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Celebrate a Compassionate Hanukkah

Written by Ashley Palmer | December 1, 2010

Hanukkah, O Hanukkah! Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays—and not just for the obvious reason (presents!). It is a time to rejoice with family and friends while observing the traditions of our ancestors, such as lighting the Hanukkah Menorah, singing festive songs, and feasting on seasonal dishes.

Jewish tradition places importance on treating animals with compassion, and the Jewish concept of tsa’ar ba’alei chayim explains that humans should not cause animals pain. A fabulous way to have a compassionate holiday and take a stand against the mistreatment of animals on factory farms is by celebrating with a vegan Hanukkah.

Make Hanukkah sweet for your taste buds and for animals by baking some festive vegan treats. This jelly-doughnut cupcake recipe is a modern twist on the classic sufganiyot (Israeli jelly doughnuts) and a delicious new way to celebrate compassionately. Try these simple sugar cookies and use Hanukkah-themed cookie cutters to create fun shapes. Get some vegan Hanukkah gelt to share or top gifts with. Most dark chocolate is dairy-free, so look for dark-chocolate gelt (it is often the silver-foiled coins).

My Hanukkah celebration isn’t complete without latkes, aka potato pancakes, and I am looking forward to cooking some this year. Since the main ingredient in latkes is potatoes, the dish lends itself to being vegan. Apple sauce and nondairy sour cream make great toppings. Try out this easy latke recipe:

Vegan Potato Latkes
3 lbs. peeled baking potatoes
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
Egg replacer equivalent of 2 eggs
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 Tbsp. unbleached flour
Canola oil for frying

  • Grate the potatoes and squeeze out the moisture. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes with all the remaining ingredients except the oil.
  • Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet. Place 3 tablespoonfuls of the potato mixture into the skillet for each latke. Use a spatula to flatten the mixture to form the latke. Fry over medium heat for approximately 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
  • Drain on paper towels and serve hot with apple sauce and nondairy sour cream.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Happy Hanukkah! What vegan dishes will be part of your celebration this year?

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  • yusi says:

    im from israel vegan for a lomg time – but still before going vegan

    no meat in hanuka

  • Coby Siegenthaler says:

    see the DVD “Earthlings” and you will be Vegan for the rest of your life and much healthier!

  • Rosebud says:

    Nanci asked why not include eggs? All egg laying hens are sent to slaughter- including free range. There are no retirement communities for farmed animals (or any animal commodified for human purposes.) They all go to slaughter when their productivity declines. Egg laying hens suffer horribly. They are confined in battery cages. It is extremely cruel. You can go online and learn the horrible reality.

  • Pandora says:

    Kim – meat is not a important food on Hanukkah. Latkes and donughnuts are fried in oil and oil is symbolic on Hanukkah. Meat is rarely served at any of the Hanukkah celebrations I’ve been to. Cheers!

  • Maria says:

    Nanci – Because the chickens are kept in extremely inhumane conditions to produce eggs.

  • dawn says:

    Katia, if you click on the words ‘egg replacer’in the menu, you will see other options for the ‘egg’ in the recipe. :)

  • vegan4life says:


    there is a big difference between vegatarian and vegan. There may be no meat- But eggs and milk are sometimes included in the recipies, making them not vegan.

    Good on you Peta for helping make Hannuka more compassionate!

  • Kim says:

    Laura – Meat is always served on Hanukkah. Some serve chicken but usually beef brisket is served.

  • nanci dagragnano says:

    It is great to have a religious celebration without meat but I quite don’t understand why not including eggs, which means no slaughtering.

  • KATIA says:

    I recently went vegan (love it!),we moved to Israel 2 years ago.yes the home of Hannuka!Egg-replacer (among many other vegan products) is not available here,can anyone give me a tip in how to replace Egg-replacer?? I love latkes,so any tip is welcome,
    Happy Hannuka!

  • paya says:

    Actually, you dont need egg replacement here, if you dont squeeze all the moisture – potatoes contains amyl that keeps that all together. In my country this a typical foodwith 2 varieties
    a. add garlic and marjoram to the basic described above
    b. add sour cabagge and sunflower seeds
    option B rulez! try it out :)

  • Samantha says:

    Thank you for the vegan potato latkes recipe. I am so excited to try it! :)

  • Curtis says:

    I’m not Jewish but the Potato Latkes sound yummy! Since I like to be festive, I’m going to make them this weekend.

  • Sarah says:

    @Laura- latkes traditionally are made with egg, that’s why a vegan version is needed. There is also lots of chocolate at Hanukah- also not usually vegan. Cheers!

  • brian shookman says:

    I’m a new PETA member, have been mainly vegetarian for about 20 years, and now going vegan. Thank you for the Hanuca article; I’m Jewish and appreciate it. I understand Laura’s comment that Hanuca demands no meat, this is correct. But the holiday doesn’t exclude it either. In fact, Jewish tradition holds that without meat at the festive table, there is no true joy. Hanuca, per se, just requires foods made with oil… Be well.

  • Laura says:

    I am not sure why Peta needs to ask for a vegan Chanukah. As far as I know, Chanukah is already vegan, what with the emphasis on donuts and latkas. No meat included whatsoever.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    I’m not Jewish but I love potato latkes, jelly donuts, and all of the other great food that goes with Hanukkah. I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of Jewish families so for many years I was invited to Hanukkah parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Purim parties, Passover seders, and even High Holiday celebrations. All of this instilled in me a great respect for the Jewish religion and traditions. Have a wonderful Hanukkah, thank you for the recepies, I will try them!!

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