New Report Finds Meatless Sports Concessions are a Game Changer

September 21st, 2015


Sports Venue Sustainability ReportThis summer the NRDC and Green Sports Alliance released Champions of Game Day Food, a report on fresh sustainability initiatives at sports venues. From stadiums to racetracks, venues across the country are making major strides in going green. One of the top items to change at the old ball game? Adding delicious meatless options to the menu.

In the introduction to the report, Professor David Russell, Chairman and Founder of The Russell Partnership explains the significance of changing the food options at sports venues: “Food served at sports venues… delivers an incongruent message regarding sports, nutrition, and wellbeing.” In the past, foods served to sports fans have spanned a range of sweets, snacks and meals that rely heavily on processed meats and sugars. By changing the menu available to patrons, venues have the opportunity to make a real impact on game day traditions as well as health and the environment. “With food consumption so closely linked to the game day experience, it’s only logical to incorporate environmentally responsible food strategies into venue management.”

“Consumer interest in the sustainability, sourcing, and environmental impact of food production is increasing. More importantly perhaps is the growing recognition by the food industry that both the food production and food service businesses can contribute to environmental initiatives as part of successful growth strategies.” – Professor David Russell, Chairman and Founder of The Russell Partnership

How are sports venues using meatless options to become more sustainable? Some highlights from the report’s case studies include:

Levi’s Stadium (home of the San Francisco 49ers)

Levi’s Stadium serves a total of 40 vegetarian items (more than 20 percent of the full menu), of which more than 32 are vegan (17 percent of the full menu). As of June 2015, it has more vegan and vegetarian items than any other NFL stadium, with at least one vegan item at every concession stand. 
”We hope that we are copied. We hope people try to one-up Levi’s Stadium and get the Leed Platinum,” says San Francisco 49ers’ CEO Jed York, “People are going to start to ask questions: why isn’t our stadium like this? When your fans start asking that, you better deliver what consumers want.”

AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys)

AT&T Stadium sources thousands of pounds of organic produce each year from the WE Over Me Farm at Paul Quinn College. 
The farm was once the college’s own football field, but the school made the decision to convert it into an organic farm where students and staff volunteer. “They can’t keep up with our full demand, so they give us everything that they can and then we source elsewhere to fulfill our needs,” says AT&T Stadium Executive Chef Orazio LaManna. “It’s a celebration from their football field to our football field.”

Sonoma Raceway

Sonoma Raceway’s organic garden was established in 2013. As of 2014, it produces more than 15 vegetables and herb varieties. It is the first organic garden planted at a NASCAR racetrack. The garden’s produce and herbs are featured at concessions, in private suites, and at specialty catered events. 
”We are focused on developing a resilient food system at Sonoma Raceway, which is very exciting. It shows our fans what can be grown in this region and it communicates our commitment to the quality of food we serve,” says Director of Operations Victoria Campbell.

 

Several of the case studies offered vegetarian and/or vegan meal options at all concessions area through out their venue:

 

Sports bring people together from all walks of life and across political, cultural, religious, and socioeconomic barriers. Making our food system more sustainable will take united effort and innovative thinking – changing what we eat during our favorite cultural passtimes could be a perfect way to start. “Can the sports industry instigate that change by itself? No,
it cannot. Can it make a big contribution in shifting cultural consciousness and supply chain operations towards ecologically responsible healthy food? Yes, for sure it can.” – Allen Hershkowitz, Phd, President, Green Sports Alliance.