This Passover, Build a Vegan Seder Plate
Passover, which marks the end of slavery for Jews in Egypt, is an important Jewish holiday that is rich with symbolism and tradition. But it’s 2017, you guys! If your family is up for a little adjusting for the times (or if you have a vegan on your Seder guest list), you might be interested in this take on the Seder plate.
The traditional way: This is the bitter herb, which reminds the Jews of the bitterness of the slavery their forefathers endured in Egypt. It’s usually represented on Seder plates with horseradish (either a full piece or a spoonful of the jarred stuff).
The updated way: Use some cilantro. It’s bitter and can be very polarizing. The ancient rabbis actually note in the Mishnah (a collection of rabbinic traditions) that cilantro is one of the appropriate bitter herbs for Passover.
The traditional way: Usually a roasted lamb shank bone, the z’roa is just for show to represent the lamb that was sacrificed the night the Jews left Egypt.
The updated way: Although the shank bone isn’t actually eaten, it doesn’t have a place at the modern, vegan table. Instead, substitute a roasted beet (whole or cut up).
The traditional way: The charoset is meant to resemble the mortar and brick made by the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt under Pharaoh. Some communities of Ashkenazi Jews make it with apples, walnuts, and wine. Sephardic Jews often use figs and dates, which are more common than apples.
The updated way: Some people like to sweeten their charoset with honey instead of sugar. To make it vegan, simply use agave syrup as your sweetener.
Get the recipe: Charoset
The traditional way: This is a second bitter item, which is sometimes left off the Seder plate entirely. Many people use romaine lettuce to symbolize the fact that the Jewish stay in Egypt began soft and ended hard and bitter (look at the two ends of a piece of lettuce).
The updated way: Use endives, which still have the same effect and certainly seem to be having a moment.
The traditional way: Typically represented with parsley (although some families use boiled potatoes), the karpas is a symbol of spring and new beginnings. It can also symbolize the initial flourishing of the Israelites during the first years in Egypt.
The updated way: Kale! You can’t have a modern-day anything and not include kale.
The traditional way: There are many different explanations for why a roasted hard-boiled egg sits on the Seder plate. Some families say it represents the pre-holiday offering. It’s also said the roundness of the egg represents the cycle of life. And other people say it represents new beginnings and hope.
The updated way: An avocado pit is vegan-approved and can still represent all the things that an egg does. You can also use a white eggplant (we just couldn’t find one in time for our photoshoot!), a wooden egg, or seeds.
Buy: Seder Plate Set, $99.95 at Williams Sonoma
Note: We are obsessed with this seder plate, however we noticed one small typo on it, which our Rabbi confirmed. The english translations for the two bitter items — the maror and chazeret — are technically juxtaposed. But if you’re going to update the items on your plate anyway, it might not matter too much to you.
See 3 Other Takes on the Passover Seder Plate
Editorial consultant: Rabbi Josh Franklin of Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, Massachusetts