If one Los Angeles City Councilman has his way, major entertainment venues in the city, including movie theaters, will be required to provide at least one vegan option at their concession stands.
Standing at the podium alongside representatives from animal welfare organizations and the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, councilman Paul Koretz outlined the legislation he has proposed that would require the city’s movie theaters, concert halls, zoo and airport to provide plant-based options for their patrons.
Current estimates show that anywhere from 3-5% of the US population is vegan and that number does not include vegetarians or flexitarians, a term for people who have a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eat meat or fish.Those percentages are thought to be much higher in the city of Los Angeles. LA is routinely near the top of the list of top vegan cities in the United States and has one of the largest concentrations of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the world.
If this legislation passes it will mean that movie theaters located within the city of Los Angeles will need to start providing at least one vegan option at their stands. Major theater chains that do business in the city include AMC, Regal/Cineworld, Cinemark, Landmark, iPic, Laemmle, and Arclight/Pacific. Being a vegan I can confirm that a circuit like AMC does provide vegan options in the form of bagged nuts and dried fruit. How heartily those vegan options are advertised is another matter. On a visit to the AMC Woodland Hills this past weekend I asked the young man at the concession stand how the bags of pistachios were selling. You would have thought I had asked the question in Gaelic as he proceeded to give me a perplexed look before answering, “I didn’t even know we sold them.” Arclight had experimented in 2017 with a product called Edamovie, a frozen bag of edamame that could be heated and served within a matter of minutes, but discontinued carrying it after lackluster sales.
At the press conference, Councilman Koretz did not specify what would be construed as vegan food. He gave the example of serving vegan hot dogs the same way meat-based hot dogs are served at Dodger Stadium. But the question for theater owners will be is a bag of pistachios considered vegan food? Or will the legislation specify that it must be a heated product? A request from the councilman’s office for clarification was not answered by the time this article went to press.
Councilman Koretz ended the press conference by quoting the National Restaurant Association by saying, “Any restaurant that doesn’t serve vegan food is burning money.” With the number of vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and patrons who simply want a healthier option growing at an exponential rate, theaters could discover a new revenue source but the issue for them might be which existing concession product will have to be discontinued to make space for the vegan option.
It is unknown what chance this legislation has of passing but city and state initiatives to provide healthier, plant-based options for its school children, government employees, prisoners and hospital workers are on the rise across the country. In an odd way, if the law does pass then movie theaters should benefit from the local and national press that would emanate from its passage. That might move vegan options, and healthy options in general, from the bottom shelf to being prominently featured at your local multiplex. At the very least it will ensure that those working at concession stands will be aware of their existence.