Leilani Munter Drives to make Motorsports Healthier and to Raise Global Awareness

By Kent Whitaker
Leilani Munter
Photo by Craig Davidson

NASCAR and ARCA fans tailgating before a race are part of  the professional racing circuit. Are things changing as far as healthy foods in the parking lot and garage area? The answer is yes! One ARCA Racing Series driver hopes to raise awareness even more.

Environmental activist and race car driver Leilani Münter is working to get a “VegNation” race car on the track. Many drivers, such as Mark Martin, are known for their healthier lifestyles and exercise routines. Does this health trend translate to the fans?

Derek Anderson, a race fan visiting Daytona Speedweeks, said his menu has changed for the better over the years. “Years ago we survived on beer, cold cuts and candy bars when we came to a race,” Anderson said. “Now that I’m older it’s changed to lite beer, grilled chicken, salads and lots of water and fruit and vegetables.”

Anderson says he thinks the change may be a sign of the sport maturing. “All of these cooking shows, and healthy eating shows on TV. You combine that with the cool stuff we can cook with now, grills, fridge, better storage, and now our kids have kids and my wife and I always cook healthier for them. I don’t want my grand kids to eat the junk I did.”

Now Münter hopes to expand the trend to even more fans with her efforts to field the VegNation race car on the high banks of Talladega Superspeedway. The goal is to have a competitive car and race well while also encouraging millions of race fans to adopt a more plant-based diet.

“By adopting a more plant-based diet, we can each help curb climate change while also doing something good for our health, for animals, and for our taste buds,” said Leilani. “With more meat-free meals than ever being eaten today, we’re on the right track toward a more sustainable diet.”

According to Münter, the team is actively seeking partners who support the ideas such as a more plant based diet in the food and beverage industry, environmental organizations, animal advocacy groups and health education organizations.

Munter may be on to something. Several tracks on the NASCAR and ARCA schedules have put in place recycling programs, adjusted open flame policies, added healthier menu items to concession stands and some sponsor marathons in conjunction with their events.

Leilani has begun to pick up support from sponsors as she works towards her ARCA and NASCAR racing goals, but she is always looking for more. Three of the groups supporting Münter are 1% for the Planet, Wildlife Works and VegNews Magazine.

According to Terry Kellogg, CEO for 1% for the Planet, the goal for his organization all about inspiring business leaders, consumers and activists to support important environmental work. “Leilani’s concept is a great way to spread that message and engage the public on ways to solve key environmental issues,” Kellogg said.

Joyce Hu, Creative Director for Wildlife Works, says that Leilani’s image and message is something that the company can get behind. Wildlife works is an eco-friendly carbon zero fashion company based in Mill Valley, California. The organization will be donating 100 percent of the profits from its Kukanga line to the VegNation race car.

“We are honored to be supporting Leilani and her VegNation race car,” said Joyce Hu, Wildlife Works’ creative director. “She’s a brave, sexy advocate for the earth – our kind of girl!”

So how does Leilani Munter stack up against other female drivers in the sport when it comes to being a driver as well as a spokesperson for a healthier lifestyle. According to VegNews Magazine Münter ranks pretty high.

“A vegan-themed race car that educates NASCAR fans about the global-warming effects of a meat-based diet deserves the full-blown support of the green community,” said VegNews founder and publisher Joseph Connelly. “Leilani has shown that she is the real deal, both walking — and driving — her talk. She’s a committed vegan, a dedicated environmental activist, and unafraid to take risks both on and off the track. VegNews is honored to be part of her crew.”

In these days of lean sponsorship in the spot, Leilani Munter may have found a way to combine her racing efforts with her own lifestyle and beliefs. The demographics for racing fans are changing, and bringing new sponsors to the track can only benefit the sport.

In this case, it can possibly help us all to become more aware of our world and our menu choices.

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