Calgary Stampede veggie options a hit

For many visitors, the Calgary Stampede means beef, barbeque and corn dogs but times may be changing as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Vegetarian options continue to grow in a once meat-dominated environment

Hong Truong takes a quick photo of a vegan pizza from Avatara Pizza before she gives it a try. She was part of a group of vegans, experts if you will, testing veggie options in the Take a Bite Outta Stampede Midway Food Competition on Sunday. (Dave Will/CBC)

For many visitors, the Calgary Stampede means beef, barbecue and corn dogs — but times may be changing as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is now working hard to include foodies of all varieties, including those who don't eat meat.

The Stampede might be the last place one might expect to find a vegan — that's a high-level vegetarian who doesn't eat any animal products whatsoever — and Hong Truong says that's a fair assessment.

She's been vegan for over ten years, and admits it's been about that long since her last visit.

"The last time I came, I just started becoming a vegan, and I paid $5 for corn on the cob without butter, so it was literally corn that was just boiled and handed to me," Truong said with a laugh.

Truong is back at Stampede this year as part of a panel sampling vegan offerings in the Take a Bite Outta Stampede Midway Food Competition.

Avatara Pizza owner Chris Iturbe says consumer demand has changed. (Dave Will/CBC)

Popcorn with vegan butter, lemonade and fruit salads might not surprise, but Avatara Pizza's award-winning Crunchy Cowboy is always a hit, "with a nice vegan cheese, crushed cashews, and some organic tomatoes, pineapple, and a nice barbecue sauce. Chili lime barbecue sauce," owner Chris Iturbe said.

While Iturbe says they offer pizzas with meat, there's been an evolution in consumer demand.

"A lot of people are looking for healthier types of foods and there are a lot of allergies out there."

Stampede volunteer Reg Tiangha says vegetarians should give the midway another try. (Dave Will/CBC)

Stampede volunteer Reg Tiangha challenges herbivores to come back to grounds and sample how much things have changed.

"There's this wicked vegetarian wrap that has the soy protein, that I guarantee will trick you for chicken. It did for me, so there are options for everyone," Tiangha said.


With files from CBC's Dave Will