The eight-day festival of Passover celebrates the emancipation of the Jewish people from slavery. The Passover Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the holiday in early spring and includes six foods displayed on the ceremonial Seder plate that symbolize the Hebrew struggle and escape from Egypt.
Except for the honey, which is easily replaced with agave nectar, four of these foods are vegan. For the vegan, a roasted beet is used to signify the blood of lamb sacrifice at the Temple.
Vegans can choose to contemplate compassion for the unnecessary sacrifice of animals and substitute the roasted beet, reminiscent of blood. For the hard-boiled egg, a symbol of new beginnings after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the vegan can use roasted turnips or parsnips. Bitter herbs, such as horseradish and salted water for dipping parsley, celery leaves or boiled potato are also part of the Seder plate.
Religious Jews do not mix or eat meat and dairy at a same meal. Of course this is not an issue for the Jewish vegan since they don’t eat meat or dairy at any meal.
Probably the most significant Passover observance involves avoiding leavened bread. This commemorates the fact that the Israelites left Egypt in a hurry and didn’t have enough time to allow the bread to rise. Matzo is the unleavened bread of Passover and is one of the six ingredients on the Seder plate.
Observing Passover includes omitting all grains and legumes, which would include soy products. Sephardic Jews, a community related to Israelites who migrated to Spain and Portugal can consume legumes at Passover.
Quinoa is acceptable because it is actually a seed. Nuts in the Charoset on the Seder plate, a mixture of apples, nuts and wine and other protein-rich vegetables can also replace legumes.
An entirely raw vegan meal can be a protein rich and delicious alternative for the celebration. Suggested Menu, Vegan Bite By Bite ©Marilyn Peterson 2012:
Mock Liver Pate – page 180
Kale and Cranberry Salad – page 109
Creamy Cilantro Dressing – page 173
Spicy Beet Borscht – page 120
Roasted Root Vegetables – page 144
Tangerine Ice Cream – page 200
Spicy Beet Borscht and Cashew Sour Cream
This soup is best chilled before serving, and is easy to make in advance. You may adjust the lemon, garlic and spice to taste.
1 quart vegetable juice (R.W. Knudsen ‘Very Veggie’)
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 small or 2 cups beets, peeled, cubed small
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 pinches cayenne pepper
dill sprig garnish (optional)
Cashew Sour Cream
1 cup cashews, whole and raw
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup water
Blend one-third of the vegetable juice in a blender with the garlic. Add the beets, lemon juice, remaining vegetable juice and cayenne.
Blend until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.
Cashew Sour Cream
Add the ingredients in the order listed into a blender and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Chill until ready to serve.
Serve the Spicy Beet Borscht with a dollop or two of the Cashew Sour Cream. Garnish with a sprig of dill.
Marilyn Peterson is an accomplished vegan chef, healthy lifestyle consultant and author of Vegan Bite By Bite. Follow Marilyn on Facebook and Twitter