Heard on the Hill

Meat vs. Veggie Showdown on National Hot Dog Day

PETA not happy over Meat Institute's annual hot dog lunch

South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, second from right, poses for a picture with members of his staff during the North American Meat Institute's annual hot dog lunch. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With only the front security entrance to Rayburn separating them, traditional hot dogs and veggie dogs were handed out for lunch simultaneously. So which do you choose?

Several hot dog companies passed out the classic summer chow in the 97-degree heat. Another perk was that former Major League Baseball players were signing balls and bats for attendees.  

On the other side, five of PETA's "Lettuce Ladies" dressed in lettuce bikinis, stood around a table of veggie dogs, which were handed out by PETA employees , not the scantily dressed women. The PETA display outside the Rayburn front entrance encouraged people to “Go Vegan.”  

This battle on Thursday is a congressional tradition on National Hot Dog Day. When the North American Meat Institute throws its annual hot dog lunch, PETA counters with its own offering.  

PETA's "Lettuce Ladies" were piching veggie dogs. (Alex Gangitano/ CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Collin C. Peterson stuck to the meat version, sampling hot dogs from the Boar’s Head and Smithfield stands. His verdict: “They were both good.”   

The Minnesota Democrat is a co-sponsor of the institute’s annual lunch, which also included hot dogs from Tyson Food, Dietz and Watson, Hormel, Hoffmann and Land O’Frost.  

“It showcases these companies that do a great job and all of them have great products,” said Peterson, ranking member of the House Agriculture committee. “They are people we work with all the time on the committee, so it’s a way to just showcase what they do for people that aren’t close to agriculture.”  

The hot dogs were all handed out quickly and efficiently to the hundreds of members and staffers in attendance. Of the long lines for baseball autographs, the longest was for retired Expos and Cubs Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, aka “The Hawk.”  

Also signing autographs were retired Pittsburg Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke and retired San Francisco Giants outfielder and first baseman Jack Clark.  

Ohio Republican Rep. Rob Latta arrived at the lunch with a baseball bat, ready to be signed.  

“It’s always too hot,” Peterson said on why he didn’t get autographs. “I’m from Minnesota, this is too hot.”  

Peterson’s colleagues didn’t seem too hesitant to shun the PETA stand samplings to grab two or more of the various hot dog options before them.

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