Right now, nearly 30,000 individuals are prepping for their attendance at this year’s Natural Products Expo East. Expo East is the East Coast edition of the natural products industry’s leading trade show. Among those in attendance are a number of health-oriented, plant-based, and vegan industry leaders and influencers. I’m among them, are you? As you prep for the annual migration to Baltimore—where you’re sure to discover the hottest new vegan products—you’d be smart to plan some time to explore all the best healthy and vegan gems that Baltimore offers to Expo East Vegans.
I’ll admit that Baltimore isn’t the MVP when it comes to vegan cities. Rather, it’s the unlikely sweetheart—and for sure, this city will capture your curiosity with its charm and quirk in no time. Rest assured, you can fill your belly, flex your soul, and live each day to your fullest potential while in Charm City!
What Not to Miss During your Expo East Visit
Since Expo East brings visitors to town for just a few short days, I don’t want anyone to miss out on anything awesome! Fear not! As a lifelong Baltimore gal, and someone who tries to stay intimately familiar with the vegan on-goings of this town, I’ve got the inside scoop. In fact, I want to ensure you leave Baltimore feeling impressed or energized by what’s going on here! And so, here’s my not-to-miss-list for all you Expo East vegans and health nuts out there!
This program is surprisingly not advertised very well, but with your conference badge, you can get a discount from many of Downtown Baltimore’s businesses. See the Fall 2018 listing here.
Events & Festivals
There’s much to explore in Baltimore. You could very well venture off on your own an stumble upon some fun, funky, and/or unusual little attractions. (Atlas Obscura tour, anyone?) But while you set aside some flexible time for exploration, be sure to build your schedule your Expo East trip around the following events and opportunities:
HAPPY HOUR AT MOUNT VERNON MARKETPLACE! Because Baltimore Vegan Drinks at Suspended Brewing was cancelled | Thursday, September 13th, 7-10 pm
**UPDATE: While vegan drinks was cancelled, a bunch of local vegans are getting together for drinks and bites at Mount Vernon Marketplace at 7.
When I heard a new brewery was opening in one of Baltimore’s most underrated neighborhoods, Pigtown, I had to know more! My first question: “would Suspended Brewing Company‘s brews be vegan? What a silly question that was, it turns out, because the owners are both vegan. Soooooo duh! And luckily the universe has come together quite wonderfully to have the Baltimore Vegan Drinks happy hour at Suspended Brewing coincide with Natural Products Expo East! You’ll find me here, for sure!
Get more info from the event’s Facebook page.
Farmers’ Markets | Saturday & Sunday
The Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar under the Jones Falls Expressway is definitely the favorite child when it comes to Baltimore’s Farmers Markets. And if you’re staying downtown, it will be the most accessible market worth visiting. But if you’re looking to go outside the Central Business District, or if you’ll be leaving before Sunday, hit up the Saturday morning 32nd Street Farmers Market in Waverly. Someone recently described the Waverly Market to me as “the market where people who actually cook buy their food”—as to say the folks who go to the Bazaar…well, they may just be putting on a show compared to the Waverly Market patrons! While you’re visiting Waverly, you could even pop-in to the vegan-owned Local Color Flowers to make a floral arrangement!
Bonus: While you won’t find this market chock-full-o-vendors, and it’s nothing compared to Waverly’s market or the Bazaar, the Hampden market just might have a draw for vegans after all! Below you can read why you should add the Hampden Farmers Market to your to-do list!
Grab a Bite from the Long-time Favorites
Now, I know you’ll be eating well at Expo East. (See a recap of all the goodies I ate last year…and the year before!) But when you need an honest-to-goodness meal outside of all your samples, there are some reliable establishments in Baltimore. If this is your first visit to the city, you might not yet be aware of some of Baltimore’s vegan-friendly staples. Check out some of the city’s vegan (v), vegetarian (veg), and omnivorous (omni) options below:
- Land of Kush (V): An anchor for Baltimore’s vegan community, this place has great vegan soul food!
- Grindhouse Juice Bar (V): You’ll find more than just juice at Grindhouse! They’ve got salads, wraps, and smoothies, too! Plus, the occasional but delicious baked good!
- Harmony Bakery (V): This all gluten free bakery recently went 100% vegan. If you go, you have to order the chickpea curry tart!!
- GruB Factory (V): A baby, still, compared to the other veteran restaurants on this list. You may have tried GruB Factory during your visit to Expo last year. Right now, the featured image on their Facebook page reads, “We make vegan easy.” Ain’t that the truth! Anything omnivores eat, you can eat vegan at GruB Factory! Their small menu rotates, so you’ll have to stop in to see what they’re making that day!
- Liquid Earth (Veg): The 2nd closest to the conference center after Land of Kush, Liquid Earth has both raw and cooked items.
- One World Cafe (Omni): While they do serve tuna, One World Cafe is almost entirely a vegetarian and vegan restaurant. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
And these not-exclusively-vegan spots
- Golden West Cafe: My favorite restaurant! Despite the fact that it’s omni, Golden West is among the most veg-friendly (if not THE most veg-friendly) non-veg restaurant in the area. The late night taco window (or the early morning coffee window, depending on your style) was a game changer for them!
- Paulie Gee’s Hampden: Traveler’s might be familiar with Paulie Gee’s, which has locations in Brooklyn, Columbus, Chicago, and Miami. The Hampden location is a great spot to get a pizza—my favorite is the Lou Ferrigno!
- Union Collective: Union Craft Brewing (a vegan-friendly brewery) just opened Union Collective, a complex with independent, Baltimore businesses and craft makers. This includes The Charmery (always good for a few vegan ice cream flavors), Earth Treks, Vent Coffee, Baltimore Spirits Company, and A Well-Crafted Kitchen (which has vegan potential, but I’ve yet to investigate). Bonus: if you like Beer, you can check out the new US Guinness Brewery just outside the city!
Taste Test from the Fresh Faces
Maybe this ain’t your visit to Baltimore, though. Perhaps you flock here annually for Expo East and you already know about all those long-time favorites. Well, even if you’ve come last year, you’ll be new to some fresh vegan faces have made their way onto the scene. Be sure to hit up these vegan businesses that’ve opened within the last year.
- Donut Alliance You maybe were fortunate enough to try a Donut Alliance donut last year as they were being sold at different eateries across town. But just this past summer, they opened their first storefront!
- The Greener Kitchen: Proudly the East Coast’s only 100% vegan kitchen incubator! They’ve just opened and you can pop in to their retail space in Pigtown on your way to….
- Suspended Brewing Company I mentioned them above, and it’s worth noting again. Suspended Brewing Company is a vegan brewery in Pigtown, so be sure to swing by for the Baltimore Vegan Drinks event on Thursday, the 13th! ***UPDATE: the Vegan Drinks event was cancelled, so join local vegans grabbing drinks and bites at Mount Vernon Marketplace at 7 on the 13th.
- L’Eau de Vie Organic Brasserie the ABSOLUTE newest to join the family, L’Eau de Vie launched their soft opening on Wednesday September 12th. Chef Johnson has been preparing delicious vegan food for the community through years of catering and has finally opened her physical restaurant!
- Bmore Righteous: the second newest to join the family, Bmore Righteous opened on September 8th—just a week before Expo! Head over to build your own burger!
- Cinnaholic: We’ve got one of our own! The Cinnaholic chain which is taking the country by storm with it’s secretly entirely vegan cinnamon buns has come to Baltimore! You can find them at the Rotunda in Hampden. While there, you can get some snacks at MOM’s Organic Market!
- The Hampden Farmers’ Market: Okay this is a bit of a wild card. And calling it a “Farmers Market” is definitely a stretch. HOWEVER, it does have two really cool vegan vendors there this year: The Fancy Carrot & Charles’ Peaceful Yums. Get a carrot dog and then some fried dough….or maybe a carrot dog IN the fried dough! Whatever floats your boat!
- Hampden, Generally
Jeff and Emily at DONUT ALLIANCE
“Best donuts, vegan or not!”
People say it all the time and it always makes me feel amazing inside!
Surely after eating your way through the city (not to mention the Expo East floor!) you’ll be eager to balance it out with some fitness and wellness time. Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
Pop-Up Yoga Baltimore| Sunday, September 16th, 9:30 am
After a two week break, Pop-Up Yoga Baltimore will finally return Sunday for their regularly-scheduled, free Sunday morning yoga. Yoga on the 16th will take place at Patterson Park. Check the Pop-Up Yoga Baltimore event page for more information!
Waterfront Wellness | Saturday (15th) and Sunday (16th), 7 am
Now, if the idea of free yoga was something you found enticing, you’ll definitely be excited about the Waterfront Wellness series. This free series is organized by Waterfront Partnership and held in the Inner Harbor (VERY accessible if you’re staying at the Conference Center for Expo East!). There are classes on both Saturday and Sunday morning. Plus, with an early 7 am start, this is great for early birds who are hoping to get out an about before hitting the Expo East floor!
Bonus: Waterfront Partnership also organizes kayak rides on the weekends! Check out their Facebook page for more info!
And Get Excited for Next Year!
Don’t go home with ROMO—regret of missing out—with this list, you can leave Baltimore confident that you got the grand tour! Of course, we’ll have even more for you during your next visit! With new restaurants about to open and an ever-growing community of vegans and health-nuts, Baltimore has more and more to offer everyday. So, go forth and explore! And I’ll see you again at Expo East 2019!
If you hit up any of these spots, I’d love to hear what you think—don’t hold back! Share in the comments below!]
Featured photo by Oleg.