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Sin Carne, Por Favor!

The following article was written by Jared Misner.

If it were acceptable and if I weren’t worried about gaining a few pounds, I might eat chips and salsa every day. Burritos are also on the “I could eat it every day” list. While we’re discussing it, add guacamole to that list.

I’m a big fan of Mexican fare, in case you didn’t catch the hints. There’s just something wonderful about a plate full of frijoles. But as a frequent vegan diner in Mexican restaurants, I know things can get a bit, well, cheesy. Check out these helpful tips to make those chimichangas cruelty-free:

  • No cheese, please: This is probably the most useful phrase in any Mexican restaurant. While not necessarily the case in Mexico itself, Americanized Mexican restaurants feel the need to slather nearly every menu item with cheese. The words “without cheese” can easily make many menu items vegan.
  • Cut the cream: Sour cream seems to be the Robin to most Mexican restaurants’ cheesy Batman. Order your burrito sans sour cream and you’ll cut not only the calories and cholesterol but also the cruelty.
  • Lotsa lard: A lot of Mexican restaurants cook their pinto beans in lard or other gross meat juices. Call ahead to see if your favorite Mexican restaurant offers vegetarian beans. Black beans are usually a safe option.
  • Chain gang: Some chain restaurants serving Tex-Mex or Mexican foods offer vegan meats or meat alternatives. Chipotle offers vegan chicken in some locations and Moe’s offers tofu as a protein choice in all its locations. And Taco Bell will gladly substitute potatoes or beans for meat in that burrito. Fiesta, anyone?

Mexican food, with its beans, rice, corn and tortillas, is often a vegan’s paradise. Whether you dip into a healthy dose of guacamole or twin tostadas, we’re sure it will be delicioso! Tip over a margarita and eat your heart out. Mexican restaurants are great places to meet up with omnivore friends to show them just how easy veganism can be.

Have a favorite Mexican restaurant? Tell us what it is in the comments!

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  • Diane says:

    It’s super easy to make Spanish rice and refried beans be completely vegan. When you make the Spanish rice, you can and should toast the rice in a vegetable oil. Then, for the liquid, you can add vegetarian vegetable broth or stock with some tomato sauce. The other ingredients — onions, bell peppers, garlic, and spices — are already vegan-friendly. As for refried beans, the trick is to start off by making your own pot of pinto beans. In order to get the smoky flavor normally acquired via pork, you can always add liquid smoke. My real trick is in using a variety of spices labeled as “pinto bean seasoning”, though. Add it and some cilantro in the last 30 minutes of cooking and you’ve got great beans. Then you can drain some beans for frying and use all-vegetable shortening or oil to mash and fry your beans in. Add chili powder for a really tasty pan of refried beans. And as for tortillas, you can always try to look for homemade recipes online and replace the lard with all-vegetable shortening.

    There you go. Now you can have rice and beans with your all-vegan enchiladas, homemade bean and “cheese” breakfast tacos, and other tasty Mexican and Tex-Mex things.

  • Brittany says:

    I recently whent to a mexican restaraunt and tired of my usual cheese encheladas as a vegetarian, and really being in the mood for vegan fajitas. I asked if they had just the onions and bell peppers that are usually cooked with it. I was a vegetarian and wanted vegetarian fajitas. They came out with a large pile of brocoli, coliflower, carrots, and zuchini, with mushrooms. It was amazing and huge and the best meal I had had in forever. I will be ordering that from now on no more cheesy nasty greasyness that doesn’t settle well anyway. :)

  • Jen says:

    Beware, Taco Bell’s potato burrito has meat in it!

  • antoinette says:

    I know some restaurants cook their rice with meat broth so you might want to check about that too

  • alise says:

    My favorite Mexican restaurant is Tex-Mex (here in Latvia is restaurant with title like that), where can get vegetarian meals.

  • Christine says:

    My local joint, El Coyote in Monroe, CT, has an amazing vegan black bean soup (no lard, just ask them to hold the sour cream) and the best salad I’ve ever eaten: greens, avocado and ginger dressing. I don’t care that these are the only items I order from their menu. They are great every time, along with chips, salsa and one margarita!

  • Sarah Rojas Escalona says:

    Slathering guacamole and salsa verde on all food makes it taste better. Best guacamole recipe: 3 avacados, 1/4 of an onion, half stalk of cilantro, 3 jalapenos (or 2 if you’re a wuss), and a lil salt, all in a blender. For the salsa, just substitute tomatillos for the avacados. XD

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