Traditionally, Passover has many elements which are not vegan friendly, but there’s always room for compassion. Even though I am not Jewish, I enjoy this holiday with my family in a fun vegan way. My husband was raised Jewish, and although he isn’t religious, Pesach provides us with the chance to celebrate Spring and something we both care deeply about: Freedom.
For those unfamiliar, here is a summary of the holiday, Passover, which honors the ancient Israelites and follows their arduous journey from slavery to freedom. To honor the trials their ancestors endured, for one week in the Spring, modern Jewish people recreate the dietary restrictions an exodus imposes. Never staying in one place very long, the Israelites didn’t have time to leaven their bread (which is why unleavened Matzoh is eaten), or grow corn (which is why corn products or by-products like corn syrup are avoided). These are just two examples. Here are some vegan Passover recipes from my friend, Nava Atlas.
One of the things I appreciate most about Pesach is that this very solemn story is told in celebration and with visual and edible props like the Seder Plate, which displays six items – each representing a part of the journey – and no fewer than four glasses of wine (feel free to sub grape juice). Below is a brief guide for how my family will veganize our Seder Plate:
Karpas is a green vegetable or herb, traditionally Parsley, which signifies the new life of spring. This is dipped into salt water to represent the tears shed and the pain suffered by Jewish ancestors.
Charoset represents the mortar the Israelites used in their slavery as builders. Better tasting than building material, this is a sweet mix of nuts and apples that is spread onto matzoh.
Maror symbolize the bitterness of slavery. Horseradish or another bitter herb is typically used for this.
Z’roa embodies the sacrificial lamb offered up in the Temple in Jerusalem. We rather prefer lambs enjoy freedom too, so we’re foregoing the shank-bone in favor of a roasted beet.
Beitzah is another sacrificial offering, this one in the form of an egg. It is displayed on the plate to commemorate the offering. One way to substitute this is with an avocado, but our family, which isn’t Kosher, will use a flavored solid chocolate egg (or several) as festive and compassionate stand-ins.
We can all relate to this holiday’s meaning, even if we’re not Jewish. People are still fighting and dying for freedom in these same parts of the world. And of course, as vegans, we share the desire for the millions of enslaved animals to be free. Even if you choose not to have a seder, you can celebrate freedom this Passover by rescuing an animal, donating to a vegan sanctuary (like Animal Place, Woodstock Farm, or Farm Sanctuary), or to humanitarian aid in Egypt and Libya, or any of the many other countries around the world where people are fighting for their rights.
In Peace and Freedom,
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