Mexican food is one of the most popular cuisines on earth. Not many people say no to enchiladas, nachos or dulce de leche cake, washed down with a margarita! But it’s not the most plant-based friendly cuisine, with lots of animal fat, meat and melted cheese. Above is a simple taco recipe from the book Fantastic Vegan Recipes for the Teen Cook.
Use vegan butters with no palm oil. Use a reusable silicone baking liner or unbleached parchment paper. Keep recipes away from pets, due to toxic ingredients (like avocados and corn-on-the-cob that is a choking hazard).
Mexican food is spicy! So never rub your eyes if handling chillies! If you’ve gone overboard, don’t drink water as it makes things worse – instead drink something acidic like lemonade, orange juice or tomato juice. Ruled by the Spaniards for a long time, a lot of food is influenced by similar flavours. If confused by Mexican dishes, here is a quick rundown. Make your own refried beans (to avoid animal fat) and buy vegan sour cream:
- Burritos are tortillas filled with beans, cheese or ‘meat’
- Tortillas are flatbreads made from maize, wheat or potatoes
- Tamales are made with corn dough, filled with ‘cheese or meat’
- Tacos are ‘Mexican sandwiches’ (filled tortillas)
- Enchiladas are the same, but with a spicy sauce
- Quesadillas are tortillas filled with cheese (or mushrooms)
- Fajita is grilled ‘meat’ served on tacos or tortillas
- Mole is a spicy chocolate sauce, used in desserts
- Churros are cinnamon doughnuts, dipped in chocolate
homemade (vegan) Mexican Chilli
Try this Smoky 3 Bean Chilli (The Veg Space), ideal to eat alongside Lieutenant Colombo on a rainy Sunday afternoon!
Use storecupboard ingredients to make a Quick Chilli with Baked Beans (The Veg Space). Leftovers are great in a baked potato.
what’s the deal with avocados?
A controversial ingredient in Mexican food is avocados. Like almonds, butternut squash, melons and kiwi fruits – these are sometimes sold by farmers who leave bees to starve after the harvest. So as it’s unlikely you can buy them from farmers you know, replace with ‘smashed peas’ instead. We do our best. If you eat figs, wasps (who naturally pollinate them) die. If you eat strawberries, they may be grown by farmers who (despite making wildlife corridors for escape) accidentally kill wildlife in fields. Rather than screaming ‘avocados are not vegan!’, perhaps there should be more outrage about factory-farming?
plant-based Mexican recipe books
Vida Verde is a book by a Mexican-American caterer in California. Recipes include:
- Flan de Coco
- Queso Fresco (Fresh Cheese)
- Handmade Tortillas
- Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos
- Tortilla Soup with Cream
- Mushrooms in Green Mole
- Flan de Coco
Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes is by a Mexican American chef who became vegan while at college. He has developed versions of recipes passed down from his mother, aunts and grandma, with Salvadora and Colombian influences. Find recipes for slow-simmered soups and stews, empanadas, tamales, tacos and quesadillas, topped with salsa, salad and ceviche. Also find recipes for comforting horchata and spicy tamarind juice. There are also sweet recipes for flan, cakes and sweet empanadas.
iSalud! Vegan Mexican Cookbook is by a Mexican chef who teaches people how to cook. Chef Eddie Garza combines his innovative cooking techniques with traditional Mexican staples to offer:
- Spicy Eggplant Barbacoa Tacos
- Jackfruit Guisado Tortas
- Oaxacan Style Mushroom Tamales
- Classic Chile Relleno
- Black Bean & Guacamole Sopes
- Chicken-style Enchiladas with Green Mole Sauce
- Rajas con Crema
- Horchata Mexicana
homemade (vegan) Mexican desserts
Mexican desserts are some of the most delicious, but also some of the most fattening! From dulce de leche (a milky cream flan) to chocolate-chilli desserts, these animal-kind recipes are all plant-based so cholesterol free! Vegan Tres Leches Cake (Paper & Heart) soaked two layers of vanilla sponge in plant milks, then tops with strawberries and whipped coconut milk.
Dulce de Leche (The Nordic Baker) is basically sweet milk, a bit like our condensed milk but much thicker and sweeter, and more like a luxury caramel sauce. It’s used as a topping for fruit to ice-cream.
Churros are a bit like our cinnamon sugar doughnuts, but they are served with a chocolate dipping sauce. And these recipes bake (rather than fry) them, also safer in the kitchen! Vegan Churros (Full of Plants) are simple to make, with just a few ingredients. Try these Oven-Baked Churros (Romy London)
Chocolate Chilli Muffins (Lazy Cat Kitchen) are made with wholesome ingredients, nothing artificial at all. So have two!
make your own Mexican margaritas
Tequila does not usually have a ‘worm in the bottle’. But its cousin mezcal may have, so go with the former. Blueberry Lavender Margarita (Crowded Kitchen) is ideal to use up seasonal fruits. With mint and lime, this is a refreshing summer party treat. And looks gorgeous too!
Apple Cider Margarita (Crowded Kitchen) offers a seasonal twist to the classic recipe. Garnish with cinnamon sugar, this is sweetened with maple syrup, and only takes 5 minutes to make.
Who says salsa has to be made with fiery peppers? This more local Peach Cucumber Salsa (Minimalist Baker) is a wonderful way to use up seasonal produce, but you can still enjoy it alongside Mexican food. The dish still has zing due to jalapenos, but you can leave them out. Serve with fresh coriander.
Peaches are often sold rock-hard if imported, so try to find some juicy ones, fresh from the orchard tree. Keep all stone fruits/pips/seeds away from pets, due to natural cyanide. Cucumber is mostly water, but can upset some people’s stomachs (did you know if you put a slice of cucumber on the roof of your mouth for around a minute, it can eliminate bad breath?) Who knew?