In a groundbreaking move, Baltimore, MD has become the inaugural US city to declare January as the official month of Veganuary, marking a significant step towards fostering resilient, sustainable, and healthy communities. The proclamation, requested by the Black Veg Society and Veganuary, with support from DefaultVeg, was officially announced by Mayor Brandon M. Scott.

In the proclamation, Mayor Scott urges residents, restaurants, retailers, and institutions to explore and incorporate plant-based options, saying that the shift to plant-forward eating is vital to mitigating the severe impacts of climate change. 

Scott also highlights the alarming statistics of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, citing the potential health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

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Additionally, the proclamation emphasizes the ethical treatment of animals, condemning the conditions in factory farms where animals are often caged and denied their natural needs. Baltimore’s diverse culinary landscape, including restaurants, grocers, and farmers’ markets, is recognized for increasingly providing vibrant, healthy, and plant-based foods—largely due to efforts led by the Black Veg Society’s Maryland Vegan Eats initiative.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is a global initiative that encourages people worldwide to try vegan for January and beyond. Since Veganuary launched its first pledge 10 years ago, millions of people from almost every country in the world have taken part, with campaign hubs in Germany, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, India, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom. 

As part of the initiative, Veganuary aims to provide resources such as free recipes, shopping tips, restaurant guides, and meal plans to help those curious about a vegan lifestyle. The organization collaborates with national and regional brands, retailers, and restaurants, offering promotions, giveaways, and special menu items to encourage people to explore plant-based choices.

Baltimore’s commitment to Veganuary is underscored by its strong participation in the global campaign. In 2023, the city ranked among the top 10 in the nation for the number of sign-ups to Veganuary. 

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Veganuary is collaborating with brands and restaurants nationwide to meet the growing demand for plant-based options. In Baltimore, establishments such as Land of Kush celebrated Veganuary with an anniversary party featuring specials, new menu items, and a resident artist unveiling. Pizza chain &Pizza—another city-wide favorite—is introducing two new vegan menu options featuring Daring vegan chicken.

And recently, entrepreneur Pinky Cole announced a homecoming of her popular Slutty Vegan brand with a planned opening of both the popular burger shop alongside Bar Vegan, a boozy concept. The partnership is expected to boost the local economy by creating more than 100 jobs and offering the community more vegan food options, including over-the-top vegan burgers enjoyed by celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Shaquille O’Neal. 

Naijha Wright-Brown of the Black Veg Society and Land of Kush expressed enthusiasm for Baltimore’s collaboration with Veganuary and Mayor Scott’s proclamation, encouraging residents to embrace veganism and support local vegan and veg-friendly businesses. 

“We need to open the dialogue throughout our communities about health disparities, access to nutritional foods, environmentalism, and compassion for animals, especially in predominantly BIPOC ones,” Wright-Brown says. 

“We will continue to partner with vegan and veg-friendly restaurants while organizing our celebratory events such as the bi-annual Maryland Vegan Restaurant Month in March and August, the annual Vegan SoulFest, and more,” she says. 

Austin promotes plant-based dining

With this historic proclamation, Baltimore sets an inspiring example for other US cities to prioritize sustainable and compassionate living, making Veganuary a movement that extends beyond just the month of January. 

Over in Austin, TX, a local initiative is actively promoting plant-based dining options in restaurants. As part of the campaign, Mayor Kirk Watson has officially declared January 2024 as “Plant Based for the Planet Month.”

Organized by the nonprofit Planted Society, the “Plant-Based for the Planet” campaign has played a key role in guiding top restaurants in Austin toward sustainability. With the mayor’s endorsement, the initiative is poised to have an even more significant impact on the city’s culinary scene.

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More than 14 participating restaurants are showcasing diverse culinary talents and creating innovative plant-based dishes. This effort has resulted in the addition of over 35 new eco-conscious specials to their menus. The culinary celebration encourages both Austin residents and visitors to enjoy a month-long experience of savoring vegan meals.

“We are truly delighted to be a part of this initiative and witness the momentum it has gained in Austin,” Edwin Marty, Food Policy Manager for the City of Austin, said in a statement. “Our gratitude extends to the creative local restaurant partners helping us illustrate that eating more plant-based food is not only great for the environment and great for our health—but also delicious.”

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