Plant-based menus: trend to movement

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!

A book plug from Johanna

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 . . .

Vegan fare at TX Rangers ballpark: guest blog from Twalla

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!

 

More MLB vegan firsts

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!

The Butcher’s Daughter and Adam & Eve

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!