Most vegetarians remember the days when attending a ball game meant subsisting on popcorn and peanuts -- not bad as snacks go, but let's be honest: Peanuts are no substitute for a ballpark dog. Since 2002, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has ranked ballparks according to the vegetarian options they offer game-watchers. (That'd be a great way to get in your Meatless Monday, if you're following Mario Batali's new trend.) "Coors Field has been on our list every year since we launched the list," notes PETA director Dan Shannon.
The organization looks for two things when putting together the rankings: "For variety of good, delicious vegetarian options, and we're also looking for things that give you that traditional ballpark experience," explains Shannon. "So, at Coors Field, you can get a beer and a veggie dog. That's your typical ballpark experience."
Still, Coors dropped from its third-place slot last year. "They dropped a couple of spots, mostly because we're not aware of anything new that they've added," Shannon explains. "And several other ballparks have added other items. But Coors Field has always ranked highly and has done a good job." The options at Coors include veggie burgers, dogs, wraps, burritos, kabobs, paninis, fresh salads, fruit, roasted portobello sandwiches and made-to-order potato skins.
"If you order a veggie dog rather than a hot dog, you're cutting out all the saturated fat, all the cholesterol -- and at this point, in 2010, you're not sacrificing anything in terms of taste," Shannon contends. "I challenge anybody to try the veggie dog and say it's not just as good as a hot dog. Plus, you're not supporting the factory farming industry. Pigs that are slaughtered for hot dogs are sometimes scalded alive, or their throats are slit while they're still fully conscious."
I happen to agree with him -- most of the flavoring in a hot dog comes from the seasoning, anyway; that leftover slaughterhouse meat they use to make the dogs isn't exactly high on the taste scale. Who's hungry?
Top honors (for the fourth year in a row) went to the Phillies' Citizens Bank Park, which serves faux chicken sandwiches, vegan rice crispie treats, a range of veggie burgers, veggie dogs, faux steak sandwiches, veggie chicken steaks, hummus, fresh fruit and mock crab cakes.
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While eating hummus while watching the Rockies sounds delish, what the hell is in a mock crab cake?! That's a veggie adventure I'd rather not embark upon.
The Giants' AT&T Park came in second place -- they carry California rolls, veggie tamales, vegetable chow fun and broccoli tofu. The Astros' Minute Maid Park took third place (what's up with that, Texas?) with quinoa tabbouleh, sun-dried tomato rigatoni, Thai noodle salad, baby-vegetable ratatouille and more. And the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park offers vegetable fried rice, veggie taco salad, stir-fries, sushi and more. Following Coors Field is the Braves' Turner Field, the Padres' PETCO Park, LA's Angel Stadium, the Brewers' Miller Park, and the Twins' Target Field and the Indians' Progressive field in a two-way tie.
Honorable mentions went to the Red Sox's Fenway Park, the White Sox's U.S. Cellular Field, Oakland's coliseum, Dodger Stadium, Pittsburgh's PNC Park and Seattle's Safeco Field.
All in all, not a bad show for the home of the Rockies: We beat out several California stadiums and even Seattle. But come on, Coors: Let's at least try to beat Texas next year.