When we think of international food that is easily veganized, Mexican cuisine is probably not the first thing to come to mind. Meat, cheese, lard, and sour cream are all staples of traditional fare. While Taco Bell recently made it easier than ever for customers to order plant-based meals from their menu by offering a handy online guide, the chain is far from what most would consider authentic. Well, if you live in Dallas, Texas, you can now have traditional Mexican dishes and pastries that are meat- and dairy-free! El Palote, a Dallas-based Mexican restaurant that opened its doors nearly one year ago, has done away with meat and dairy and now offers a completely plant-based menu.
Restaurant owners Lily and Aurelio Arias originally offered both vegan and non-vegan menus for their menus but has now decided to phase out the non-vegan entirely. How did it all start? Nine years ago, Aurelio made the switch to a plant-based diet after he suffered a heart attack that nearly killed him.
According to Dallas News, he “found an old book his wife had bought from kids who were selling them for a fundraiser. The book’s first chapter talked about the harmful effects of an animal-product-based diet.” With this in mind, he knew something needed to change. Indeed, diets that are heavy in animal proteins are also much higher in saturated fats and cholesterol — both compounds that contribute to cardiovascular disease. Lily started making vegan versions of enchiladas, flautas, tortas, and tamales after the traumatic event. Within days, Aurelio was feeling better, which we guess he attributed to his new diet because he’s been vegan ever since. According to Lily in a
Lily explained to Dallas News, “I became vegan out of love for him.” It was also the couple’s love for their customers that motivated them to switch to a completely plant-based menu. Lily said they told their customers “we love you as clients, but we want to take care of you,’ I tell them. ‘And that [non-vegan] food is not good for your health.'”
If we look at the fact that one-third of Americans consider themselves “flexitarians” and consciously choose to leave meat and dairy off their plates – largely for health reasons, in addition to concerns over animal welfare and environmental impact – it’s no longer so far-fetched that a restaurant can make this kind of switch and end up being incredibly successful. In fact, we’ve seen a wave of restaurants across the U.S. adopt plant-based menus and options to keep up with this burgeoning trend. Aurelio and Lily have already surprised their customer base with just how good the vegan versions of their Mexican food is – and everyone is coming back for more! It’s stories like these that show the power of our food choices and truly illustrate the point that the future of food is here, and it’s vegan!
Lead image source: El Palote Panaderia/Facebook