Originally Published: August 10, 2006 4 a.m.
Hot dogs have been a ballpark staple since Harry M. Stevens, founder of the concessions company that bears his name, began hawking "red hot dachshunds" at a New York Giants game in 1901. In many ballparks today, the original has company. Can you say, gimme a Š veggie dog?
PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, recently announced its 2006 Top Ten Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks. Topping the list is AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The Giants may be struggling in the National League West, but AT&T Park can claim a first: It is the first stadium to be twice named the #1 Vegetarian-Friendly Ballpark.
PETA describes the fare at AT&T Ballpark in glowing terms, gushing that the ballpark sets "a new high-water mark for animal friendly excellence." PETA raves about such non-meat options as the Gardenburgers, edamame (boiled soybeans in the pod), a grilled veggie baguette, veggie hot dogs, and vegetarian sushi.
Even if you aren't tempted by the veggie offerings at your favorite ballpark, you've got to hand it to PETA for being objective. Third on the list of ballparks offering "cruelty-free" fare was PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres. PETA lobbied vigorously against the name, alleging that PETCO treated its adoptive animals cruelly.
The Milwaukee Brewers, another former target of PETA's, saw their ballpark, Miller Park, finish in a tie for 10th place with Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.
PETA waged an unsuccessful campaign to have the Brewers include a veggie dog in their world famous Sausage Race, an entertainment staple at every home game. The Brewers recently added a Chorizo to the lineup of beef and pork products the others being the Italian, bratwurst, Polish and hot dog that participate in the race, but still no veggie dog.
So are veggie options causing the meat lovers among us to alter our cholesterol-laden habits at sporting events? According to the National Hot Dog And Sausage Council, the answer is no.
Fans at Major League ballparks this summer are expected to consume 29.5 million hot dogs and sausages, an increase of two million wieners over last year's figure. According to the Council, veggie dogs aren't considered competition for the meat industry, but rather an alternative for sports fans that happen to be non-meat eaters.
PETA disagrees. In a recent press release, the organization suggests, "If fans knew about the pig lips and intestines in those meat hot dogs, they'd turn greener than the outfield grass in April."
As someone who grew up in the meat business and watched hot dogs being made on a regular basis, I'll pass on the overpriced beer. But give me the hot dog over the edamame any day.
(Jordan Kobritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)