(cool) progeny is thrilled to partner with Tastewise Kids on a this new “Ask an Expert” series! Designed for parents to read with their kids, the Ask an Expert monthly column will introduce you to Baltimore’s farm and culinary professionals so that kids can learn more about our community’s food system. First up? Let’s learn all about Maryland Vegan Week — straight from the movement’s founders!

What is Maryland Vegan Week?

Maryland’s Vegan Week is a celebration of vegan foods and plant based products. It’s also more than just a week – it runs February 5th to the 28th.

Participating restaurants feature new items that are healthy and plant-based. You don’t have to be vegan to participate.  All are welcome and everyone will find something they love.  Maryland’s Vegan Week was created by the owners of the Land of Kush and Golden West Café.Ask the Expert: Naihja Wright

Ask the Expert: Naihja Wright, Co-Owner of Land of Kush

Tell us about your restaurant

Land of Kush is an award winning ten-year vegan soul bistro. The restaurant is a brain child of my husband and Baltimore native, Gregory Brown. Recognizing that there are high health disparities in the African American communities, we wanted to open a vegan restaurant in Baltimore to send a message that there is a healthy way of eating by elimination of animal products. We are proud to have a successful restaurant that serves delicious vegan soul food options.

How would you describe a vegan diet?

A vegan diet is a diet that abstains from consuming any animal products or byproducts. There are so many options when cooking vegan food. It is a joy and constant learning experience to experiment with new vegan dishes.

Do you have any recommendations for people wanting to explore vegan eating?

Have fun! There are so many options and creative ways to cook. There are more options to vegan cooking than you think.

What are your top three favorite foods to eat?

I love any kind of avocado toast. I am always a fan of breakfast meals with tofu, beans and rice, foods with sauces, greens and vegan pizza.

What are three words you would use to describe vegan eating?

Eat to live.Ask the Expert: Samantha Claassen

Ask the Expert: Samantha Claassen, Co-Owner of Golden West Cafe

Tell us about your restaurant

Golden West is a restaurant that serves American cuisine and Southwestern comfort foods. We are proud to be a vegan forward omni restaurant! We have something for everyone at Golden West!

How would you describe a vegan diet?

A vegan diet is anything you want it to be. It is full of rich delicious goodness with fresh vegetables, beans, lentils, and fruits. Vegan eating is only limited by your creativity.

Do you have any recommendations for people wanting to explore vegan eating?

I tell people to think about food and flavors they like to eat. They will not sacrifice flavor with a vegan diet. For anyone in Baltimore that is looking for ideas, they can go to mdveganeats.com and look at menus from our vegan week. There are so many restaurants doing so many things and that is a good place to start.

What are your top three favorite foods to eat?

I love Thai food. Asian foods are so robust in flavors and a good pad Thai and curry would be my favorite choice of food most days.

What are three words you would use to describe vegan eating?

Diverse, joyful and rewarding.

Want to get started exploring vegan foods?

Did you know that you do not need eggs and dairy products to bake? Try some of these vegan alternatives for baking:

  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Olive Oil
  • Extra Baking Soda
  • Earth Balanced products
  • Just Egg

Try baking with some of these vegan alternatives to dairy and eggs and tag us in your projects using #TWKatHome and #CoolProgeny. We can’t wait to see your sweet projects… Happy Vegan Week!