I’m about as Rust Belt as you can get. I grew up in Detroit, raised by a Polish immigrant and a mom who worked on an assembly line. And guess what—going vegan wasn’t hard at all. It’s easier than ever to replace every food you love with a vegan version, and that includes the beloved pączki!
I have childhood memories of my dad going to Polish bakeries in Hamtramck, Michigan, lining up in the early morning to get boxes of pączki for his family. It was a tradition that he took very seriously—one that I wanted to carry on in his memory after he died, even though I didn’t eat animals and wouldn’t eat the lard-filled pączki of my youth.
What Are Pączki?
Pączki (pronounced “punch-kee”) are round, deep-fried, doughnut-like pastries filled with fruit or cream and covered with powdered sugar. They’re traditionally filled with plum and wild-rose jams and made using all the animal fat, eggs, and sugar in a household before Lent. These days, you can find delicious types of vegan pączki throughout the Midwest and Northeast that are made without causing any harm to animals.
Why Vegan Pączki?
No tradition can justify using animals to satisfy our own fleeting cravings. We know that smart, social chickens are forced to lay eggs constantly on egg farms and that cows on dairy farms are robbed of the opportunity to raise their babies, so why wouldn’t we choose a more compassionate option?
OK, When and Where Can I Get One?!
Pączki are typically only available during the lead-up to Pączki Day, which is celebrated every year on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. They’re usually made in limited quantities and special flavors. (In the list below, check out It’s a Good Day’s Michigan-themed pączki—including a Better Made Potato Chips flavor.)
If you don’t see your city listed here, encourage your local bakery to offer them or check out the DIY recipe below.
Chicago Metro Area, Illinois
Detroit Metro Area, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Can’t find pączki near you? Make some at home with this recipe from The Sweetest Vegan:
It’s easy to eat all your favorite foods without hurting animals. Take the 3-Week Vegan Challenge for recipes, support, and more: