Kale and Potatoes: Baltimoreans Embrace Vegetarian Cuisine

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Kate St. John and husband Aaron Ross, do-directors of the Humane League. Photo by Steve Ruark.
Kate St. John and husband Aaron Ross, do-directors of the Humane League. Photo by Steve Ruark.

It hasn’t always been easy being a vegetarian in a meat and crab cake town like Baltimore.

“Twelve years ago, you’d be lucky to find maybe one soy milk in the grocery store,” says Baltimore vegan Aaron Ross. “Now even chain stores have choices — sometimes even whole aisles dedicated to vegetarian options.”

Along with the growing number of choices for the herbivore consumer, Ross points to more evidence that vegetarianism is gaining currency: Baltimore City last month became the first “Meatless Monday” public school system in the U.S. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is one of the partners in the effort.

Baltimore’s soul may still be made of meat and crab cakes, but the city has seen more vegetarian-friendly restaurants, groups, and activities springing up around town. They include Liquid Earth in Fells Point, Mount Vernon’s Land of Kush and One World Cafe in Charles Village.

The real fuel behind the mini-explosion in vegetarianism may be coming from an unlikely source: meat eaters. According to Baltimore’s Vegetarian Resource Group, one-third of Americans identify themselves as flexitarian, or someone who sticks with vegetarian food most of the time, but also eats meat. The national Meatless Monday campaign and New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman’s book “Vegan Before 6” have enticed many meat eaters to become part-time vegetarians. One contestant on this season’s “The Next Food Network Star” is pitching a show cooking mostly vegetarian foods.
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