Jewish meals are all about the symbolism, so I've assembled a Seder plate that honors all of the traditional history and messages without any animal products! My Vegan Seder Plate is the perfect beginning to a Passover dinner.
I have friends of all faiths (I even have a Vegan Easter Recipes Roundup!), and I love any opportunity to talk about the different traditions that make us feel connected to something bigger. You can imagine how excited I get when those conversations turn to food! Jews notoriously love celebrating with food. Most Jewish holidays are filled with dishes that represent parts of our history and offer important reminders of our spirituality, and Passover is no exception. To start a week of keeping Passover, here's how I create a Vegan Seder Plate...no lamb bone or egg required!
Traditional Seder Plate
Passover is a celebration of the Israelites exodus from slavery in Egypt. It follows the Hebrew calendar and typically falls in March or April. The first night of Passover is celebrated with a seder dinner, when we make a special family meal. We eat foods with symbolic significance, beginning with a seder plate. The traditional seder plate has a couple non-vegan components, so this post will outline how I make an animal-free seder plate for my family that still honors all of the symbolism and meaning of Passover!
- Charoset - Charoset resembles the brick and mortar made by the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt. It's made with apples, walnuts, and wine or figs and dates. Many people use sugar or honey to sweeten their Charoset, but my version uses maple syrup instead!
- Karpas - The herb! This is parsley, a springtime green that acts as a symbol of new beginnings and the initial flourishing of the first years the Israelites spent in Egypt.
- Maror - This is horseradish, a bitter portion to remind Jews of the bitterness of the slavery endured in Egypt. I use a spoonful from a jar or a piece of horseradish root.
- Chazaret- This is the bitter green item on a Seder palte. We use a leaf of Romaine lettuce or even kale to symbolize the fact that the Jewish stay in Egypt began soft (like the leafy part), but ended hard and bitter (like the stem).
So exactly what isn’t vegan?
In the traditional Seder plate, there’s baytzah, or egg, and also zoreah, or shank bone. Here's how I'll make these vegan options for my family this Passover!
- Roasted Egg - There are many different explanations for why a roasted hard-boiled egg sits on the Seder plate. Some families say the roundness of the egg represents the cycle of life, hope and new beginnings. A boiled and skinned potato can represent those same things...and even looks very similar visually! You could also use an avocado pit or a peeled orange. Personally, I love that the orange represents feminism and LGBTQ+ inclusion for reformed Jews! (source)
- Zoreah - This is traditionally a lamb shank bone. It represents the paschal lamb sacrificed the night of the Exodus, when the Jews left Egypt. I use a roasted beet as a substitute here! (source) This represents the blood said to be on the doorsteps of Israelite homes on the eve of the Exodus. It's a gory image, especially for an animal-loving vegan like me, but so much of Judaism is symbolism! We remember and honor even the tragic parts of our history...which I prefer to do with veggies 😉
Modern Additions to the Seder Plate
Another more modern addition, and one that feels especially fitting this year, is a banana that reminds us of refugees like Aylan Kurdi, a young Turkish boy who lost his life during the Syrian refugee crisis. He loved bananas, and this sweet fruit is a reminder of his life and of children everywhere who are caught up in a modern exodus. Rabbi Dan Moscowitz says, "May they be guarded and protected along their journey to safety, shielded by the love of their parents, watched over by God full of mercy and compassion." (source)
I hope this information was helpful for my fellow vegan Jewish friends and informative for anyone who's wondered what Passover and Seder is! My love for food feels so connected to my heritage, and I really enjoy the rituals and traditions that start in the kitchen. I hope you'll post your own vegan Seder plates and tag me on Instagram so I can see them!
More Posts Combining Veganism and Judaism
- Vegan Passover Recipes - The Ultimate Roundup!
- Nana's Famous Apple-Walnut Charoset for Passover
- Ultimate Rosh Hashanah Recipe Roundup (vegan + gluten-free)
- Vegan Coconut Macaroons (refined sugar-free, paleo, egg-free, gluten-free)
- Hanukkah Gelt Cookies (vegan + grain-free + paleo + refined sugar-free)
- Fun with Food: Hanukkah Snacks Edition (vegan + gluten-free)
- Vegan and Gluten-Free Hamantaschen with Raspberry Chia Jam
- Vegan Matzo Crack (Refined Sugar-Free) for Passover
- Easy Homemade Hanukkah Gelt (vegan + paleo)
- Ultimate Vegan Hanukkah Recipe Roundup
- Vegan Grilled Cheese Star of David Hanukkah Sandwiches
- Crispy Vegan and Gluten Free Potato Latkes or Spiralized Sweet Potato Latkes
- Haroset: Vegan No-Honey Charoset
- Maror (bitter herb): horseradish (either a spoonful from a jar or horseradish root)
- Chazeret (bitter green): romaine lettuce, escarole or endive
- Karpas: parsley
- Zeroah (or z'roa): in place of the roasted lamb shank-bone use a small whole beet
- Beitzah: in place of the roasted hard boiled egg use an avocado pit, small cooked potato, flower or a whole small orange (which represents feminism and supports the LGBTQ+ equality)
- Serve matzah on the side of the seder plate
- Place each item in a separate mini bowl in a round formation at the perimeter of the round seder plate.