“What do you identify yourself as?”
When I saw the question in the survey, I wasn’t sure what kind of answer I was supposed to provide. I hadn’t expected to find that question in a simple survey about food. I was just checking out the voting form for Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week.
I clicked the “choose” button and was faced with several categories. “Vegetarian.” “Vegan.” “Pescatarian.” “Flexitarian or reducetarian.” And the final, all-encompassing option: “I don’t like labels.”
The voting form was created by Maryland Vegan Eats (MVE). The organization runs the biannual Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week every summer and winter. Once unique only to Baltimore, the event is now spreading out of the city, to Anne Arundel County and Howard County as well.
MVE was founded in 2017 by two restaurants in Baltimore, Land of Kush and Golden West Cafe. Land of Kush is a vegan eatery, boasting items such as “crab” cakes and “chickun” which resemble the real thing. Golden West Cafe serves real meat but has substantial menu options for vegans and vegetarians as well.
Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week is a bit of a misnomer, as the event lasts from Feb. 8 through 17. With over 25 restaurants participating in Baltimore City alone, though, this is the best possible news! Even if you missed the first few days you’ve still got the weekend to get out and try some places.
Remember, these organizers know plant-based food. The payoff is guaranteed to better than Meatless Mondays at the FFC.
No, I’m not referring to the fast casual places on St. Paul Street (although Honeygrow and Chipotle do make being a sometimes-vegetarian a much easier experience). Head into Remington and go to R. House, the ethnically inclusive food court. Over seven stalls will be serving vegan food. Try a breakfast sandwich from Ground and Griddled, Molina’s new pizza offerings for lunch and one of four flavors from Little Baby’s Ice Cream for dessert. Maybe even have all four flavors — no one’s judging.
Another Hopkins favorite is Red Emma’s, located in Mount Vernon. Red Emma’s is a vegetarian establishment, so they’re well-equipped to serving up tasty vegan food as well. Try the vegan bacon, egg and cheese, a menu item that is officially available all week long.
Miss Shirley’s Cafe is another solid choice. Head to one its locations and check out their special Winter Vegan Restaurant Week menu. It’s guaranteed to be good — Zuri Coles, head chef of the Roland Park location, was featured on radio station WMAR-News Baltimore on Wednesday cooking the Vegan Athena Bowl.
My least favorite thing about eating vegetarian in restaurants is not being able to eat a delicious, juicy burger. Fortunately, MVE has solved the problem for a week or so!
Wicked Sisters in Hampden is offering brunch, lunch and dinner options, each with their own unique meals. Go for lunch or dinner if you’re after the Beyond Burger, especially since it comes with a side (that side can and should be fries).
The Land of Kush, which helped start MVE in the first place, is celebrating the week as well. In honor of Vegan Restaurant Week, they’re offering up a new menu item: the chickpea burger.
And Alexander’s Tavern in Fell’s Point, among several other menu items, will be featuring the Impossible Burger. It’s the one that was all over the internet last summer for supposedly tasting almost exactly like the real thing.
Several food-themed events took place last weekend, but there’s still a few more coming up. Swing by Thrive Baltimore’s Vegan Soul Brunch this Sunday, which will feature tasty options such as chick’n and waffles. Or go to YouTube personality The Vegan Mechanic’s Special Dinner and Art Event that evening.
I’m not a full vegetarian, but I typically don’t eat meat while in restaurants. I’ve already tried some vegan Baltimore fare, but having Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week will make eating out much easier — and more satisfying — over the next few days. And thanks to MVE’s survey, I’m able to accept a new identity for myself: reducetarian.