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This Baltimore restaurant has the country's best vegan crab cakes, according to PETA

PETA recognized these crab cakes from The Land of Kush as one of the top vegan seafood dishes nationwide.
PETA recognized these crab cakes from The Land of Kush as one of the top vegan seafood dishes nationwide.

PETA has named crab cakes from Mount Vernon’s The Land of Kush as one of the top 10 vegan seafood dishes nationwide.

The meatless patties made of vegetable protein seitan and seasoned with Old Bay are one of the restaurant’s weekend specials. Vegan oysters, eel, hot pot and tacos from around the country are among the dishes that round out the list published by the advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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“(The award) was such a surprise. We didn’t even see that coming,” said Naijha Wright-Brown who co-owns the restaurant with her husband and head chef Greg Brown.

The couple added crab cakes to the menu in 2014, three years after the restaurant opened. While the offering helped fill the seafood gap for vegans, it also gave foodies a twist on the Baltimore classic.

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“Vegan items are so different from meat, but when you flavor and season it like meat, you can still enjoy the taste,” she said. “People love the texture and they can’t believe it’s not meat. We have a vegan tartar sauce which really enhances the flavor.”

Black chefs still account for a small fraction of kitchen leadership, but their presesnce is growing locally and across the country. In 2015, 15.2 percent of chefs and head cooks nationwide identified as African American or black, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, up 67 percent from 2011, when the group accounted for 9.1 percent of chefs nationally.

Wright-Brown said the secret to the success of all her dishes is the time and attention her husband puts into cooking them.

“When you’re cooking, putting love into the food makes the world of a difference,” she said. “You can tell when someone really appreciates the craft that goes into making a special dish.”

Wright-Brown is one of the co-founders of Baltimore’s Vegan Restaurant Week which runs through Sunday. She is also one of the creators of Vegan Soulfest which takes place Aug. 25 in Clifton Park. The Land of Kush, a participant in Vegan Restaurant Week, is located at 840 N Eutaw St.

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