Vegan Mexican Food

Vegan Mexican Food

When you think of some of the most delicious and satisfying foods out there, there’s no doubt that Mexican food is some of the best out there, but did you know that you can also enjoy great Mexican food even if you’re vegan?

Vegans often struggle with adapting food from different cultures to be vegan, but Mexican food is one of the easiest cuisines to adapt and make vegan, so if you’re someone who lives a plant-based lifestyle, then Mexican food is an excellent choice to try and adapt!

The best bit about creating vegan Mexican food is that you can even make sure that your food is super healthy and nutritious too, which is great for those who are also trying to stay on a diet. 

In this article, we’ll look at some of the best aspects of vegan Mexican food, including what some of the most popular vegan options are, as well as providing you with the best alternatives to traditionally non-vegan ingredients, and how to make your Mexican food vegan whilst dining out. 

Vegan Mexican Cuisine Ingredients

If you’re not familiar with Mexican food, as a vegan it can be difficult to understand what dishes regularly use non-vegan ingredients, or what dishes are usually okay for vegans to eat. 

Some Mexican food isn’t suitable for vegans, while others are completely suitable for vegans, so it’s about finding the right dishes and deciding upon appropriate alternatives where necessary. 

So, let’s take a look at some of the most popular dishes and ingredients in Mexican cuisine, and whether or not they are going to be suitable for a vegan diet. 

Corn

Arguably the most prominent part of Mexican dishes is corn, and since so many Mexican dishes rely on corn, it’d be somewhat difficult to imagine it without corn at all. 

It might not be particularly rich in nutrients like some other ingredients in Mexican food, however when you eat corn alongside other foods, like beans, then the amino acids found in corn actually help to digest the other nutrients.

Plus it’s gluten-free, has practically no fat, and is high in fiber too.  Corn helps to bring vivid hues to many different dishes, and it’s common in Latin America to plant red or blue corn alongside the traditional white and yellow corn we’re used to seeing. 

Practically every savory Mexican dish will contain corn, so if you’re new to Mexican food, then expect to see it everywhere, especially in chilis, soups, or even some salsas!

Tortillas

Tortillas made from corn are also present in a lot of different Mexican dishes and are best eaten when warm and fresh.

Although, it’s easy to find them in many grocery stores too so long as you’re not too bothered about the lack of freshness. 

Since they’re made up entirely of corn, tortillas are completely vegan, so you don’t have to stress about them when you see them on the menu.

Since they lack any flour, it does mean that they tend to be small, but this also makes them gluten-free.  Flour tortillas on the other hand are much larger and are used to make quesadillas and burritos. These tortillas typically use wheat flour, which can be made using either wheat or whole grain.

Traditionally these tortillas would contain tallow or lard, but most flour tortillas that are made commercially will be vegan. 

For the healthiest option, you should try to opt for organic whole wheat tortillas, these are easy to find at most grocery stores

Rice

Rice is another common part of many Mexican dishes. It often compliments the flavors of the rest of the dish perfectly, so it’s always worth including some rice in your cooking, especially if you’re cooking beans. 

The typical rice that is most prevalent in Mexican cooking is long-grain white rice, which unfortunately lacks any real nutrition or fiber, but it still tastes great, and is entirely vegan! 

Beans

Arguably the most popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine alongside rice, there are a number of different ways that can be cooked and served in Mexican cuisine. They’re most commonly served whole, but it’s also common for them to be mashed up and fried in a pan. 

Beans are a fantastic ingredient in Mexican cuisine for vegans, because not only are they vegan, but they’re also super nutritious too.  The most common beans found in Mexican cuisine include pinto beans and black beans. 

Other Common Vegan Mexican Ingredients

  • Guacamole: The perfect accompaniment for any vegan Mexican dish, guacamole mainly consists of avocado and some other ingredients, including salt, ground pepper, cilantro, and garlic. 
  • Salsa: When translated, salsa means sauce, and whilst it can contain a wide range of ingredients, salsa typically contains tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and some other seasonings. 
  • Peppers: One of the main aspects of Mexican cuisine that makes it so great is the spice, so you’ll often find jalapenos and habaneros in most dishes. 

Alternatives For Non-Vegan Ingredients

Whilst there are numerous ingredients found in Mexican cuisine that are vegan, it’s hard to avoid the fact that some of the most common ingredients found in Mexican cuisine are either meat or dairy products, which obviously poses an issue for vegans. 

These products include beef mince or diced chicken, which are found in burritos, quesadillas, and a whole load of other dishes.

Also found in a lot of Mexican dishes are cheese and sour cream, both of which are dairy products, which aren’t suitable for vegans either! 

Thankfully, all of these ingredients are able to be substituted fairly easily. You can easily replace dairy-based cheese with dairy-free options that are available at most grocery stores. 

When it comes to replacing meat products, you can either choose from the vegan meat alternatives out there, or you can replace the meat using natural ingredients, such as mushrooms, or beans! 

Vegan Mexican Food And Dining Out

Whilst Mexican cuisine is easy to make vegan whilst cooking at home, dining out at Mexican restaurants can prove to be difficult for vegans, as some Mexican restaurants don’t actually provide any suitable options for vegans at all. 

This is due to many restaurants incorporating animal-based products into otherwise plant-based dishes. Beans might contain pork scraps, or be refried using lard.

The rice might be boiled in chicken stock, and some restaurants might even use sour cream in their guacamole too, so you have to be careful.

Tortillas would usually contain lard, however, because more people have become concerned with the effects of oils on their health, most tortillas will use vegetable oil instead now. 

If you want to eat Mexican food whilst dining out, you might be better suited to eating at one of the Mexican-inspired restaurants out there, such as Chipotle, Qdoba, or Taco Del Mar, which all provide detailed guides for what is or isn’t vegan at their restaurants.

So, it’s always worth checking out the restaurant you’re planning to dine out at ahead of time to make sure that the restaurant provides plenty of vegan options, or at least has options that can be made vegan easily. 

Often when you find a non-gourmet restaurant that serves Mexican food alongside other cuisines, it means that the food will taste the most authentic, and once you find your favorite place for vegan Mexican food, you’ll never go anywhere else. 

Although Mexican food is so simple to make, it’s not often that you’ll come across bad vegan Mexican food, so even if you have to make some adjustments to your order for it to be vegan friendly, it will still taste great, even if the ingredients aren’t the freshest! 

Cooking Vegan Mexican Food

Cooking great vegan Mexican food might seem rather daunting, especially for the novice cook, but even the most popular dishes can be cooked by people who have little experience with cooking, so it’s an easy way to make a delicious meal. 

For example, cooking rice and beans is extremely simple, and cutting up vegetables or mashing avocado isn’t too difficult when you learn the proper technique.

It might take some time to figure out what seasonings and spices to use at first, it doesn’t take long to figure it out. 

Mexican cuisine is hard to mess up, and whilst your cooking might not quite be as good as you might find in Mexico, you should find that your cooking will taste a lot better than your skills might suggest. 

Conclusion

So, to summarize, Mexican food is one of the cuisines most suitable for vegans thanks to the wide variety of plant-based products used in so many of their dishes.

You’ll often need to remove the animal-based ingredients found in them before they’re suitable for vegans, but it’s so easy to cook great Mexican dishes at home. Although you might have more difficulty finding good vegan options at some restaurants when dining out!

Brandon White
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