Next week, Washington, D.C. will host the city’s inaugural Veg Restaurant Week – a weeklong event to showcase the city's most exciting plant-based eats. Signed into effect by Mayor Muriel Bowser, the plant-based celebration will happen from May 7 to May 14, partnering with vegan restaurants and chefs all over the city. Bowser helped launch this new plant-based campaign to highlight how plant-based foods can benefit public health and the environment.

“Plant-centric eating lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes, and those conditions disproportionally undermine the health-related quality of life of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) residents of Washington, D.C. A global shift toward plant-centric food norms would help lower greenhouse gas emissions, and governments can play a crucial trailblazing role in facilitating such shifts by their citizenry,” Bowser said in the proclamation announcing Veg Restaurant Week.

The inaugural Veg Restaruant Week will also enlist D.C. Shadow Representative Oye Owolewa and Celebrity Chef Spike Mendelsohn to co-chair the event. The two will help celebrate local vegan eateries with the aim of introducing D.C. citizens to healthy and sustainable food options around the city. The celebration will act as a guide for people who feel interested in improving their diets or hope to become more eco-friendly consumers.

This new plant-based campaign intends to engage the public communities with the growing plant-based industry across Washington, D.C. The participating restaurants will provide new dishes, prix fixe menus, and specials for all guests throughout the week. Chef Mendelsohn's PLNT Burger will join the extensive list of restaurants participating in the celebration. Other local hotspots include D.C Harvest, Equinox, and HipCityVeg.

“D.C. Veg Restaurant Week encourages the public and community leaders to get to know and celebrate their neighborhoods’ healthy and planet-friendly dining options while supporting local businesses,” Veg Restaurant Week organizer Max Broad said in a statement. “Together with Mayor Bowser, our co-chairs, and the diverse and culturally rich restaurants taking part, we hope to model the benefits of continuing to center plants on our plates all year round.”

The weeklong event will also showcase the innovative vegan dishes from several Black-owned eateries including Sweet Sosumba Jamaican Vegan Cafe, RAWish, and Gangster Vegan Organics. These restaurants will join DC Vegan, BDG’s Ghicken Vegan, Roscoe’s Pizzeria, and more during the celebration. The campaign aims to promote plant-based accessibility, providing people with nutritious foods and proper education for eating healthier.

To check out all the participating restaurants, visit the Veg Restaurant Week website.

Governments Push Plant-Based Foods

By promoting these veg-forward businesses, the city hopes to encourage people to think locally and sustainably. Last year, Washington, D.C, enacted the Green Food Purchasing Act, setting out to reduce the city’s food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030. Closely following the UN’s most recent call to action, D.C.’s plant-based restaurant week is the latest effort to hold governments and consumers accountable for the worsening climate crisis.

Restaurant week is the most recent example of how governments can help promote plant-based and sustainable food systems. To stop climate change, the world needs to cut meat consumption by 75 percent. With government initiatives, this goal is possible. This March, New York City announced a similar celebration with MeatOut Day – declaring March 20 the new, annual plant-based holiday. Now, more than 40 states and cities including Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; Riverside, California; and Louisville, Kentucky celebrate the plant-based holiday.

Outside of the United States, several governments have enacted plant-based policies meant to curb the damaging effects of animal agriculture. Denmark is setting a new standard for plant-based legislation. In the last month, the Danish government has invested $100 million towards a plant-based future and revealed new state-controlled climate labels for food. By celebrating sustainable and plant-based eating, the Danish government intends to minimize its food-related environmental damages.

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