We’ve had Baltimore Restaurant Week followed by Baltimore County Restaurant Week, but did you know about Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week? Presented by Maryland Vegan Eats, Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week runs February 7 – 23.
Yes, it’s longer than a week – longer than two weeks actually – but the extension gives customers more time to enjoy plant-based meals at more than 20 participating restaurants. This year’s theme is “Vegan is For Lovers” and it’s just in time for Valentine’s Day next weekend.
“Vegan Restaurant Week is not just for vegans. This is for people who are curious about the vegan lifestyle or who just want to add more plants to their diet,” said Gregory Brown, who owns the Baltimore vegan soul food restaurant The Land of Kush with his wife Naijha Wright-Brown.
Traditionally non-vegan restaurants also participate, and they typically have vegan items already on their menu or they add a special vegan menu. As more and more diners seek plant-based alternatives on restaurant menus, demand continues to increase. And with fast food restaurants such as Burger King introducing the meatless “Impossible Whopper,” and Dunkin Donuts bringing in the Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich, plant-based dining has become more mainstream.
“If people are interested in learning more about the vegan lifestyle and don’t know how to go about it, this is their chance to try out a bunch of different restaurants,” said Brown. The Land of Kush will be adding a variety of different “chicken” tenders to their menu for the event.
If at this point you’re wondering exactly a vegan is, or the difference between vegetarians and vegans, the Vegetarian Resource Group spells it out. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics and soaps derived from animal products.
So what do vegans actually eat? According to the Vegan Society, “a great deal! A vegan diet is richly diverse and comprises all kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, and beans – all of which can be prepared in endless combinations that will ensure you’re never bored. From curry to cake, pastries to pizzas, all your favorite things can be suitable for a vegan diet if they’re made with plant-based ingredients.”
If people are hesitant to try a vegan meal, Brown adds that they shouldn’t be: “Try something new. Hang out with the one vegan friend you have – vegan food is really delicious. We get a lot of non-vegans in our restaurant. We don’t push you to convert or shove fliers in your face. We just want you to enjoy great, delicious food.”
The mission of Vegan Restaurant Week, which was founded in August 2017 by The Land of Kush and the vegan-friendly Golden West Cafe, is to bridge the gap by increasing the awareness, benefits and accessibility of a plant-based diet through a fun, innovative and community-based experience.
According to Maryland Vegan Eats, unlike a traditional restaurant week that provides a prix fixe menu, restaurants are encouraged to create a selection of items to be offered throughout the vegan weeks – because inclusivity also means affordability. Participating restaurants will demonstrate their love and compassion for promoting healthier diets, reducing animal cruelty and saving the environment by offering tasty and creative vegan options on their menus. Best of all, plant-based menus will have something for every diner, vegan or otherwise.
In addition to the dining specials, The Enoch Pratt Free Library will present a special event with Neal Barnard, MD, a leading authority on nutrition and health, in honor of Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week.
Writers LIVE! Dr. Neal Barnard, Your Body in Balance: The New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health
Thursday, February 6 at 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Enoch Pratt Central Library, France-Merrick Creative Arts Center400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201
Join Dr. Neal Barnard for a talk and demonstration of hormone balancing foods for the family inspired by his new book, Your Body in Balance: The New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health. Hidden in everyday foods are the causes of a surprising range of health problems: infertility, menstrual cramps, weight gain, hair loss, breast and prostate cancer, hot flashes, and much more. Few people realize that a simple food prescription can help you tackle all these and more by gently restoring your hormone balance, with benefits rivaling medications. Neal Barnard, MD, offers insight into how dietary changes can alleviate years of stress, pain, and illness. The Land of Kush will provide vegan samples for attendees.
Visit www.mdveganeats.com for links to menus, locations and more information about Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week.