Last week, the Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb arrived in the mail. I nearly plotzed! I eagerly opened to a random page and found this, “This Haggadah seeks to reawaken an atrophied sensibility and to re-establish connections the human race once had to the animal world.” Yowsa!
Almost all holidays are centered to some extent or another around a meal, but few holidays are as centered around food as much as Passover. It can be hard (to say the least) for animal activists to celebrate holidays they cherish as much as anyone else, when the holidays have become emotionally tainted by the presence of meat and dairy. It’s a constant reminder of the animal oppression we fight so tirelessly to end. It’s particularly difficult when it’s grandma who is eating the lamb.
Here’s the good news: Whether you’re the only vegan at your Passover Seder, or if you’re one of many, you too can have an enjoyable experience and delicious food – without the schmultz!
Veganizing a Seder plate is easy. According to my friend, Isa Chandra Moskowitz (author of Veganomicon), you might consider replacing the egg with flax seeds, “since seeds represent the same thing that an egg might: fertility, growth and potential. Plus, flax seeds make a great egg replacer so it really works. You can replace lamb with a yam (because it rhymes) but beets, I learned, are given the seal of approval by the Talmud itself.” (That was from an old guest-blog she did for the fabulous Heeb N’ Vegan. You should check it out because it also has some yummy Passover recipes.)
Okay, let’s talk beans. I really didn’t understand if beans were considered Kosher for Passover, so I called my sister-in-law who is a lot more Jewish than I am. She told me that Sephardic Jews (those from Spain, Portugal, Africa, and the Middle East) eat beans on Passover, while (though it’s controversial) Ashkenazi Jews (those from France, Germany, and Eastern Europe – like me), generally do not. (What can I say? We’re a complicated People.) If you fall into the bean-eating camp, you might check out this recipe for mock tuna salad – a perfect compassionate replacement for gefilte fish.
Of course, most matzo is vegan, just steer clear of the egg-kind. Perhaps my favorite part of Passover is the charoset, which is easy to veganize if you replace the honey with another sweetener like sugar, agave, or maple syrup.
The veganization of Passover is something that people have been discussing for a long time. Richard Schwartz, author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, has a very informative website that talks all about the hows and whys to not eat animals on Passover (or ever). “Contrary to a common perception,” he says, “Jews are not required to eat meat at the Passover Seder or any other time.”
Here are some other helpful links:
• VegSource offers two individual vegan Passover menus.
• The Jewish Week has an enlightening and funny article about having a vegetarian at the Passover table.
• Vegan Seder Plate: Alternatives for an Animal-Free Passover is full of fabulous info and goes into more detail about cruelty-free alternatives for the Seder Plate.
Lastly, I definitely recommend you pick up a copy of Living Among Meat Eaters by Carol J. Adams. It is full of wise information that you can bring back to your life and back to your table, so that you can handle the non-vegans in your life with the same compassion and empathy that you bring to your activism.
Remember, by eating vegan, you get all of the taste but none of the guilt. (You get enough of that from your mother, anyway.)
P.P.S. Have more Passover tips? Be sure to comment below!