Finding a bean burrito while eating out or traveling is one of the easiest plant-based fast food finds. Of course, that bean burrito must be ordered without cheese and sour cream, and you might need to check the burrito wrap ingredients online prior to ordering. But most of the toppings — salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and even guacamole dips — are vegan.
When you’re not eating out, preparing vegan tacos at home is just as easy, and homemade tacos are where you can really use your creativity!
Here are five simple tips on how to veganize tacos.
1. Ditch the taco meat: Replace it with beans or packaged soy crumbles (available in the frozen food section of most grocery stores). If you buy the soy option, you’ll want to make your own taco seasoning to fry the soy product in. Taco seasoning packets can be purchased pre-made, but, surprisingly, some contain animal products. For your own seasoning, throw together equal parts of chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and crushed red pepper (or adjust amounts based on your own preferences).
For beans, there’s a variety of options ranging from refried beans to black and pinto beans. If you’re opting for refried, be sure to read the ingredients to check for animal lard. Yup, it will actually say “lard” in the ingredient list — pretty gross! Black beans and pinto beans are usually safe. To prepare, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, throw in the beans and cook until they are hot.
2. Find taco shells that also do not contain lard. Many soft shell brands will contain animal fat that will either be listed as mono- and di-glyerides, glycerin or lard. The hard shell brands are often vegan, but check ingredients just to ensure those three ingredients aren’t in the hard shells too. If you’re looking for something healthier, try to find shells that do not contain hydrogenated oils.
3. Most taco toppings naturally are vegan. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, jalapenos, and peppers are all vegan! Want to spice it up a little? Try adding shredded vegan cheese. Daiya and Go Veggie! are two good brand that sell vegan cheese shreds. These can be found at Whole Foods or a local organic health store. Vegan sour cream brands are also available at health stores if you enjoy sour cream on tacos.
4. Make your own guacamole: It seems obvious that guacamole would be vegan. But, be careful. Many pre-made guacamole containers or mixes are not vegan. They contain, of all things, sour cream. Luckily, guacamole is very easy to make at home, and it tastes much better without sour cream fillers. Make it with mashed avocados, sea salt, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, minced red onion, and lime juice. Mix it all together either by hand or in a food processor, and you’ll have fresh guacamole!
5. Pick your favorite hot sauce: Whether your idea of a Mexican sauce is mild salsa or never-feel-your-taste-buds-again fire hot, veganizing your favorite sauce won’t be hard because it probably already is free of animal products. In my 15 years of eating vegan, I have never come across a non-vegan taco sauce.
Want Taco Recipes? Try out 5 Delicious and Surprisingly Meatless Recipes for Taco Tuesday!