Shavuot, the Jewish Spring Harvest Festival, centers around many deep-rooted Jewish customs such as all night learning, Tikkun Leil Shavuot. This kabbalistic tradition aims to correct the faults of our ancestors, who were unprepared to receive the Torah, by demonstrating that we are eager and ready to accept the word of G-d. While this practice takes on popular themes in Jewish tradition like memory and absolution–or perhaps “Jewish guilt” is a more fitting description here–Shavuot would not be a Jewish holiday without special gastronomic observances.
To uphold this festival, many Jews eat dairy filled foods, such as cheesecake and blintzes. While the origins of the tradition are disputed, many believe that it reflects the innocence of the Israelites before coming onto the laws of G-d, as consuming milk likens the Israelites to babies. Another explanation accounts for the fact that upon receiving the Torah, the Israelites were at once subject to its laws, including the Jewish dietary laws of Kashrut. Kashrut demands time consuming meat preparation, making the Israelites turn to dairy as their celebratory meal.
No matter the reason behind this tradition, many Jewish vegans feel left out on this dairy-filled day of rejoice. So, in order to upkeep tradition (and an animal and environmentally friendly diet!), I have compiled a list of vegan alternatives for Shavuot favorites:
1. Tofutti: Tofutti was a vegan brand favorite before people even knew what veganism was. Tofutti was founded in 1981 in order to service Kosher diners with pareve desserts and cheeses. Since then, Tofutti has made the day of many dairy-free customers with delights such as these ice cream sandwiches.
They also offer blintzes, a Jewish specialty:
2. Oatly: This one is a double whammy! Oatly is made out of oats…an added bonus to celebrate the grain harvest.
3. Daiya New York Style Cheesecake
And of course, what’s Shavuot without cheesecake? Check out Daiya Foods for a plethora of dairy free options including pizzas, cheeses, and more!
With these yummy vegan alternatives you don’t need to sacrifice taste or empty your wallet in order to keep up with Jewish custom. Chag Sameach!
Wishing you a very happy and delicious Shavuot from the Ha’Am Team!