Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes

Who’s ready to throw a mouth-watering vegan Purim feast? 

The Jewish holiday, which begins on the evening of February 25th and ends the following night, is recounted in the Book of Esther. It celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, an Achaemenid Persian Empire official who was planning to kill all the Jews.

Purim is known as the most joyous day on the Jewish calendar, and is celebrated annually with a carnival-like atmosphere.

It’s common for Jews to head to synagogue and dress up in costume for a retelling of the Purim story, which is typically a raucous affair. It’s customary to stamp your feet or hiss whenever the villain Haman’s name is mentioned. Children are often given graggers (noisemakers) to drown out the evil moniker.

The holiday lasts for two nights, and the Jewish people are also encouraged to give to charity and send meals to friends.

On the second night, it is customary to hold a feast just before sundown that consists of typical Jewish holiday foods as well as many plant-based dishes, which honor the heroine of the Purim story—kosher Queen Esther.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
Purim is well-known as a joyous and carnival-like celebration. | iStock

The Story of Purim

According to the scripture, shortly after Persian King Ahasuerus ascended the throne and had his wife executed, he held a beauty pageant to find his new bride.

Esther was forcibly taken to the king’s harem by her uncle Mordechai and reluctantly became the Queen of Persia after she was chosen by the king. However, per Mordechai’s directive, Esther refused to divulge her nationality, even to her new husband. 

Shortly after Esther became queen, Haman, one of Ahasuerus’s ministers, was promoted to prime minister and didn’t hide his hatred for the Jewish people.

When Mordechai, who had foiled a plot to assassinate King Ahasuerus, refused to follow the king’s decree and bow to Haman, King Ahasuerus gave Haman permission to exterminate the Jews. 

In an effort to save his people, Mordechai asked Esther to approach the king and encourage him to spare the Jews. At first she declined, but she ultimately agreed and told her uncle to gather all the Jews in Shushan and let them all fast for three days and nights.

Once the fast was over, Queen Esther approached the king and told him she wanted to host a small wine feast for him and Haman.

Thwarting Haman

Though the feast went well, Haman encountered Mordechai as he was leaving, and again Haman became enraged when Mordechai refused to bow to him. He even constructed a gallows and vowed to get permission from the king to hang Mordechai.

When the king couldn’t sleep that night, his servants recounted the story of how Mordechai thwarted his assasination attempt. The king promised to honor Mordechai just as Haman was going to ask for permission to hang him.

At the second feast the following night, Esther pleaded with the king to spare the Jews. She noted that Haman was the one who wanted them all killed. King Ahasuerus agreed. When he found out that Haman constructed a gallows to hang Mordechai, ordered that Haman be hanged instead.

After Haman’s death, his estate was given to Esther and Mordechai was appointed prime minister in Haman’s stead.

However, the decree to kill the Jews remained in effect. And, according to Persian law, once a king issues a decree it can not be rescinded. However, the king gave Mordechai and Esther permission to write up a decree that countermanded Haman’s edict. 

This decree granted the Jews permission to defend themselves against their enemies. After two days of battles, the Jews were victorious against their enemies and celebrated accordingly.

Mordechai and Esther established a holiday to commemorate these amazing events, which is known as Purim.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
Many traditional Purim dishes feature vegan staple ingredients. | iStock

Vegan Purim Dishes

While food served on Purim isn’t traditionally all vegan, it is often vegetable-heavy in honor of Queen Esther. 

That’s because, in order to keep kosher while living in King Ahasuerus’ palace, she stuck to a vegetarian diet. More specifically, Esther’s diet apparently consisted of nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. That is why many of these foods appear on the Purim table in some form.

Hamantaschen—a triangle-shaped cookie typically filled with jam that’s meant to resemble villain Haman’s ears—is the most well-known Purim food. Hamantaschen are frequently filled with poppy seeds, which were one of Queen Esther’s favorite foods.

Another Purim tradition is to eat food that is shaped like a triangle, like hamantaschen and kreplach, which is a dumpling often filled with meat or vegetables. Again, the triangle represents Haman.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes

LIVEKINDLY reached out to several popular food bloggers of Jewish faith for some of their favorite vegan Purim dishes. Each blogger included personal details about what the dish means to them, their family, and how it relates to Purim.

Check out a handful of popular plant-based Purim dishes below.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
This is a savory twist on traditional Hamantaschen cookies. | What Jew Wanna Eat

Pita and Hummus Hamantaschen

“I love creating a savory twist on the normally sweet cookie and the pita and hummus Hamantaschen are especially delicious straight out of the oven,” says Amy Kritzer Becker. “It’s warm hummus on pillow pita with a crunchy pine nut topping.”

Get the recipe here.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
This brightly colored salad includes poppy seeds, which are a popular Purim staple. | Tori Avey

Citrus Avocado Salad With Poppy Seed Dressing

“When winter rolls around, I always return to this brightly colored citrus avocado salad with poppy seed dressing. Citrus is like nature’s gift to us during cold weather. It’s refreshing and packed with much-needed vitamin C to help fight cold and flu season,” explains Tori Avey.

She adds: “When combined with avocados and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, it’s like an edible piece of art. Poppy seeds are traditionally eaten during Purim, so this salad is also a great option for your holiday menu!”

Get the recipe here.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
This high-protein stew is inspired by Esther’s vegetarian diet. | Vegan Atlas

Cinnamon-Spiced Chickpea and Lentil Stew 

“Purim is so much about sweets and treats that planning a festive main dish can get lost in the shuffle of making hamantaschen by the dozens. But following the tradition of the holiday’s heroine, Queen Esther, you just might be tempted by this simple, symbolically meaningful entrée to serve before dessert,” explains Nava Atlas.

Atlas explains that legend has it, Esther “ate only legumes, grains, nuts and fruit as a way to maintain a kosher diet. She loved seeds, too—caraway and poppy in particular.”

Given Esther’s vegetarian diet, this plant-based stew will fit right in as part of your Purim spread.

“Ultimately, as we know, Esther bested the evil Haman to save the Jewish people of Persia, all while maintaining her simple diet—one we’d call plant-based today—as a way to remain true to her faith,” Atlas concluded.

Get the recipe here.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
Both pomegranate and green beans are high in vitamins C and K. | Nosherium

Barberry Pomegranate Green Beans

“Purim is one of my favorite holidays for so many reasons—nostalgia, love of costumes, the many ways we can read the story, and the feasting! Oh boy, the feasting! Though I am an omnivore, I like to honor this holiday with plant-based foods,” says Yael Cohen.

She continues: “Queen Esther kept her faith a secret in the king’s harem but observed the laws of kashrut (kosher) by only eating legumes and fruits. This recipe honors our story’s heroine, and the beautiful bounty of the land.”

Get the recipe here.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
This seitan brisket is a vegan variation on a traditional Purim dish. | Zardyplants

Vegan Brisket

“My vegan brisket is perfect for any holiday, or mishpacha (family) table, but especially for Purim. This recipe is based off a tomato sauce brisket my grandmother Betty used to make. She was a Jewish caterer for 60+ years and believed in showing her love for people with her cooking,” says Elizabeth Madsen. 

She adds: “Brisket is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish for a festive gathering (be that virtual or in-person), and to celebrate another holiday where the Jews were able to defeat a major threat.”

Get the recipe here.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
This Kreplach recipe features sweet potato in place of the traditional ground meat. | Estee’s Kitchen

Sweet Potato and Onion Kreplach

“Kreplach are a treat year-round,” notes Estee Raviv. “I always like to prepare them for Purim dinner because of their shape that looks like a savory hamantaschen.” 

Kreplach are often filled with ground meat. But, this vegan-friendly version is made with sweet potatoes and sautéed onions.

Get the recipe here.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
This colorful bowl combines vegetables, nuts, and grains. | Jewish Food Hero

Esther’s Vegan Grain Bowl

“I made this recipe to honor Queen Esther—the heroine of the Purim Story,” says Kenden Alfond. 

The dish is great if you plan on having a Purim party for one. It is filled with colorful vegetables, nuts, and grains, which Esther is said to have enjoyed. “This recipe was the inspiration for the cookbook Feeding Women in the Bible, Feeding Ourselves,” Kenden adds.

Get the recipe here.

Celebrate Vegan Purim with These 8 Recipes
These floral Hamantaschen combine ground walnut with orange blossom. | May I Have That Recipe

Walnut and Orange Blossom Hamantaschen

This recipe brings together some Middle Eastern flavors for an out-of-the-box Hamantaschen recipe. Hamantaschen are typically filled with fruit jam or preserves. But this version is loaded with a coarsely ground, aromatic walnut, and orange blossom mixture.

“The Jewish holiday of Purim commemorates the win of good versus evil through the hidden hand of God,” explain sisters Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox. 

The pair adds: “The symbolism of why we eat hamantaschen is not quite clear, some say it refers to the weakening (tash) of our enemies, some say it refers to the triangular hat that Haman wore, and others talk about the shape of Haman’s ears.”

For the sisters, this recipe brings back memories of growing up in Spain and celebrating Purim each year.

“Our fondest memories of Purim go back to Barcelona, the city where we grew up,” they note. “Every year we attended a fun Purim carnival where we dressed up in costumes and participated in a play. Moms would bring their homemade hamantaschen for all to enjoy, which made Purim extra special.

Get the recipe here.