Currently viewing the tag: "stadium"

Ah, the emergence of the mainstream health-conscious movement, helping to increase the demand for veg-friendly food amongst the meat-heavy American fare of sports venues, I thank you. Your reasons are far more socially-acceptable… yes, the size of our behinds truly is more important than the the welfare of millions of animals. But allow my veganism to reap the benefits of your movement. Allow me, also, to partake in overpriced stadium grub this baseball season! Yes, veggie options are sweeping the nation.

Many don’t realize that plenty of ballparks across the country offer veggie food. Most impressive is Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, which offers vegan “crab” cakes and vegan Philly cheesesteaks along with veggie hot dogs and burgers, and AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, which offers dogs, burgers, portobello sandwiches, sushi and dumplings. Both of these stadiums aced PETA’s top-10 list of veggie-friendly ballparks along with the Houston, Detroit, Colorado, Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles Milwaukee, Minnesota and Cleveland. And vegans can find much more beyond these cities too…. but veg-option turnover is a big problem. After all, demand is low; let’s be honest. After traveling to Nationals Park on a lead last season I was disappointed to learn that they no longer stocked veggie dogs or burgers (hear me whine here) while my visit to Fenway during the 2008 season (here) was a bit too soon, as they now are reported to have both veggie dogs and franks. Luckily Soyhappy, a consumer advocacy group that fights for veggie options in mainstream menus, has compiled thorough up-to-date research on all 30 Major League ballparks, including gate locations, important dietary notes on buns and condiments, as well as links to the emails of concession managers. On the back of their great body of research, I add my own two cents:

Vegan at Citi Field 2010.

In 2009, when Citi Field was brand-spanking new, vegan pickings were slimmer. (My first vegan report was a bit of a stretch.) But 2010 marked a leap forward. Citi Field, the home of The Mets, now offers veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs! I had been pining to make my first trip of the season since I learned the news. 40 days from the date of the press release, I was there to report on these options… and to see them beat the Florida Marlins. I arrived early and eager, sweating already from the unseasonable temps. I moved swiftly, following the gate locations Soyhappy listed on their website, ready for disappointment and confused concession services works. Then I saw it… “Light Options”… the Yves Veggie Cuisine logo… “VEGGIE”!! A word, to me, that illuminates on its own.

I did some research before my trip to Citi Field and felt confidant that the “Spicy Veggie Hot Dog” was Yves Veggie’s Hot & Spicy Chili Dog (a product listed on their Canadian website and not their American) and that they left off the “chili” so as to not skew the expectations of consumers who’d expect a dog topped with chili. This product is listed as vegan on their website. So let’s start there. I ordered the dog, loading up the frank with the traditional complimentary fixings, sweet relish, ketchup, mustard and warm sauerkraut, and waited eagerly for us to find and settle into our seats. From the looks of it, the veggie hot dog was not grilled or boiled, but likely nuked? The skin was dry, which I’d much prefer to the grease of a omnivorous grill. The concession stand man confirmed that these veggie options are cooked separately. But biting a hot dog from a Nathan’s cardboard box once finally in my seat, I panicked a little. But vegan it was, and scrumptious. 

Now, the burger. Though Soyhappy reported it was confirmed vegan, my 17 years of veggie burger eating told me otherwise. It looked suspect, so I didn’t eat it. I tried to find the burger’s ingredients beforehand, like I had done with the veggie hot dog. Again, no such product as the “Harvest Veggie Burger” on their American site. But Yves Veggie’s ingredient list for their Harvest Bistro Burger, on their Canadian site, contained egg albumen. Visiting the site again, upon my return home, I was sure it was the same burger and not vegan. But here it is below nonetheless.

Both the veggie dog and burgers are available in “Dogs & Burgers” concession stands throughout the park. The concessions stands at gates 112, 123, 406, 423 and 435 I was able to verify firsthand. Soyhappy also lists them to be available at 303, 312, 325, 337 and 414 but I didn’t have access to these gates. Other options are also abound! Let’s look at them…

A large fry to share from Box Frites has become a tradition of sorts. Fries are easy. Vegetable oil is the industry standard now and the non-vegan condiments are pre-packed in their own little wasteful plastic containers. These “fancy” fries are $8, 50 cents more than last season, although significantly smaller. They’re delicious, yes, as any French fry is. Compared to the other stadium fries they’re fried evenly and with a great, consistent texture and are doused heavily in salt. For $3 cheaper you can get Nathan’s famous French fries, which I’ve found are often cooked in cross-contaminated oil… i.e. they kind of taste like chicken wings. I’ll stick to Box Frites for that peace of mind but… I’ll skip the chipotle ketchup.

Citi Field’s World Fare Market has some Asian cuisine, prepared salads, fruits and nuts within that are clearly vegan… none of which looks very appetizing. But on this little stand outside the World’s Fare entrance had some nice-looking fruit and some fresh-cut fruit salads. Look on the bottom of the display there… those 7 fruits salads… those were all there were a good hour before first pitch. So I’m sure they go quick. I had to pick one up just for the sheer variety: blackberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. What a combo!

What was more shocking then the spread inside the fruit salad was its price. $3.50. In a stadium where a bottle of water is $4, a beef hot dog is $6 and a beer is $7, we have this amazing fruit salad for $3.50.

An exclusive gluten-free (but non-vegan) stand is also outside of World’s Fare with the works. What a treat for one with no tolerance for gluten! And not having to worry about cross-contamination makes a big difference to some Celiacs. Let’s Go Mets!

Now, like on the road, a Subway, proponents of the mainstream health-conscious and its rise to power, is always at the next rest area. And they offer their vegetarian Veggiemax patty as well as their Veggie Delite. As always, the Italian bread is vegan and the honey wheat and the cheese-top breads are not. Kudos to Subway for listing pertinent ingredients in their website’s FAQ. It’s pretty special when an eatery can confirm their stearoyl-2-lactylate and the mono- and diglycerides preservatives to be of plant origin. And kudos to the vegans who made this question a frequent one, prompting it to be one of several vegan questions on the FAQ.

Other vegan fare I saw at Citi Field: soft pretzels, peanuts, crackerjacks, kettle corn (most likely) and fried dough (most likely). I am sure I’ll be back to report further on these and other vegan items. Citi is also lax about stadium-goers bringing in food. So vegan accompaniments, dips and spreads can truly liven up sides and up the foodie factor on the cheap. A big thanks to Citi Field to yielding to the diverse eating habits of Mets fans. Now, play ball!