If you have seen a Mexican menu, it may seem like no vegan options are available. Eating vegan foods should not stop you from enjoying a meal at a Mexican restaurant. You will find many vegan options at Mexican restaurants.
Vegans can eat chips with salsa or guacamole, nopales, or tamales. Other vegan options include fajitas, tacos, molletes, and black bean soup. To indulge your sweet tooth, you can opt for vegan Mexican chocolate cake and churros.
The next time you visit a Mexican restaurant, you can savor the following dishes.
Chips With Guacamole or Salsa
Most Mexican restaurants will offer classic tortilla chips with salsa. It is an appetizer. The chips may also come with guacamole. If you are a light eater, you can order it as a part of the main course.
However, you will have to ask your server if the chips were made using vegetable oil. If this is the case, you can opt for them. Salsa is vegan in most cases. With store-bought guacamole, you may find ingredients like mayonnaise and milk.
This is generally not the case with ones offered in Mexican restaurants. In any case, confirm with your server if the dish is completely vegan.
Nopales refer to cactus stems that are used in various Mexican preparations. Hence, they are a genuinely vegan option. They are often sliced into cubes and are tender are juicy. They taste slightly tart, similar to green beans.
They are roasted and can also be found in salads. They are also used to top many other dishes. Depending on how you eat them, they can either be part of a vegan or meat-based dish. Ask your server to serve them vegan.
Nopales are also very healthy as they are highly rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
When you visit a Mexican restaurant, ask for the modified vegan option of Tamales. It contains a corn husk wrapped over a dough made from corn and vegetable shortening.
It is then steamed to make a delicious vegan dish. Tamales are often stuffed with meat like pork or chicken. Just make sure to order the plain tamale without any stuffing.
This is a fully vegan dish. You will also have to ask your server if the dough in the tamale is made of vegetable shortening. If the dough is made of lard, it is not a vegan option.
This dish is originally meant to be a meat dish. It gets its name after the steak cut used in the original dish. However, it is one of the easiest dishes to make in a vegan form. They are often served as make-your-own dishes that you can go ahead and customize.
The dish usually comes with corn tortillas. Ask your server if the tortillas are made of lard. If this is the case, it won’t be a vegan option. You will also specifically have to opt for veggie fajitas. You can add onions, green bell peppers, and roasted red peppers.
Some Mexican restaurants may offer tofu or cauliflower instead of meat. If there is no protein substitute, take extra veggies, and you are good to go.
This is one of the most popular Mexican dishes and can easily be made vegan. You can go ahead and fill it with some tofu, black bean, mushroom, and cauliflower. It is also a great dish to add nopales into as well.
You must ask your server to exclude any cheese or sour cream. Ensure that the tortillas are not fried in lard. Add some guacamole as a substitute for the cheese.
Molletes is a very similar dish to the classic beans on toast, eaten the Mexican way. It uses a base called bolillos. These are Mexican rolls and refried beans. These rolls are vegan.
To ensure the dish is vegan, ask if the refried beans are made with lard. If not, you can go ahead and enjoy the meal. You can top these with peppers and avocado for a delicious meal. They are often eaten as breakfast foods.
Black Bean Soup
If you want to try comfort food at a Mexican restaurant, opt for their black bean soup. It is vegan as long as its broth is not chicken stock. Confirm this with your server to pick a genuinely vegan option.
It is warm to taste and will leave you satisfied. Some restaurants add cream on the top. Ask your server to exclude any dairy.
Mexican Chocolate Cake
The good news for vegans with a sweet tooth is that the Mexican chocolate cake is vegan. The chocolate is made with roasted cocoa nibs. These are added to flour, cinnamon, chili pepper, and sugar.
The ingredients in churros are just flour, sugar, and water. Hence, they are vegan desserts you can opt for in a Mexican restaurant. However, ask your server to confirm that they are egg-free.
With this delicious dessert, your sweet tooth should be satisfied at the end of your Mexican meal.
Rice and Beans
Ask the restaurant for meat-free rice and beans. Ask if the rice is made with chicken stock, in which case you are likely to avoid it. If not, this is bound to be a simple dish to which you will find yourself returning.
This rarely happens; you may find yourself at a Mexican restaurant with no vegan options. In this case, order off the salad menu. You can load up on the veggies and ask for Mexican seasonings.
Ingredients You Should Pay Attention To
Here are two ingredients often used in Mexican food. Many restaurants will use these as well. When you order vegan food at a Mexican restaurant, always ask your server to avoid food that contains these.
Classical Mexican cuisine uses lard. It doesn’t use butter. Today, most restaurants use vegetable oil. However, it is best to confirm if lard is used. Lard is essentially pig fat and adds characteristic flavor to the cornflour dough and refried beans.
It is often used for tamales. However, it is made from pig fat and unsuitable for vegans.
Cheese is not a traditional addition to Mexican food. However, many restaurants add layers to it today. You will find cheeses like queso blanco, panela, and queso fresco. They are often added to quesadillas and enchiladas.
Some restaurants even choose to sprinkle them over any Mexican dish. Instruct your server not to add any cheese to your dish.
Sour cream is an addition to many Mexican dishes. Ask your server not to add it. It will also reduce the cholesterol and calories in your food.
Vegan Options at Mexican Restaurants
Many Mexican restaurants in the US are offering many vegan options to customers. PETA reported in 2016 that a Mexican restaurant in Dallas switched to a 100% vegan menu. They offer tacos, enchiladas, tortas, and pastries, all of which are vegan.
Earlier, a Mexican restaurant in San Diego also teamed up with PETA and released its first all-vegan menu.
Vegan burritos are also now offered at several popular Mexican restaurants. You can try the bean burrito fresco style at Taco Bell. You can also opt for the 7-layer burrito with no sour cream or cheese for a good vegan option.
You can also order similar vegan burritos at Moe’s Southwest Grill. The best part of this restaurant is that you can get all their fajitas, salads, and tacos in vegan options. They switch the meat and cheese with tofu.
Del Taco now offers Beyond Meat crumbles that are vegan. These act as a substitute for tacos and burritos. Hence, Mexican restaurants are increasingly offering a wide range of vegan options.
Similarly, you can also enjoy some vegan Mexican fare at Chipotle. This restaurant offers sofritas. These can be ordered in a bowl or as salads, burritos, or tacos. They contain organic tofu, which is braised with spices and pepper. You can also choose between black or pinto beans.
You also have a choice between brown and white rice here.
Summing It Up
Mexican cuisine offers several vegan options. You can enjoy an appetizer, main course, and dessert, which can be vegan. Mexican restaurants are great places to meet your meat-eating friends and set an example.
As you enjoy your meal, you can also enjoy sides of jalapenos, potatoes, carrots, and onions. You can also enjoy the delicious aromas and sizzling sounds of the cooking.
The good news is that vegans don’t have to miss out on the experience of dining at a Mexican restaurant.