We’re all familiar with Meatless Monday, and we’ve got Taco Tuesday bookmarked in our calendars, but what about Food Truck Wednesday, Take-Out Thursday, and Fine-Dining Friday? Across the US, cities are adopting Vegan Restaurant Week to encourage plant-based options at omnivore restaurants and build business for vegan eateries as well. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Las Vegas (which actually holds a Vegan Restaurant Month each January) have already implemented this event, and now Denver joins the list. The Mile High city’s first Vegan Restaurant Week will be held May 13-May 19, thanks to the partnership between VegFest Colorado and Veganizer. Beyond the outstanding specials and deals, this event serves a greater purpose in the scheme of the vegan dining-out community. Here are the top reasons why Vegan Restaurant Week is worth celebrating every week.


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1. Vegans and omnivores can agree on one place to eat
Dining with a mixed crowd of eaters? Vegan Restaurant Week makes it easy for a group to find a venue to suit everyone’s dietary preferences. During this week, many omnivore restaurants will offer clearly marked plant-based dishes, and some even create entire menus dedicated to their new vegan customers. All participating restaurants will post their vegan specials on the event’s website, so it’s simple to plan ahead and know what your options are. No more sad salads when your omni friends and family don’t want to go to a vegan restaurant; your options abound, especially during this special time of year.
Our Denver pick: One of the event’s participating omnivore restaurants, Fire on the Mountain, is offering special discounts on its vegan renditions of its popular saucy wings and American pub grub. Don’t miss the Fried Mac and “Cheese” Balls served with vegan sriracha ranch, Kale Pesto Pasta Salad, Jackfruit Pulled BBQ Sandwich, and of course, Seitan and Cauliflower Wings. Order them with the X-Hot Buffalo sauce, if you dare!


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2. Non-vegans are exposed to vegan cuisine
As veganism becomes more mainstream in the culinary world, many omnivores are giving it an occasional try when dining out. According to a study by insight marketing company FoodLabs, 51 percent of chefs in the US added plant-based options to their menus in 2018. Vegan Restaurant Week puts plant-based eats front and center of an otherwise animal-based menu. Plus, if the restaurant is offering a deal on their menu (as is customary with Restaurant Week), who wouldn’t want to try something new and exciting at a discount? If the omnivore customer enjoys their vegan meal, they may ask for it to be featured on the regular menu when they return a week later. From there, we leave it to the powers of supply and demand.
Our Denver pick: Himchuli Indian & Nepali Cuisine. Not only is this restaurant unique for the type of cuisine it offers (how often do you come across a Nepali menu?), it’s been a trailblazer in Denver’s vegan culinary community. It hosts regular monthly vegan buffets, but for this week, this extensive buffet will be available every day of the week. Diners can look forward to an assortment of veggie pakoras and samosas, whole wheat flatbreads, saag, Sherpa stew, rice pudding, and more.


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3. The local economy benefits
The concept of Restaurant Week—vegan or otherwise—was invented to bolster the sales of restaurants during historically slow times. In up-and-coming foodie destinations like Denver, supporting local restaurants and small food businesses creates a sense of community and helps the city thrive both from an economic and social standpoint. Whether you choose to dine curbside at a vegan food truck or make reservations at a chef-owned establishment, you’re helping a local entrepreneur do what they love for a living.
Our Denver pick: WongWayVeg. We love this vegan food truck for its outrageously good, international comfort food made from scratch. Think Veggie Arepas, Chana Masala Chimichanga, Poutine, Bread Pudding, and more. During Vegan Restaurant Week, catch the truck at the Nooch Market (May 15) from 12-7pm and at the Vegan Bake Sale (May 19—also at the Nooch Market) from 11am-4pm.


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4. Omni eateries get a vegan hint
If you believe in voting with your dollar, this is the week to do it. By dining at a restaurant that’s participating in Vegan Restaurant Week, and revisiting the restaurant in the weeks that follow, you’re paying proof that these plant-based options are needed 365 days a year, not just during this special event. Inform the manager that you first discovered the vegan items during Vegan Restaurant Week, and now you’re hooked (it’s fine to be liberal with your praise). Sure, you could write an email or fill out a comment card, but sometimes, putting your money where your mouth speaks in greater volume.
Our Denver pick: Concourse Restaurant Moderne. Celebrate an ordinary Monday or a festive Friday with reservations at this contemporary dining venue. Ordinarily a far cry from vegan, the kitchen has created special vegan a la carte entrées as well as a $35 four-course, prix fixe menu for the week. Dishes include Maitake Mushrooms and Carrots grilled with yuzu, ponzu, and celery curls; Pea Soup with spiced coconut foam; and Beluga Lentil Dahl; and Char Kway Tao with tapioca noodles, asparagus, snow peas, and haricot verts. Be sure to take a glance at the vegan wine selection to elevate your experience.


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5. You can spice up your regular routine
When eating out, it’s easy to stick to the same safe places. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you like and supporting vegan businesses, but this week allows you to explore different options—usually at a discounted price. In line with the culture of Restaurant Week, you’ll find a la carte discounts and fairly priced prix fixe menus at most participating restaurants. These affordable tasting menus typically include a drink, appetizer, entrée, and dessert, allowing you to experience a little bit of everything on the vegan menu without paying full price for each item.
Our Denver pick: Whole Sol Blend Bar. As a vegan, you may already frequent this vegetarian fast-casual joint, but now is the time to forgo your go-to smoothie bowl and try one of the other stellar vegan options. Several vegan items will be discounted for Vegan Restaurant Week, including the Tofu Scramble, Matcha Smoothie Bowl, White Truffle Avocado Toast, Goddess Latte (made with vegan collagen), and the Homemade Newtella—an acai bowl made with cacao and hazelnuts, generously topped with ribbons of “newtella,” granola, raspberries, and cacao nibs.   


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6. It’s a win for local nonprofits
Beyond supporting local businesses, Vegan Restaurant Weeks around the US also incorporate a giving component. Some, such as those in Philadelphia and Las Vegas, choose to accomplish this by ensuring a percentage of the proceeds go toward the chosen charity, while others host special events during the week to rake in the funds. From citywide bake sales to unique chef collaborations, you’ll be eager to support the cause.
Our Denver pick: In conjunction with Denver’s first Vegan Restaurant Week, the local Nooch Vegan Market is co-hosting Denver’s 8th Annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in partnership with Blackheart Creations. On Sunday, May 19, participants can enjoy a street-wide bake sale featuring vegan vendors, art, a Denver community cookbook, and of course, a tempting array of baked goods. All proceeds will benefit Danzig’s Roost (a rooster sanctuary). If our cupcakes are for a worthy cause, we’re ordering one of every flavor!


Miranda Lipes is a freelance writer, creator, and traveling foodie (alias: Uprooted Foodie) based in Denver, Colorado.

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