MetLife Stadium now offering vegan franks and burgers

New York’s MetLife Stadium, home to the NFL’s Jets and Giants, introduced vegan frankfurters and burgers to its menu two weeks ago. We’re Veggie Happy to have helped make that possible! The regular season is now over, but you can get them at all future events there. They’re sold from the portable stand at section 144.

Happy New Year!

 

Bold Vegan cookbook offer

cover_with_nealVeggie Happy director Johanna McCloy and her husband Henri Laborde had the honor of being among the initial reviewers of a wonderful cookbook, “Bold Vegan: Food for the Body & Soul” which is now available in digital and print formats.

The authors are extending this special offer:

We would like to extend a sweet deal to Veggie Happy supporters ($10 for a digital copy of the new book, regularly $14.99).]

To get this digital book discount, please go to their eBook link and put in this coupon code: boldlove

For our review, here is a blurb they are using for the book:

“We must have 10 vegan cookbooks on the shelf collecting dust because the recipes are either too complicated for every day cooking or the finished meals are uninspiring. Bold Vegan: Food for the Body and Soul is different. It has everything we want in a cookbook. The recipes are easy to follow; the  ingredients consist of items we stock, with few exceptions; the preparation time is reasonable for a working adult; the dishes are fun and inspiring to make; and the finished meals are delicious. Not to mention, the photos are beautiful!”
Johanna McCloy & Henri Laborde, Actor & Avid Home Cooks 

Go to their website to peruse the gorgeous photos and easy-to-make recipes. You’ll be salivating in no time.  We guarantee it.

Cheers!

 

Turkey talk 2013

turkey_270x224It’s almost Thanksgiving and everyone’s talking turkey again. We thought we’d chime in and talk about turkeys, too. After all, it is their day, right?

Have you read or seen the recent news about Butterball announcing a shortage of their big turkeys this year?  People are wondering why, but Butterball isn’t telling them. Here’s a possible reason: the turkeys either got very sick or they died. A little background as to why:

”Two decades ago the goal of every grower was to ensure that the flock grew as rapidly as possible. However, the industry has developed a broiler that, if grown as rapidly as possible, will achieve a body mass that cannot be supported by the bird’s heart, respiratory system or skeleton. The situation has forced growers to make a choice. Is it more profitable to grow the biggest bird possible and have increased mortality due to heart attacks, ascites, and leg problems…? A large portion of growers’ pay is based on the pound of saleable meat produced, so simple calculations suggest that it is better to get the weight and ignore the mortality.” –  a prominent poultry researcher as quoted by the Humane Society of the United States

Knowledge is power. Thus, an informed consumer is a powerful one. Read more information on the turkey industry from Farm Sanctuary.

Disinclined to eat turkeys, but still wanting that taste and experience? Choose a plant-based option like Field Roast’s Celebration Roast, which is vegan, or Quorn’s Turk’y Roast (this one has egg-white) as the center of your plate! Both can be found in the frozen foods section of Whole Foods and other large grocery stores. You can also choose from HSUS’s delicious Thanksgiving recipes online or simply do an online search of “vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes” for lots and lots of additional yummy ideas.

Wishing everyone a peace-filled Thanksgiving.

 

 

Farm Bill needs your input

There is serious concern about the proposed King amendment to the Farm Bill currently being considered by Congress, because it would make state farm animal anti-cruelty laws ineffective. Read the article about this in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

An excerpt from that article:

His immediate target was California’s Proposition 2, passed by voters in 2008, which requires that cages for veal calves, pregnant sows and egg-laying hens allow the animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely. It is set to take effect in 2015.

Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, which helped pass Prop. 2, said the King amendment is written so broadly that it would eliminate all state laws imposing “a standard or condition” on any farm product. “Most of agribusiness supports King because in one fell swoop they could eliminate entire classes of laws,” Pacelle said.

Please take a few minutes for the animals and sign the petition from the Humane SocietyThe petition also provides an easy link to get a list of your government representatives for quick calls with your comments. They need to hear from their constituents, especially those outside California.

 

QSR magazine touts strong promotion of healthy new menu items

QSR, the fast food and quick service industry magazine, just ran a feature article on Burger King’s successful promotion of its new Satisfries. According to the article, BK’s Facebook fans grew by 40% after the announcement and fan engagement has skyrocketed.

Excerpt from the article:

Unmetric CEO Lux Narayan says the Satisfries social campaign may be the best thing that has ever happened to Burger King.

“The quick-service business does not respond to miniature ideas.”

“It’s fantastic that a brand has the courage to do something that is so big,” he says. “If more and more brands start thinking like people,” they’ll be more successful with social campaigns, Narayan adds.

Gary Stibel, founder and CEO of marketing management consultant New England Consulting Group, says Burger King’s powerful marketing push is not only a positive move for the brand, but also the most logical one.

“It’s foolish to take small initiatives in the [quick-service] business,” he says. “The [quick-service] business does not respond to miniature ideas.”

Stibel adds that many quick-service brands make the mistake of promoting new menu development in a series of small steps. “They’d be far better off focusing on big opportunities and putting the weight of the business behind them,” as Burger King has done with the Satisfries campaign, he says.

Though there’s always the risk of putting too much money, advertising, and other marketing power behind a product that’s unproven on the market, Stibel says, the bigger risk is “that you waste your newness by waiting to see if it’s going to be successful, and then you support it when it’s old news.”

New is a powerful, powerful word,” he says. “To waste the newness of a new product waiting to see if it’s going to work or not is foolish.”

This is valuable information for the concessions industry, too. Veggie Happy always emphasizes the importance of  fan awareness when we facilitate new options on a concessions menu. For many venues, the addition of healthier, vegan options happens under the radar, disallowing customers to become aware that these new options even exist.

At the very least, we tell venues, do these three things to ensure the minimum level of fan awareness: 1) include the new menu item on all online and printed menu listings right away, 2) inform all food workers about the new option, so that they can answer customer questions and direct them as needed to the appropriate stands, and 3) place clearly visible signage for the new menu item wherever it is being sold.

May this article help illuminate what concessionaires are missing by not celebrating new plant-based menu options: an opportunity to heighten fan support and sales.

Link to the article here: “New Fast Food Menu Product Promotion Goes Big”

 

PERSPECTIVES: “Diversifying menu options for our fans at CenturyLink Field”

This guest blog is part of our “Perspectives on the Food Business”series. This comes from Matthew Krauss, Assistant General Manager and Operations Director for Sportservice at CenturyLink Field (home of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC). Krauss was formerly Operations Manager for Sportservice at U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox), the first MLB stadium to heed Veggie Happy’s request for veggie dogs in concession stands. This season, Veggie Happy helped to facilitate vegan frankfurters and burgers at CenturyLink Field from Seattle’s own Field Roast Grain Meat Company. (See CenturyLink Field’s full veg menu listing in our Venue Guide.)

The sports hospitality landscape has changed drastically in the last 20 years. Consumer demands of dietary needs and healthy menu items have grown with everything else in the sports hospitality industry. With bigger business and higher price tickets comes a heightened expectation by the fans. Our goal is to always meet and hopefully exceed their expectations. Original menu creation and diverse food options give the venue character and excitement. It’s not just hot dogs, peanuts, chocolate malt cups, and stale beer in wax cups (see Tiger’s menu from the early 70’s below). I witnessed the movement the first 10 years as a paying consumer (suites, new stadiums, in-seat service). The last 10 years I have been fortunate enough to actually get paid to influence the movement and manage the growth within the industry.

Tigers Menu from 1970s
Tigers Menu from 1970s

As a leader in the industry my philosophy has been to bring what’s best of the city to the venues. The soul of a city is through its food and that food can create character and warmth that the steel and concrete do not. I have also learned diversifying menu options is a must in this competitive industry to match the diversified tastes and wants of our fans.

Vegetarian and Gluten Free options have been a big push over the last 5 years.  The key to these menu items are to provide and serve them in a quality way. Gummy bears (gluten free) and nachos (vegetarian) were the norm not too long ago in regards to special dietary needs menus in stadiums.  With help from fans and vendors availability and quality of these options have grown exponentially.

As an operator there are quite a few challenges when planning dietary menus in concessions at stadiums. Most people don’t realize the preparation, logistics, and the planning that goes into servicing tens of thousands of people in a time span of a couple hours. Maximizing service and keeping food quality consistent are the focus once doors open up. This can only be done if menus are planned out properly and organized in locations that can properly serve these items.

This past summer while taking over operations of CenturyLink Field in Seattle fans were vocal about our decision to remove “veggie burgers” from the club level. The reasoning behind the decision wasn’t because of financial numbers, but because of standards to keep these items to the quality the fans deserve. Not only is it beneficial for an operator to keep special items (like vegan and gluten free) in specific areas for pure logistic reasons but it also insures quality and consistency of these items as they need to be prepared properly. I ended up changing the veggie burger to a vegan burger and to assure proper preparation this item needed to be prepared and cooked at separate grills to prevent cross-contamination.

A good operator will not only find a diverse creative menu and incorporate vegetarian options around the venue but will also look for opportunity to create a couple specific menu concepts spots in strategic locations that strictly focus on those specialty items (whether it be dietary, healthy, or any concept options). It is also vital for the fan base to know where all options and items are in a venue.  MLB “At The Ballpark” app, Seattle Seahawks app, veggiehappy.com, and many other sources have been a great help to improve guest experiences at venues.

We aren’t saving lives (with healthier food options I like to think we are helping). Our job is to make our fans (guests) have memorable moments on and off the field of entertainment.

Any reprint of this article must be requested and approved from Veggie Happy. Please contact us at info@veggiehappy.com

Two touchdowns for vegan options

We’re proud to have helped open the door to vegan frankfurters and specialty vegan burgers at the Seattle Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field this season. They will be sold from a veggie cart on the east side of the main concourse (exact location still TBD as of this posting, check their listing in our NFL Vegetarian Guide for any updates.) San Francisco 49ers‘ Candlestick Park also confirmed vegan franks and specialty burgers on their menu this year.

“Johanna was been a great resource for the sports hospitality industry and for myself in regards to menu consulting. She has promoted and measured stadium menus all around the country while connecting vendors with service providers. Her services are very valuable for not only to the guests who are looking up the menus but for the operators as well.” – Matthew Krauss, Assistant General Manager and Operations Director, Delaware North Sportservice at CenturyLink Field

When a venue does well with a new item, it creates understandable interest from concession management staff at other large sporting venues. CenturyLink Field joins its neighbor Safeco Field (home to MLB’s Seattle Mariners) in offering Field Roast franks and specialty burgers to their fans. Safeco Field saw a dramatic rise in category sales after switching to Field Roast products several years ago and other venues quickly took heed. With our help, San Francisco Giants‘ AT&T Park and Cleveland Indians‘ Progressive Field also added these items and noted better sales after making the switch. San Francisco 49ers’ Candlestick Park followed their lead by offering these items soon thereafter.

“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 Centerplate, AT&T Park

Interest in plant-based options goes well beyond the vegetarian or vegan population. Just this week Mintel, a reputable and award winning market research company, posted a study titled: “More than one-third of Americans consume meat alternatives, but only a fraction are actually vegetarians.” Veggie Happy always emphasizes the importance of choosing vegan foods that appeal to flexitarian eaters for this very reason. We only encourage foods and brands that are popular across a wide spectrum of consumers. (Translation? Sales!)

Here’s an excerpt from the study:

 In new research released today from Mintel, only 7% of consumers identify themselves as vegetarian, however 36% indicate the use of meat alternatives.

“This data suggests that participation in the alternative meat category stretches far beyond necessity, and creates an opportunity for future growth based on the products’ ability to meet general consumer food interests, such as health, price, variety and convenience,” says Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst at Mintel. “The bottom line is that vegetarians and vegans aren’t the only people eating “fake” meat, meat eaters are also exploring this new found protein superpower.”

Concessions at Safeco Field, AT&T Park and Candlestick Park are managed by Centerplate. CenturyLink Field’s new concession management company this year is Delaware North Sportservice, which runs the concessions at Progressive Field as well.

Fan/customer feedback is an important part of the recipe for change at any and all venues. Be sure to check our Venue Vegetarian Guide for all MLB and NFL listings and to contact your favorite and local venues to provide menu suggestions and/or to offer your thanks!

 

Trend reports highlight increased demand for plant-based options

Two recently released food trend reports highlight the growing demand for plant-based options. The first of these reports was presented by a trendologist with a company called CCD Innovation at the Fancy Food Show in New York. The title of the presentation was “From Cafeteria to Market: How Campus Millennials Shape Culinary Trends of Tomorrow.” Here’s an excerpt from an article about this report in Supermarket News:

Many respondents are dining along the meatless spectrum and practicing vegetarian, vegan, raw and flexitarian diets, some for the first time.
“I have been introduced to a lot more vegetables and meatless dishes because my roommate is vegetarian and wants me to try her foods,” said one respondent.
Campus dining halls, with their innovative and contemporary menus, are also exposing students to a range of food.

This brings to mind the “vegetarian veto vote,” whereby one vegetarian or vegan in a group with six to eight non-vegetarians will influence that group to go to an establishment where vegetarians can be accommodated. With a growing number or consumers preferring vegetarian options, restaurants and other foodservice providers will do well to heed their demand.

The second is the “2013 Burger Consumer Trend Report” from Technomic, the leading fact-based consulting and research firm serving the food industry. Here are some interesting mentions in this report:

  • 95% of consumers said they eat burgers (including nonbeef and nonmeat versions) at least once a month
  • high-quality vegetable toppings now suggest a “premium” burger for more than half (52%) of consumers, up from 46% in 2011
  • 23% of consumers said that it’s important that burger serving restaurants offer vegan burgers.

Technomic’s blog about their report ends on this note: “Knowing how consumers’ priorities are shifting and how these shifts may affect their view of a particular brand is absolutely worthwhile.”

These two trend reports are among many others that reflect what Veggie Happy has been conveying to concession managers all over the country: consumer demand for plant-based options is not only real, it is growing.

It’s important to note that many consumers who choose plant based options happen to be flexitarians who also eat meat or dairy. Thus, our advice to foodservice directors: offer foods that have proven popularity with flexitarian consumers. Know what sells and why. (We advise on that and can facilitate samples for tastings.) When they do this,  customers and sales alike will be healthier and happier for it!

Special thanks to Joe Jordan at Katahdin Ventures for informing us of these two studies.

 

Veggie Options Score Runs at MLB Stadiums

Our recent release:
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 cheese 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.

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Contact:          Johanna McCloy

About Veggie Happy:

In 2000, Johanna attended her first Major League Baseball game and found no viable vegetarian menu options in the entire stadium. She realized that many fans were either bringing their own food or eating before or after the game, so she decided to speak up. She compiled statistics on the rise in demand for vegetarian options and presented her menu suggestions to the concession manager. In particular, she suggested the addition of a vegetarian hot dog.

She contacted every MLB park and offered her assistance as a liaison with popular manufacturers. She also reached out to baseball fans, consumer groups and supportive organizations, encouraging them to chime in. The Veggie Happy website (then called Soy Happy) was created as a resource, complete with an online Venue Vegetarian Guide listing every stadium’s menu and contact information.

Fans started to speak up, celebrities offered endorsements, media paid attention, and concession managers responded. When Veggie Happy started, none of the MLB parks offered veggie dogs. By opening day 2013, 26 of 30 MLB parks offered veggie dogs or frankfurters on their menus, many of them with our assistance. In 2003, Veggie Happy also acted as media and outreach coordinator for the Healthy School Lunch Resolution in California.

Veggie Happy continues to provide consultation for stadiums and foodservice establishments. We have helped to facilitate everything from vegetarian frankfurters and specialty burgers to non-dairy cheese, gluten free snack chips and vegan desserts.

Veggie Happy advocates not only for vegetarians and vegans, but for “flexitarians” as well. To this end, we only promote foods with proven appeal and popularity across a wide spectrum of consumers.