Plant-based dining options, including the vegan Impossible Burger, are coming to several Major League Baseball stadiums for the 2018 season. Aramark, a food service company that caters to ten ballparks nationwide and in Canada, has announced the addition of the burger to its menus as part of its healthy living initiative, Healthy for Life 20 by 20, developed in partnership with the American Heart Association. The program seeks to reduce calories, saturated fat, and sodium levels by 20 percent and increase fruits, vegetables, and whole grains by the same amount by 2020.
“Food has become a major player in the fan experience and that increased role is a motivating factor for us to continue to enhance our menu offerings each season.” Carl Mittleman, President of Aramark’s Sports and Entertainment division, told Business Wire. ”Ballpark food has come a long way. In addition to doing the classics well, we’re focusing on driving quality, increasing healthy options, making it convenient and providing personalization for our guests.”
“Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible [through raw, vegan food],” the tennis star [Venus Williams] told Health Magazine about the decision to transition to a plant-based diet. “Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.”
The Impossible Burger will be available at Citi Field in New York; other plant-based menu additions include a vegan tuna sandwich at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, a vegan cauliflower cheesesteak at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, and vegan nachos at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
Non plant-based additions include organic chicken tacos at Boston’s Fenway Park.
Plant-based options continue to grow in popularity among Americans, with the plant-based diet projected to reach $5.2 billion by 2020 according to a new report from the FAIRR Initiative. Athletes in particular have been extolling the virtues of the diet (and doing away with rumors that the diet is too poor in protein to support an active lifestyle). Athletes who have publicly endorsed a plant-based way of life include Olympic gold medal-winning skiier Heather Mills; ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek, bodybuilder Alexander Dargatz, Formula 1 racer Louis Hamilton, NBA star Damian Lillard, three-time Olympic snowboarding medalist Hannah Teter, Olympic cycling medalist Dotsie Bausch, and star tennis player Venus Williams, winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles and 14 Grand Slam Women’s doubles titles.
“Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible [through raw, vegan food],” the tennis star told Health Magazine about the decision to transition to a plant-based diet. “Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.”
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady eats approximately 80 percent plant-based, according to CNBC, and teamed up with vegan meal delivery service Purple Carrot in 2016 to create a line of meals designed with athletes in mind. The outlet reports that this season, 11 members of the Tennessee Titans transitioned to a plant-based or mostly plant-based diet.
“My energy level’s gone up,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard told the Associated Press after being persuaded to make the transition. “And it’s just putting in good fuel to your body. And of course, it’s always hard to keep weight on [during the season]. But it’s worth it for me staying on top of my health.”
A 2015 study in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that a vegan diet can boost physical and emotional health, and a recent study from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine showed that a plant-based diet could reduce the risk of diabetes.