Melanie is an avid vegan homemaker who has been enjoying cooking and experimenting in the kitchen for over 15 years.
Vegan-Inspired Religious Observance
To mark the beginning of Passover, we read from the Haggadah, enjoy the story of the Exodus, and consume wine along with the traditional elements of the Seder meal. Enjoying a Seder plate is an important part of most Passover celebrations and something many of us look forward to fondly each year. In the modern day, however, many of us adhere to certain diets that prevent us from consuming some of the traditional Seder foods. As a vegan cook and homemaker, I've decided to put together this guide to help other vegans enjoy a traditional Seder plate sans animal products. I've also included a bit of Passover history, some Messianic Haggadah recommendations, and a few awesome vegan Passover recipes.
In This Article
- The Traditional Seder Plate
- The Vegan Seder Plate
- Messianic Haggadah Recommendations
- The Biblical History of Passover
- My Favorite Vegan Passover Recipes
- Making Passover Personal
The Traditional Seder Plate
- Beitzah: A hard-boiled egg
- Maror: Typically horseradish
- Chazeret: Typically romaine lettuce leaves
- Charoset: An apple, nut, and wine mixture
- Karpas: Typically parsley (any vegetable works—some use an onion or a boiled potato)
- Zeroah: A lamb shank bone
The Meaning of Each Item
- Beitzah: The general consensus is that the beitzah, or egg, is representative of the sacrifices that would take place before the Temple was destroyed (2 Kings 25:8–17). However, there are others who say that the egg represents the mourning of the destruction of the Holy Temple.
- Maror: The maror is the first bitter herb. The pungency of horseradish can bring a person to tears. The reason for its use in this context is to remind us of the tears shed while we suffered under slavery in Egypt.
- Chazeret: The chazeret is the second bitter herb. While it is optional to use both bitter herbs, I personally like to do so. The purpose of the bitter herbs is to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. To me, I think that having both allows the idea to sink in that we were once slaves, but Yeshua (our Passover lamb) came as the final perfect sacrifice to free us from bondage.
- Charoset: The charoset is used to represent the bricks and mortar that Jewish slaves labored over in order to construct buildings for the Pharaoh. The name "charoset" actually comes from the Hebrew word cheres, meaning clay.
- Karpas: There are two meanings associated with the karpas. The first is that it represents the new birth of spring. The other takes us back to the end of Genesis, where Joseph was second-in-command in Egypt. Joseph moved his family to Egypt with the blessing of the Pharaoh who ruled at that time. His family flourished there, but the old Pharaoh who exalted Joseph passed away. Under the rule of the new Pharoah, the Israelites became enslaved. Even as slaves, they continued to reproduce, thus causing the Pharaoh to fear them for their large numbers and order that all their first-born males be killed. For this reason, the karpas (signifying new birth) is dipped in saltwater as a representation of the tears shed for the loss of their children.
- Zeroah: The zeroah, or shank bone, serves as a visual reminder of the special Passover sacrifices that were made when the Temple stood in Jerusalem.
The Vegan Seder Plate
While some of the items that comprise the traditional Seder plate are already vegan, others are not. In the list below, the already-vegan items have been left alone, but the animal products have been replaced with vegan substitutes.
- Beitzah: A boiled potato
- Maror: Horseradish
- Chazeret: Romaine lettuce
- Charoset: An apple, nut, and wine mixture
- Karpas: Parsley
- Zeroah: A roasted beet
The Messianic Haggadah (With Recommendations)
The Haggadah is a small booklet that is used to guide us through the processes of Passover. It helps us understand why we celebrate it and explains the meaning of all of the elements. It contains biblical readings on the story of Passover and why it is celebrated, and it is also used to guide participants through the Seder meal. Each element of the Seder is described and accompanied by biblical references and recitations. It tells us when to drink each glass of wine, and it also includes many readings along with recitations, prayers, praises to God, and—of course—the traditional song, "Dayenu."
When searching online, it's important to look for a "Messianic Haggadah" because the Jewish versions do not include Yeshua as part of the celebration. Much of the joy and meaning is lost in those versions because the Lamb of God, Yeshua, is not recognized as being the ultimate Passover sacrifice. Here are a couple of good options to choose from for your Passover celebration:
The Biblical History of Passover
We see the story of the first Passover in Exodus 12, as it is the final plague that comes upon the Egyptians. However, the story begins way back at the end of Genesis with Jacob. Allow me to give as quick of a synopsis as possible.
Jacob, whom the Lord had renamed Israel, had twelve sons, eleven of whom despised their twelfth brother Joseph because of his gift of dreams. Joseph told his brothers that he had dreams in which they all bowed down to him, and this angered them to the point where they wanted to kill him. Joseph's brother Reuben interceded for him, so instead Joseph was sold to Midianite merchants who in turn sold him to Potiphar, one of the Pharaoh's officials. Potiphar entrusted everything he had to Joseph because he saw that the Lord was with him. However, Joseph was thrown into prison because Potiphar's wife lied and said that he tried to rape her.
Joseph was eventually taken out of prison by the Pharaoh. No one could interpret the Pharaoh's dreams, and he had heard that Joseph had a unique ability of interpretation. Joseph did interpret the Pharaoh's dreams correctly, and he made him aware of the fact that there was going to be a seven-year famine in the land after seven good years. Because of his extreme gratitude, the Pharaoh put Joseph as second-in-command of all of Egypt.
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During the famine, Joseph's brothers came to Egypt seeking food and found that Joseph was in charge of all the land. When Joseph saw his family, he was overcome with joy, and because of the favor he had found with the Pharaoh, he was able to move his family to Egypt. There they flourished until the day Joseph died, and a new Pharaoh who did not know about Joseph was named.
At that time, the Israelites were great in number, and this brought fear into the heart of the Pharaoh. As a result, he ordered every newborn Israelite baby boy to be thrown into the Nile. This is where the story of Moses begins. Moses was a man who escaped death because his mother floated him down the Nile in a basket when he was a newborn. Downriver, he eventually met his new Egyptian mother—the Pharaoh's daughter.
Though his roots were Hebrew, Moses was raised as an Egyptian and was used by God to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Moses confronted the Pharaoh by God's command so that the Israelites could worship God in the desert. The Pharaoh refused, thus bringing upon himself and his people each of God's ten plagues.
God's Ten Plagues
- Death of the Firstborn
The death of the firstborn begins the story of Passover. God commanded the Israelites to slaughter lambs and put their blood on their doorposts. This was so that when God saw the blood on the doorpost, He would pass over their houses, and no destruction would come to them. In this same commandment, God ordered His people to eat the meat along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. This ties into the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which begins the day after Passover. If you'd like to read more on this, Passover is also described in the Bible.
Bible Passages That Discuss Passover
- Exodus 23:10–19
- Leviticus 23:4–8 (describes all feasts)
- Numbers 9:1–14
- Deuteronomy 16:1–8
- Joshua 5:10 (describes the first Passover in the Promised Land)
- 2 Chronicles 30
My Favorite Vegan Passover Recipes
Below, I've listed some of my favorite vegan Passover recipes from around the web. I love preparing these dishes for family during Passover, and I hope you enjoy them too.
Vegan Matzo Ball Soup
This is the number one dish I look forward to indulging in during Passover. I mean, who doesn't love a good matzo ball soup? This recipe has so much flavor, and I absolutely love using chickpea flour for the matzo balls because it adds such a great flavor that you just can't get from anything else. This dish is truly one of a kind.
Cranberry Quinoa-Stuffed Zucchini
Before making this dish, I had never stuffed zucchini, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. For my friends who want to eat solely plant-based, there is vegan cream cheese in this recipe. Though I have not tried this, you could attempt to make a cream cheese just like how you would make a cashew cream—just use half or 3/4ths of the water when blending it.
Easy Sautéed Kale With Walnut Parmesan
Personally, I think kale needs to be part of every dinner, whether it's a celebration or not. Kale is such a luxurious vegetable to me, so I think it should be featured in any feast. This recipe is super simple and definitely a crowd-pleaser.
I don't often eat grains (especially rice), but I feel that special occasions like this call for something a little extra. This is my go-to rice dish—it's easy to make with plenty of gusto, and flavor-wise, it fits with the other dishes on my Passover table.
My favorite thing to serve alongside all these great recipes is a simple oven-roasted veggie dish. They're the perfect accompaniment and oh-so-delicious, even all on their own. It's so wonderful to have the simple earthy flavors of all the vegetables that God has provided for us to enjoy. My favorites include:
- Squash (any kind works, but I love kabocha)
- Tri-color carrots
- Brussels sprouts
Making It Personal
Though strongly rooted in tradition, Passover is meant to be a personal experience. This is a time when we turn a new leaf, rid ourselves of our sin, and move forward in faith, knowing that Yeshua was sacrificed as the perfect Passover lamb. This is a time of joy and renewal, and as such, I personally think that it's imperative we celebrate it from the heart—not just because we have to.
Of course, rituals play into this occasion a great deal, but we should still make it our own. Decorate your home and get it 100% cleaned out as if preparing for it for the Lord. Prepare food that honors the Lord and play music that brings you closer to Him. Write your very own Haggadah and establish traditions with your family that you feel are most honoring to God and come truly from your heart.
This is a time of great repentance but also great joy, so make sure that you open your heart fully to the Father. He created you uniquely, so honor Him uniquely—He loves you. I wish you all a wonderful Passover. Blessings and Shalom!
- Chabad—Kitniyot on Passover: Is It Allowed?
- Chabad—The Meaning Behind the Karpas Vegetable
- Church of the Great God
- Hebrew for Christians
- My Jewish Learning—Passover from the Bible to the Temples
- My Jewish Learning—The Seder Plate
- Reform Judaism
- The Vegan Atlas
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Melanie
Kimberly on April 08, 2020:
Thanks for sharing this article. I really had no idea what Passover was until I read this. I really enjoyed the Seder Plate image, for it broke every part down really nicely!