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Major League Baseball goes to bat for flexitarians
Berkeley, CA.- Major League Baseball is going to bat for flexitarians this year, offering more vegetarian and vegan items on the menu than ever before. On opening day, 21 MLB stadiums will be offering veggie dogs to happy fans all over the country.
The consumer advocacy service Veggie Happy remains busy consulting with MLB foodservice directors and facilitating new vegetarian and vegan menu options for 2012. The Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field and San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park have already placed orders for a new vegan frankfurter this season. Safeco Field will also have a designated veggie frankfurter cart offering a variety of specialized toppings.
“Flexitarians” are defined as individuals who eat a plant-based diet most, but not all, of the time. Their rise in the population is being noted. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts we will eat 12.2 per cent less meat and poultry in 2012 than in 2007. In a recent survey, the Allrecipes food site found that more than one-third of U.S. households ate less meat in 2011, mostly for health reasons. And a Harris Poll conducted for The Vegetarian Resource Group shows that one-third of Americans eat a significant amount of vegetarian and vegan meals, even if they’re not vegetarian.
Today, baseball stadiums are vying for the flexitarian dollar. They have come a long way since 2000, when actress Johanna McCloy created Veggie Happy (then, Soy Happy.) McCloy began her quest after attending a baseball game and finding no viable vegetarian options on the menu. She decided to speak up for fans like herself; specifically, requesting that MLB stadiums introduce veggie dogs, as none were currently being offered. With determination and great fan support, she did it. She even received endorsements from Tony La Russa, the former General Manager for the St. Louis Cardinals, and celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Kevin Nealon and others.
“Johanna 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 San Francisco’s AT&T Park
Today, more MLB stadiums are offering veggie burgers and veggie dogs, along with vegetarian burritos, wraps, salads and other items. The Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizens’ Bank Park even offers a dairy and meat free version of the “cheese steak” and a “chicken” sandwich. Already this year, Veggie Happy has received inquiries from ballparks about dairy free dessert options. As plant based foods continue to improve and consumer demand increases, ballparks are doing what they can to ensure a happy and satisfied fan base.
Veggie Happy hears from hundreds of appreciative fans all over the country. Amy Shaffer of Denver, Colorado wrote, ” I just recently made the switch to vegetarianism. I am planning on going to a few baseball games this season, and since I never looked for them at the ballpark before, I was really excited to see your listing of veggie friendly options.” MaryAnn Beland of Atlanta, Georgia wrote, “I am so excited about the veggie options that are becoming increasingly available at ballparks. I was thrilled to purchase a veggie dog at Turner Field! My part-time vegetarian husband (who would much rather eat a veggie dog over a hot dog) totally agreed.”
Veggie Happy helps large arenas by providing a unique hybrid of services: consumer advocacy, vegetarian food consulting, and menu promotion. It not only opens the door to viable vegetarian menu options but also celebrates those options through fun events and local outreach. This year, Veggie Happy will lead several group outings to highlight vegetarian menu options at MLB ballparks. Safeco Field and AT&T Park will be among the stadiums on the schedule.
For more information about Veggie Happy and an updated list of all MLB vegetarian menus, please go to http://www.veggiehappy.com