It is Passover and there is no better time to think about going Vegan. Well, any time is a good time to think about going Vegan but Passover is all about persecution, slavery and leading those oppressed out of bondage.
Yet as people all over the world sit down to retell the story of the Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt, they will celebrate at a Seder with Gefilite fish, chicken soup, lamb shankbones, and a dozen dishes made with eggs. They will pour drops of red wine on the tablecloth to represent the ten plagues and the blood of slaves with a total disconnect to the blood shed from the animals that make up their holiday feast.
How is one being’s oppression more or less important than another’s? The simple answer is: IT ISN’T.
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island is an authority on Judaism and Vegetarianism and an activist in the United States and Israel. He is President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and co-founder and coordinator of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV).
Dr. Schwartz was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) in 2005. I have had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Dr. Schwartz on various occasions including talks he has given to promote vegetarianism. He is the author of the well-known book, Judaism and Vegetarianism.
To hear a podcast on iTunes of Rae Sikora’s interview with Dr. Schwartz, “Why People Should Be Vegetarians,” click here.
While Passover is a time of a long list of “do not eat” foods, there is no religious requirement to eat animal products. Meat, fish, dairy and eggs are all products of horrible oppression, suffering and death. If you ask me, that is NO way to celebrate any holiday, let alone a holiday about exodus from slavery and persecution!
There are a lot of books and web sites offering vegetarian and Vegan Passover recipes and ideas for Vegan seders, including Jewish Vegetarians of North America and ShalomVeg.com mentioned above (don’t miss out on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s painstaking mission to perfect Vegan Matzo Balls which you can find on ShalomVeg.com or on Isa’s web site, PostPunk Kitchen). So Google or Bing away and make your Pesach a compassionate one.
For me, my favorite Passover dish was Fried Matzo while my parents loved Matzo Brei (matzah breit). Both are usually made with eggs and butter but that’s not compassionate at all. So here is a Vegan recipe for Fried Matzo/Matzo Brei. I went simple and just added some scallions but next time I think some Daiya cheese would be delicious. Maybe salsa. Or apple sauce. Or chocolate. You can make it sweet or savory by adding whatever ingredients or toppings make your heart sing 1,000 verses of Dayenu (Da-da-ye-nu, da-da-ye-nu, da-da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu).
Note: this recipe contains tofu which is made from beans so it is not Kosher for Passover for those not eating kitniyot (beans, rice or corn).
Also see an updated Matzo Brei recipe at http://thevword.net/2013/03/matzoh-brei/
Vegan Fried Matzo/Matzo Brei
1 package of silken tofu (or any tofu)
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. dried garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. black salt (or Kosher salt)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup chickpea flour (or any flour)
1 Tbs. arrowroot powder (or corn starch or potato starch)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 – 1 cup water
8 sheets of matzo
2 stalks of scallions, finely chopped (optional)
In a large bowl or food processor, add the silken tofu, turmeric, garlic powder, black salt and olive oil. Mix well. Add the flour, arrowroot powder and non-dairy milk. Add water slowly while mixing/processing until you have a very loose batter. If you are using any other ingredients like scallions, add them into the batter.
Note: if you are using a blender or food processor, you might need less liquid. Alas, I am gadget-free so I needed about a full cup of water in addition to the non-dairy milk.
Break the matzo into pieces (I broke each sheet into 4 pieces) and soak in a bowl of warm water for about 30 seconds, just to soften it. Set the pieces aside.
Heat a large skillet and spray with the cooking oil (or if you’re not worried about calories, just use oil). Take the pieces of matzo and dunk them into the tofu batter. Shake off the excess (it cooks better when the matzo has a thin coating of batter) and put them in the hot pan to fry. When you see the batter brown, flip the pieces and fry the other side. It should take about 4 minutes on each side, depending on crispy you want the matzo.
Cook in batches until you have fried all the matzo. Top with the garnish or sauce of your choice.
Enjoy and Happy Passover!