The following article was written by guest writer Sean Collander.
Baseball season is here, and so are ballpark franks. For die-hard fans, baseball’s opening day is almost like any other holiday: Kids get called out of school, families spend time tailgating together in the parking lot before the game, and everyone tends to overeat.
Growing up in Chicago, it wasn’t unusual for opening day at Old Comiskey Park to be a bit on the chilly side. Even so, my dad, my two brothers, and I would always be in attendance—grilling and drinking pop in the morning and all sporting the jersey of our favorite player (sometimes over a sweatshirt or two). It was always a great day. Everything from the call of “Programs! Get your programs!” and the crack of the first pitch against the catcher’s mitt all the way to the ungodly mess created by shelling your own salted peanuts.
As a kid, one of my favorite parts of going to Comiskey Park was the ballpark franks, served with your choice of grilled or raw onions, relish, and a little mustard garnish (no ketchup—NEVER ketchup). Since then, however, I have grown up and learned where all that meat comes from, and now I look for tasty alternatives.
Thankfully, over the years, ballparks have become increasingly vegan-friendly, offering all sorts of cruelty-free options when it comes to game-day fare. Check out PETA’s list of the Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks to see if your team’s home field has made the list! (I’m proud to see Chicago’s South Side in the honorable mentions!)
This April 1 was my first opening day away from my sweet home Chicago, and just because I can’t make it to the White Sox home-opener this Thursday doesn’t mean that I can’t still enjoy a delicious Chicago-style hot dog. But which to choose?
When I was newly vegan, I scoured the shelves of grocery stores for the best alternative to this staple of any true Chicagoan’s diet. After sampling many brands and styles, I finally settled on one favorite: Lightlife’s Jumbo Smart Dogs. So on April 1, just in time for the first pitch of the season, I threw a pair of Smart Dogs on the grill and topped them with grilled onions and a few squirts of mustard. The perfect start to one of my favorite days of the year. “Play ball!”
I’m always on the lookout for delicious vegan hot dogs. Share your favorite here, and I’ll be sure to check it out!