Veggie Happy created Veggie Happy Day as a way to honor and celebrate the power of customer feedback. It’s been our experience that fan feedback at the ballparks played a key role in helping us open the door to vegan options there. Just think if everyone took the time to chime in at the food establishments they frequent (or don’t frequent for that matter, because of the lack of options), what a wave of positive change that could create!
We selected January 10 as Veggie Happy Day (formerly Soy Happy Day) for two reasons:
- Major League Baseball stadiums are about to begin the process of reviewing their menus for the coming season, and now is the optimal time for fans to begin chiming in with their suggestions and feedback on vegan food items they want them to either keep, change or add. They’ll be looking at all fan comments and suggestions as part of their considerations starting now through spring training. (Four MLB stadiums remain without a veggie dog/vegan frankfurter on the regular concessions menu as of last season: the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.)
- It’s a fabulous way to start the new year with a feeling of hope, pride and accomplishment, no matter what food establishments you decide to contact. You might be surprised at the difference your one comment can make!
When you offer your feedback, consider a couple of other things, too. It’s not enough for vegan items to be available; they have to be clearly and easily evident on the menu, and all staff should be aware of their availability and locations. After all, if customers don’t know these options are available, they won’t sell the way they could or should, and are sometimes destined to fail as a result. Veggie Happy has had the unfortunate experience of receiving emails from frustrated fans who know vegan options are supposed to be available at a given stadium (having checked our Venue Vegetarian Guide), but still have a hard time tracking them down. How is that situation going to stimulate any sales?
Recent headlines about McDonalds eschewing veggie burgers because “no one buys them” is another example. They state that they tested veggie burgers in certain markets and didn’t generate adequate sales. First, this was back in 2003, so there’s some catching-up to do, but also, how big a promotion did they create to ensure that customers realized they were available?
Burger King has been offering veggie burgers since 2002 and guess what? Any group of people with a vegetarian in its midst has likely chosen Burger King over McDonalds every time. The Vegetarian Resource Group calls this “the vegetarian veto vote,” and it’s a powerful vote indeed. One person will divert an entire group of diners to another location that offers a viable option for that individual, causing the other establishment to lose out on “mainstream” customers as well. (It merits noting, by the way, that the BK Veggie Burger is not vegan. It’s a sponsored product, meaning that the brand pays big bucks for the privilege of being named. When sponsorship is involved, it can take a while to change, so all the more reason for them to receive and compile customer requests for a vegan brand instead.)
Chipotle offers a totally different example in its approach to offering vegan options. It has done a fabulous job of actively and widely promoting its new Sofritas menu and ensuring that signage is clear and well positioned so customers recognize it exists. It’s no surprise that their vegan Sofritas are doing well.
The same is true for the ballparks. Seattle’s Safeco Field saw sales of Field Roast vegan frankfurters spike 700% over its previous generic veggie dogs during one season, in part because it promoted the new menu item (including custom vegan topping options) and made sure fans were aware it existed. This should be an example to all ballparks.
Whether you contact a ballpark or another foodservice establishment for Veggie Happy Day, consider these basic questions: Do they offer what you want? If they do, is it easy for all customers to know it’s available? Chime in and let your voice be heard. Sometimes just one fan’s suggestion has made the difference in as large a venue as an MLB or NFL stadium.
Here’s to you, making a difference!