Mayor Vincent C. Gray may have proclaimed it and Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwardsmay have pledged it. But our vegetarian critic is nonplussed about VegWeek 2011.

Compassion Over Killing, a DC-based nonprofit, works on numerous campaigns, from shaming Dunkin Donuts‘ egg supplier to encouraging Subway to offer fake meats. This week, though, the lobbying group focuses on promoting meatless dining in Maryland, Virginia and D.C., among other places.

But is all the promotion really doing much to change our eating habits this week? I think not.

If we judged the event purely on the range of participating restaurants, then the week would be about as persuasive as Donald Trump‘s leap at the Republican presidential nomination. No one’s biting except for the already converted. If you look at the list of restaurants participating in VegWeekAmsterdam Falafel, Bread & Brew, Cafe Green, Fojol Bros.—it’s places that vegetarians and vegans already frequent for their meatless options.

I mean, gee, thanks for the 10 percent discount and all. But, come on, can’t we advance the cause beyond the usual imitation “chicken” sandwich?

A better idea would be to enlist restaurants with a normally meat-heavy menu to offer something for the event, therefore tempting its meat-eating costumers to try something other than their typical half smoke or tuna melt.

How bout Old Ebbitt Grill serving up a crabless chickpea crabcake? Or Birch & Barley offering freshly fried donuts topped with toffee and fakin’ bacon? Or maybe just Medium Rare serving something other than steak frites for once?

If Compassion Over Killing truly wants to spread its message, instead of simply rallying its base, then maybe they could come up with some better specials to make VegWeek more, you know, special.

Photo from VegWeek