PETA Wants Cleveland's Hot Dog Derby To Go Plant-Based

Adding a vegan hot dog to the race would better represent a growing contingent of fans, PETA says.

Americans love baseball as much as they love industrially processed plant-based meat, so why not find a way to wed these passions at the ballpark? So says PETA, and the animal-rights organization is hoping to make the Cleveland Indians play ball.

Local NBC affiliate WLWT reports that PETA is lobbying Cleveland's organization to include a vegan hot dog in the lineup for the beloved Hot Dog Derby footrace. Since 2005, Cleveland has made it a tradition for three people in hot dog costumes—Onion, Mustard, and Ketchup—to run as fast as they can down the third base line at every home game, while tens of thousands of cheering fans come to the realization they have strong, aggressive feelings about the superiority of one condiment over another. If people are willing to scream their throats hoarse over anthropomorphic wieners, can you picture how crazy the city would get if a plant-based hot dog entered the fray and won it all?

Earlier this week, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk sent a painfully punny letter to the team's general manager, Mike Chernoff, requesting that a vegan hot dog mascot be allowed to participate in the Hot Dog Derby posthaste. In the letter, Newkirk writes (and the italics were not added by us):

"Now that you've scored a home run by switching your team's name to the Cleveland Guardians, we have a pitch that we hope you'll embrace as a way to continue that spirit of inclusivity: Will you please add a vegan hot dog mascot to your Hot Dog Derby? If you agree, we'll gladly buy the Veggie Dog's costume and veggie dogs (sold in your stadium) for all the players."

Though PETA isn't always known for its subtlety when lobbying corporations for change, Newkirk backs up the idea with facts and figures to make the case for a plant-based racer.

"I assure you our request isn't coming out of left field," writes Newkirk. She goes on to explain that Progressive Field, where Cleveland plays, has ranked among PETA's top 10 vegan-friendly ballparks in the past, and that the number of vegans in the U.S. has risen significantly in the last 15 years. (The letter says veganism has gone up 3,000% in the last 15 years, but other sources suggest it might be more like 300%.)

"Whether it's for ethical, environmental, or health-related reasons, 57% of Americans now purchase vegan foods in place of meat and dairy, and vegan food sales have grown 43% in the past two years," Newkirk adds.

Whether Cleveland decides to embrace this new tradition remains to be seen; as of last week, the team hadn't commented on the letter, Boston.com reported. But we still have one important question: even if it contains plant-based protein, how could a human/hot dog-hybrid ever be considered vegan?

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