizza or at restaurants or cocktail parties? I also thought that being vegan meant that I had to not only be knowledgeable, but out-spoken, always trying to convert or change others. What I found was that like most things, it was up to me to decide how I wanted my veganism to unfold.  I have realized that to me, being vegan means that I will actively pursue the most compassionate choice every single time I am able. I have allowed this transition to unfold in my own time and space which has made it not only manageable but sustainable.

So, the past year has been a year full of firsts for me….my first vegan Christmas, my first vegan birthday cake and my first summer watching the Detroit Tigers rock out Comerica Park as a vegan.  Going to a Tigers game has always epitomized the summer experience to me. I love the sun, the crowds and the icy cold beer. I used to love the nachos with extra jalapenos and the Melting Moments ice cream cookie sandwiches.

Nevertheless, there we were with tickets to a game, lamenting the lack of vegan edibles to enjoy at the ballpark. We decided to search our options on the ballpark website, instead of automatically admitting defeat. Right there on the concession website was the name of the vendor and its location in the park where we would find veggie burgers, black bean burgers, veggie Italian sausage and the Holy Grail….vegan ballpark franks. We were beside ourselves with edible anticipation.  I tried not to internalize the joy for fear of it not coming true.

As we entered the beautiful Comerica Park, I wanted to go right to the food vendor in question, but my spouse wanted to check out our seats first. I waited patiently as we sang the National Anthem, then I bolted down the 300 flights of stairs to the atrium of food vendors. There it was, the stand of vegan happiness. I walked up to the concession worker and proudly asked, “May I please have the Veggie Dog Basket, hold the slaw? Thank you.”  Because I asked for no slaw, she doubled my chips and pickles for no charge.  Seriously?  They make all veggie options to order, so the dogs were hot and fresh…..no sitting on the greasy, rotating, hot dog heating element.  I slathered my dogs in bright yellow mustard, ketchup and dill relish. They were almost too amazing to eat…but I did it anyway. They were the best veggie dogs I have ever had. As I sat there watching my hometown team play America’s favorite game, I felt like a part of a Norman Rockwell picture, the updated vegan version of course.

Experiences like this have helped me realize that being vegan does not have to mean that I am left out or left behind. Because of the work of organizations like Soy Happy, there are more and more vegetarian and vegan options popping up in large scale and mainstream venues all over the country. People looking for the  veg option no longer have to choose between traditions we love, like enjoying a hot dog at a major league baseball game, or making the compassionate choice. We can do both. It was the most fun game I have ever attended.  At the time, I did not even know that Soy Happy existed and now I know who to thank for such a memorable experience. Making veg options available in venues like stadiums, goes a long way in demystifying vegetarian food. If it is available, people will choose it because it is a tasty and healthy option for your body and the environment.  Sounds like the perfect solution to me. Thank you Soy Happy for continuing to make that choice available in parks and venues across the country.

Play ball!

Sherry

www.ExploitsofaVeganWannabe.com

Intro from Angels SH Manager

My name is Annette Lam and I’m excited to be the new Soy Happy Manager for the Angels!  I’ve been bookmarking the Soy Happy website on every computer device I’ve had for years.  One of my goals is to visit every Major League Baseball stadium and part of every experience is enjoying a hot dog and drink.  As a vegetarian for 5-6 years, it’s been difficult, since not all the ballparks have viable vegetarian options.  That’s why I’ve been constantly checking the Soy Happy Reference page for updates in their listing of all the vegetarian options available. The Soy Happy approach is the same one I use when informing others about vegetarianism: positive and encouraging, with informational tools and resources at the ready.

This past season, I was a bit “upset” at the lack of information when I was at the Angels ballpark.  The Info Booths were uninformed of where their vegetarian items were located.  So I guess I have a lot of communicating to do for next season.  I’m up for the challenge!  I would love to be able to go to the ballpark and purchase vegetarian items at any concession stand!

I spend most of my time with my family – my husband and two adorable dogs.   I look forward to seeing you at an Angels game enjoying a veggie dog.  “LET’S GO ANGELS!”

If you’d like to contact me, please email me at aloha_netty@yahoo.com.

Guest bloggers welcomed

Soy Happy functions as a network of support for individual consumers, businesses and organizations who want to see more viable vegetarian/vegan options on mainstream menus.  As part of our network, Soy Happy extends an open invitation for anyone who might like to share a post as a guest blogger.

Whether you’re a baseball fan or vegetarian with experiences, ideas and insights you’d like to share;  an integral player in the world of foodservice (manufacturers, distributors, concession managers, account reps, etc.); or a rep from an organization or website interested in the same issues as Soy Happy…we invite you to share your post ideas with us!

To submit a guest post for consideration, please send us your proposed column/post idea with “guest blog submission” in the heading and email it to info@soyhappy.org.  We’ll get back to you!

Intro from Brewers’ SH Manager

This comes from our new volunteer Veggie Happy Manager for the Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park:

Hello!  My name is Michelle Boening (rhymes with ‘raining’) and I’m excited to be the Veggie Happy contact for Miller Park!  I have been a vegetarian for five years, and a Brewers season ticket holder for seven years.  This year I will begin my 14th year as a first grade teacher with the St. Francis Public School District.  My wonderful and supportive husband Paul and I share our home with our dog, Macca; our rabbit, Vera and our hermit crabs – Jeremy, Prudence and Pam.  I am currently enrolled in the Master’s of Education program through Carroll University, and will be graduating in May 2012.

BrewersMgr
I am attaching my photo with a delicious veggie dog in hand next to a Prince Fielder statue at Miller Park.

It’s very important to me to have options when I go to a baseball game at Miller Park.  Currently the stadium has several choices for fans who would prefer a meat-free meal.  I would like to work with Miller Park to include even more choices, perhaps starting with a veggie burger.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous to see a racing veggie dog amongst the others at Miller Park??  A sandwich chain like Subway would also provide baseball fans with a plethora of food options.

I’m open to new ideas, and I invite you to share any thoughts or questions with me via e-mail. Maybe we could have a Veggie Happy! group attend a baseball game together?  (Click here to go to the Miller Park listing on the Venue Reference page.)

Peacefully yours,
Michelle Boening (mboening38@gmail.com)

Donations to Soy Happy

Click here to go to Soy Happy’s donation page.

Soy Happy has been functioning as a public service since 2000.  We have helped to open the door to veggie dogs in 21 Major League Baseball stadiums (to date) and have generated nationwide media attention, including features in Sports Illustrated, USA Today‘s Sunday magazine, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN radio, the Vegetarian Times, and many, many others.

We continue to have regular communication with all the ballparks and offer free consultation and assistance to other concessionaires and public eateries.  As part of our advocacy work, we liaison with a wide variety of vegetarian manufacturers and network with many organizations.  We also speak at events and conferences, organize group outings, and issue press releases.  Our website is our principal tool and we continually update our Venue Reference Guide along with posting items to our blog and our Facebook page.  The majority of our work in promoting vegetarian fare and advocating for consumers has been done without an income to help with the associated costs.   Naturally, this has limited the scope of our work.

A few months ago, we received a message from Betsy Reilly in Milwaukee who had read about Soy Happy in a news publication of the Humane Society of the United States.  She wanted to donate to our cause.  It hadn’t occurred to us to ask for financial donations from supporters, as we are not a 501c3 non-profit organization and therefore are not able to offer donors the tax deductible benefits associated with any contributions.   Betsy understood this and insisted that we accept her generous donation.  She also enthusiastically encouraged us to set up a donation option online so others could do the same.  Thanks to Betsy’s encouragement, we’ve done just that. 

Our donation page is now up.   Donations can be made easily using a credit card or a Paypal account.

Click here to go to Soy Happy’s donation page.

We very much appreciate your consideration.  We will be grateful for any financial gifts that you might be able to offer to help us continue with our advocacy work.

Health & Happiness,

Johanna McCloy
Founder/Director