Leilani Münter drove her Vegan Strong car to eighth and ninth place place, respectively, in ARCA (NASCAR developmental series) races at Daytona and Michigan International Speedways earlier this year.
But those results were mere (vegan) appetizers to her big win in December when Münter became GreenSportsBlog’s BEST GREEN-SPORTS STORY OF 2018.
The “Vegan, Hippy Chick with a Race Car” spoke to us about what winning the award means to her and more.
She’s had the “Green” part down pat. After all, Münter adorns her race car with vegan sponsors. She samples vegan food to ARCA series race fans. Her personal car is a Tesla that she powers with electricity generated by solar panels on her roof. And much more.
Leilani Münter (Photo credit: Leilani Münter)
But it was the “Sports” part that always held Münter back from winning GSB’s Best Green-Sports Story award. Her main problem was that she had a very difficult time getting the vegan sponsors to fund more than a one-race season.
Until 2018, that is.
She signed A Well-Fed World and TryVeg.com to sponsor her ARCA car for an eight race campaign, by far her busiest season in that series. Thus the decision to give the award to Münter became relatively easy this year, especially with her record of two top ten finishes, and the 30,000 vegan Impossible Burgers that were served in her name to 30,000 racing fans at five Fan Zones.
Leilani Münter (r) with NASCAR’s Danica Patrick at Daytona International Speedway this February (Photo credit: Leilani Münter)
In accepting the award, Münter shared that it’s been a long road for her.
“I am completely honored to be recognized by GreenSportsBlog,” Münter said. “It was also an honor to be able to drive the Vegan Strong car, thanks to my partnerships with A Well-Fed World and TryVeg.com. I pitched vegan sponsors for six years and am grateful they finally saw the value of reaching out to a non-traditional audience for them — auto racing fans — and getting them to try tasty vegan food in a fun atmosphere.”
Although the reaction was universally positive, even Münter was surprised about at least one racing fan who became a vegan food fan.
“So this was at the Media Day during Daytona 500 week,” Münter recalled. “Not surprisingly, the ARCA racers were ignored in favor of the NASCAR Monster Energy series (the top level of NASAR) drivers. Luckily, an AP reporter saw a tweet on Twitter saying that vegan burgers are being sampled out in the Fan Zone. So he went over there with a camera guy. When he gets there, he sees a guy in a Make America Great Again (MAGA) cap and an anti-PETA* t-shirt. And the guy LOVED the Impossible Burger!”
Don’t believe me? Check out this 50 second video:
GSB’s Take: Perhaps Münter is thinking too small with this whole “Vegan, Hippy Chick with a Race Car” thing. It says here that she might want to explore the idea of taking her Tesla, tasty vegan food, and pro-PETA messaging to Iowa and New Hampshire in advance of the 2020 Presidential primary season. Because maybe the best way to reach folks who are opposed to reducing their meat consumption (and thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and/or deny climate change is through their stomachs.
Run, Leilani, Run! Heck, everyone else seems to be running.
* PETA = People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. So an anti-PETA t-shirt means the wearer is for unethical treatment of animals? As my Grandma Lena used to say, “It takes all kinds!”