In what likely came as a surprise to meat-loving Texans, PETA recently named Globe Life Park in Arlington the most vegan-friendly Major League Baseball stadium in the country.
It earned that designation thanks to the Ballpark Vegan cart in Section 16, which serves a surprisingly large array of plant-based ballpark eats like black bean tamales, Mediterranean nachos (i.e. a heap of Stacy's Pita Chips topped with olives), a vegan Southwest burger and meatless hot dog.
The hot dog has proven most popular, says Casey Rapp, general manager of Delaware North Sportservice, which oversees food, beverage and retail services at the ballpark. The burger and vegan nachos have also been popular among meat-free baseball fans.
The cart was launched, Rapp says, because guest Twalla Grant reached out to request more vegan options at the ballpark.
“She helped us pick out some of the items and suggested what might go well together,” Rapp says. “And sure enough, last year, when we created it, it did well enough to keep.”
Grant, who runs vegan Rangers fan pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, said her correspondence with Rapp began three years ago, when she discovered that the one vegan hot dog at the stadium — already difficult to find in the Center Field Market — came in a nonvegan bun.
“We stayed in contact through email, and they started going to Whole Foods to get vegan buns,” Grant says.
She also assured Rapp and his concessions team, none of whom is vegan, that if they built a space for the vegan community at the ballpark, the vegans would come.
“I told them even people that aren’t baseball fans will come support it,” Grant says. “That’s how cool we are. We support vegan places.” Judging by the #ballparkvegan hashtag on social media, indeed they do.
But how good is the food? Is it tasty and substantial enough for nonvegans to enjoy? Here's our take.
The Southwest Burger, $10
The bun is the highlight of Ballpark Vegan's Southwest burger ($10).
A Lightlife veggie patty, wedged between an Rudi’s bun, is dressed with onions, lettuce and tomato and served with Stacy’s pita chips. The bun is the highlight of this otherwise average burger because it’s both fluffy and sturdy enough to contain its fillings, even when the well-cooked patty inevitably crumbles.
The Vegan Ballpark Nachos, $10
The "chili" makes these vegan nachos well worth the splurge.
Tostitos tortilla chips are loaded with house-made vegan chili (a stewed mix of Beyond Beef Feisty crumbles with pinto, kidney, black and garbanzo beans and spices), Teese cheese and jalapeños. Unremarkable chips aside, the spicy, hearty and bean-diverse chili makes these nachos divine. The “cheese,” meanwhile, is an impressively smooth and creamy facsimile of the real thing.
The Vegan Hot Dog, $7.50
The ballpark's most popular vegan item is the meatless hot dog.
A Lightlife Smart Dog on an Rudi’s bun served with Stacy’s pita chips. Pro tip: Ask for onions, Teese cheese and chili on top. Actually, ask for chili on everything. My carnivorous dining companion, who tried the vegan dog and a standard hot dog, said he actually preferred the meat-free version. The dog itself is a plump and juicy delight, but the chili, once again, is the crowning glory. You can order it separately for $7, but we suggest slathering it on the dog for the ultimate experience.