Mexican cuisine is another tricky one to navigate for the vegans. While many Mexican restaurants in English-speaking countries cater exhaustively to vegetarians and vegans, authentic restaurantes in Mexico often don’t.
A vegan friend once asked me, before his trip to Costa Rica, how to say “no cream, please.” Alas, in Latin American cooking, the cream is usually not the main issue for vegans – it’s the lard or the butter. Many vegetable dishes – particularly beans – will have been stewed in these fatty substances, or might be laced with meat. Even rice will usually have been cooked with butter or chicken stock. Et tu, beans and rice!? Here, a round up of ten very safe, very Mexican foods you can eat with zero hassle when you’re in Mexico.
Tortillas – Goes without saying, we’re sure. The great Mexican staple – cornmeal or wheat flour, water, oil for frying, salt – is served alongside many meals, either whole or as crunchy chips. Eat with abandon! Use them to scoop up…
Pico de gallo – Pico de gallo is a popular, very fresh and delicious uncooked condiment made of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lemon juice, and chilies – chopped up small, so the pieces of vegetable resemble picos de gallo; rooster beaks.
Guacamole – Calories, shmalories – avocados are full of healthy fat, right? Guacamole might just be the world’s most perfect food, and you’ll find the real deal in Mexico.
Plátanos Meládos – Plantains are one of nature’s gifts to humankind; fat, firm bananas just right for stir-frying. Alas, many savory plantain recipes aren’t vegan, but plátanos meládos – a simple, delicious, sweet/savory dish – are safe for you. They’re coated with a glaze made of sugar, cane sugar, vinegar, and sometimes honey.
Frijoles Cocidos – So. Many. Mexican bean dishes involve pork rinds, pork, lard, margarine, or butter. But frijoles cocidos are stewed in onions, garlic, herbs, and salt. Hallelujah!
Frijoles con Pulque – Pulque is a Mexican alcoholic beverage made by fermenting the sap of the maguey plant. Naturally, the perfect accompaniment to a bean dish! Frijoles con pulque are stewed with pulque, olive oil, garlic, onion, cilantro, and hot chilies. Whew!
Calabaza Cubierta – Pumpkin is a staple in Central American cuisine, often stuffed with meats and creams and cheese. Calabaza cubierta is a simple pumpkin dessert that involves just three ingredients – pumpkin, sugar, and water.
Papaya en Dulce - Like Calabaza Cubierta, Papaya en Dulce is a dessert that involves produce and loads of sugar. The papayas take on a candy-like consistency when given the sugar treatment.
Michelada – There are loads and loads of vegan Mexican drinks – tropical fruit juices and tequila-based cocktails, hooray! But before you reach for a shot glass, I’d like to recommend my very favorite Mexican alcoholic beverage: the michelada. Many variations of this drink exist around Latin America, but the classic is mixed up with beer, lime, salt, and hot sauce, poured over ice.
Margarita – Ice, tequila, limes, orange-flavored liqueur, salt, hangover.
What’s your favorite all-Vegan Mexican food?