An essential part of the holidays is the FOOD and in our community we go all out and enjoy delicious home-cooked meals we don’t usually get to enjoy at any other time. If you’re Latinx and you’ve gone vegan though, you might feel like you’re destined to miss out on all the deliciousness. That’s really not the case though! A lot of Latin American foods are easily veganized with a few easy swaps—and, no…we’re not talking about weird meat substitutes. In reality Indigenous diets were more plant-based than what we think of LATAM foods being like today so some of these vegan recipes are a little closer to what our ancestors ate. Read on for vegan recipes for some of your favorite Latin holiday meals.
Arroz con Gandules
Monique from Ambitious Kitchen has been blogging healthy yet indulgent recipes since 2011. However, most of her followers didn’t know that she’s half Puerto Rican until a few years ago when she shared a recipe for vegan arroz con gandules inspired by her mom’s recipe. Arroz con gandules is typical holiday dish in Puerto Rico, and the only thing that keeps the original version from being vegan is that a lot of people put ham or a some type of pork in the dish of rice and pigeon peas. Simply leave out the meat though, and it’s a delicious, vegan rice dish. Monique puts her own twist on the dish by using basmati rice.
Get the full recipe at Ambitious Kitchen.com
Pasteles are a holiday tradition in Puerto Rico and within the Puerto Rican diaspora. Families usually gather together to make large batches of flavorful pasteles, which feature a dough made of yuca or a combination of plantains, green bananas and root vegetables. Typically, they are stuffed with stewed pork, but they are super-easy to veganize, by swapping out the pork for chopped veggies and/or chickpeas. Plentitude PR offers vegan recipes for both yuca and green banana-based pasteles.
Get the full recipe at plentitudpr.org
One of the most prized treats in Latinx households during the holidays is Puerto Rican coquito. Although the coconut-and-rum based drink originated in Puerto Rico, it’s become widely popular among Latinxs in the U.S. Since it’s typically made with mostly coconut milk and cream of coconut, it’s simple to make vegan. Most people swap out dairy-based condensed milk and evaporated milk for coconut condensed milk and either coconut evaporated milk or almond milk.
Get the full recipe at theconsciousplantkitchen.com
Is it even Christmas without tamales? Some would definitely say no, so being able to make vegan tamales is especially important. Like with pasteles, it’s usually a simple swap to replace the meat filling with a bean or veggie-based filling. Nancy over at the Mexican Made Meatless blog has written recipes for four different vegan tamales, including mole tamales.
Get the full recipes at mexicanmademeatless.com
Budín de Pan
Budín de Pan or bread pudding, is classic Latin American dessert that’s often enjoyed during the holidays. It’s usually loaded with cream, milk and butter, but there are vegan alternatives for all of those ingredients that are easy to access and taste delicious. Youtuber Sarah XVX simply uses any plant-based milk and an egg substitute, of course mixed with bread, cinnamon and vanilla.
Get the full recipe at Sarah XVX/YouTube.com
Chocolate tamales are undoubtedly a special treat perfect for the holiday season. While traditionally, they are made with butter, they can easily be prepared with a vegan butter substitute or even with oil. To create the sweet masa, you simply combine some vegan butter and sugar into the masa harina, along with Mexican chocolate, cinnamon and almond milk. Then the masa is filled with a chocolatey pecan mixture. Yum!
Get the full recipe at dorastable.com
Who doesn’t love a good flan? Flan is a ubiquitous dessert throughout Latin America, and because it’s so decadent and rich, it’s perfect to serve on holidays and other special occasions. But, it’s literally cooked eggs and milk, which seems difficult to veganize. But, it’s absolutely delicious made with all coconut milk instead of the usual condensed milk and evaporated milk. Instead of eggs for thickening, this recipe from Minimalist Baker uses cornstarch or arrowroot starch and agar agar powder.
Get the full recipe from minimalistbaker.com
Sopapillas are a very comforting and cozy fried pastry that are enjoyed in several Latin American countries. There’s actually not too much substitution necessary to make them vegan, since some recipes actually call for vegetable shortening instead of butter to start with. This recipe for pumpkin sopapillas from Chilean Food & Garden, makes them even more festive, by adding pumpkin puree to the mix.
Get the full recipe at chileanfoodandgarden.com
Folks from the Caribbean eat some sort of pernil or roast pork during the holidays, which is obviously a no-go for vegans. But shredded jackfruit is actually an excellent and completely natural, whole food substitute for pork. No funky factory-made meat here! Karla from the blog Veggie Jeva has created a jackfruit “pernil” recipe, that is seasoned like the classic Puerto Rican dish.
Get the full recipe from veggiejeva.co
Tembleque is another delicious coconut-based dish that makes for a yummy treat during the holidays. It’s essentially coconut pudding, and believe it or not, most recipes for it are naturally vegan. Although some people use things like tofu to make a vegan version, we like the recipe from Kitchen Gidget, which simply uses coconut milk thickened with cornstarch and sweetened with granulated sugar. The custard is then topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon, which adds to the holiday appeal.
Get the full recipe from kitchengidget.com