Vegan Restaurant Week coming to Baltimore in August

Vegans, rejoice. A restaurant week just for plant eaters is coming to Baltimore.

Baltimore’s Vegan Restaurant Week will be Aug. 18-26, said event coordinator Shannon Light Hadley, and aims to include dozens of Baltimore-area restaurants.

Vegan Restaurant Week will not operate like typical restaurant weeks, when patrons shell out hefty sums for a three- or four-course prix-fixe menu. Rather, restaurants are challenged to create an innovative vegan menu item — like Blue Pit BBQ’s pulled jackfruit and slaw sandwich, a vegan alternative to traditional pulled pork or chicken.

“The main goal is, on the patron side, to say, ‘Hey, a vegan option doesn’t have to be something that sounds boring,’” Hadley said.

The new endeavor was born out of a partnership between Hampden’s Golden West Cafe and Mount Vernon’s The Land of Kush. Golden West Cafe had been hosting its own version of a vegan restaurant week twice a year for the last few years, said Hadley, who is part of the restaurant’s management staff. Land of Kush co-creator Naijha Wright-Brown approached Golden West and proposed a collaborative project.

Wright-Brown and Hadley have been “beating the streets,” Hadley said, to drum up interest in their respective neighborhoods. There are 10 restaurants currently involved in the restaurant week, but organizers would like to lock in 40 participating establishments, Hadley said.

Visit Baltimore and Yelp are sponsoring the restaurant week and will be promoting the event as it draws closer. The Black Vegetarian Society of Baltimore and the Restaurant Association of Maryland are also sponsors.

Hadley said Vegan Restaurant Week aims to be “financially accessible on all levels” — to patrons who might not want to spend lavishly to participate and to restaurants that might be too daunted to create a whole vegan menu.

“There’s a lot of evidence that a plant-based diet is healthy for you, healthy for the environment,” Hadley said. ”There’s a large population that [engages in] this mindful eating, so if you’re not supporting them, you’re missing out.”

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