Jewish holidays are full of food and symbolism, usually combined into one delicious guilt-ridden plate of food. I can’t stop your mother from complaining about your career trajectory, but I can help you ditch the animal products from your seder plate.
The traditional seder plate has six items: maror (bitter herbs), zeroah (roasted lamb shank), beitzah (roasted egg), charoset (a fruit and nut mixture), karpas (green vegetable), and chazeret (a second bitter herb, which some families skip). There are also new traditions that also include an orange, tomato, or olives on the seder plate. Besides the seder plate, the Passover table also includes matzah, wine, and salt water.
Obviously, vegetables and bitter herbs are no problem for vegans. For many of the other items, there are traditional or modern substitutions.
- Instead of a lamb shank, many families use a figure of a lamb or a roasted beet. There are a number of apocryphal stories about why we use a beet, but, in the end, it’s probably due to the beet’s bloody appearance.
- Many charoset recipes are naturally vegan. Sephardic recipes are often a mash of dried fruits, nuts, spices, and wine, while Ashkenazi recipes usually mix chopped apple and nuts with spices, wine, and honey. You can either choose a naturally vegan recipe, or replace the honey with agave nectar, sugar, or any kosher for Passover sweetener.
- There are more options for replacing the roasted egg. The beitzah is said to be a symbol of, among other things, spring, renewal, life cycles, mourning, and temple sacrifice. Common vegan options are: a flower, an avocado pit, a small boiled potato, a small white eggplant, a figurine of an egg, or seeds (just be sure to choose seeds from a kosher-for-Passover food).
- The matzo used for the seder is traditionally just water and flour. While egg matzah exists, it’s considered too rich for the symbolism of the seder table. We left Pharoah in a hurry after all!
- It might take a bit of research to find a wine that is both kosher for passover and vegan. Barnivore is a great resource on vegan alcohol. Some of the most common KP wines are vegan, including Mogen David, Manischewitz, Goose Bay, Baron Herzog (whites only), and Bartenura.