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Baltimore Vegan Weekend

Well, our amazing vegan community pulled it off! Vegans in and around (or visiting) Baltimore this past weekend were probably out and about enjoying at least one aspect of Baltimore Vegan Weekend.

Officially running from Friday, February 17th to Sunday, February 19th, the Vegan Weekend kicked-off with a restaurant crawl that featured over 25 restaurants. Other festivities of the weekend included a vegan macaroni and cheese affair (followed by an after party), brunch specials, and a vegan pizza party. Many thanks to the folks at PEP Foods Inc. and Baltimore Vegan Drinks for coordinating such an extravagant weekend!

To be honest, I’m regretful that I didn’t patronize more restaurants. As a matter of convenience, I ended up supporting only two restaurants that I already support fairly regularly as they’re right in my own backyard—Hampden. I enjoyed food at Golden West Cafe, who extended their participation in the Vegan Weekend into an entire vegan week! I also was sure to enjoy some of the limited availability vegan pizzas from Paulie Gee’s vegan festival on Sunday (I actually went twice within the 4 hours the vegan pizza festival was running—how embarassing….or is it impressive?). Of course, I wouldn’t have missed the Vegan Mac n’ Cheese Smackdown for anything! (That reminds me, thanks for understanding why I missed your birthday party, grandpa Joe!)

The Smackdown was much less crammed than it was last year, but equally as packed. The space at Baltimore City Community College was more accommodating for the crowd, but there were just as many (hopefully more, actually) attendees. Our new Mayor, Catherine Pugh, even attended! It’s a shame the event couldn’t be held outside as it was—what? in the 70s on Sunday? It was warm, indeed, but they couldn’t have predicted that for a February day in Baltimore.

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My favorite was an entry from last year: Flying Pig Labs. Their mac is fantastic! Which is why I was so happy to find their recipe online at the Washington Post. I’m sharing their recipe and some others from the event below, and I’ve also posted the Flying Pig Labs recipe here. Flying Pigs Labs won best display, but weren’t the ultimate winners. That was The GruB Factory. One of last year’s winners, Vegan Refocused, was unfortunately not at the Smackdown because they were busy hosting their own event that immediately followed. If I didn’t have company coming over, I certainly would have popped in! I hope they did well!

If not for said company, I also would have attended the after party at Thrive Baltimore, a new community center. I have yet to visit the center, but I know there will be future opportunities, like the Vegan Marketplace they’re hosting on April 1st!

Now, let me tell you about the vegan pizza festival. Paulie Gee‘s, which usually has a great selection of vegan pizzas (they have their homemade cashew ricotta and a vegan sausage which are both amazing), but they offered some specials for this event and even introduced a few new regular pizzas. I am in love with the Aphrodite & Bastet pie (hah, get it, in love!). They’ve promised it will be back, but just in case, I ordered it twice in one day. And the leftovers are just as incredible. I tried the Blue Pit BBQ Brisket pizza as well, but I wasn’t as impressed. I prefer to eat Blue Pit’s jackfruit BBQ on a bun.

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All-in-all, it was a great weekend. Combined with the fact that my vegan tattoo was expanded a bit on Saturday, you have the recipe for the perfect weekend!

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While I only participated in a small fraction of what was offered this past weekend, it was an outstanding experience. I am so thankful for the Vegan community in Baltimore. I know folks are jealous of the awesome-ness that was this past weekend. So start making your plans to attend next year, because it’s sure to be even better!

Bonus!

Coverage of the Mac n’ Cheese Smackdown from the Baltimore Sun

Recipes:

From The Advocacy of Veganism Society

From This is Vegan Foods

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