Vegetarian Seders From Across the U.S.
The Tampa Tribune ran a great story titled "Vegetarian Jews Improvise on Symbolic Passover Plates." It quotes a local rabbi who isn't vegetarian but who says of Jews who don't use shankbones on the seder plate, "They find some type of a replacement, and that is to be truly respected in our tradition. ... I understand where they are coming from. ... Judaism as a religion respects the sanctity of all human life and all animal life."
On the first seder night, I went to my shul and, after calling in advance to request vegan food, was very accommodated. On the second night, I had a couple of friends over in my apartment for the first seder that I've ever hosted. We read from Roberta Kalechofsky's Haggadah for the Vegetarian Family, used a beet instead of a shankbone, and enjoyed eggless matzoh-ball soup. We also played Yidcore's versions of Ma Nishtana, Dayenu, and Vehi Sheamda.
Lisa from Park Slope, N.Y., writes: i had a veggie seder ... 16 people at my place in park slope-a fairly veggie friendly place tobegin with, but i think only 3 people there were strictly vegetarian. we used a beet for the shankbone and matzah lasagna for the entree. ... it was important to me that it be vegetarian. no one was shocked or upset at the lack of a shankbone. and cookingwas certainly easier and less stress and cheaper.
Abi from San Francisco, Calif., writes: We had a great time at our Lesbian Vegetarian Women's Seder. It was fabulous! We used a feminist hagaddah, a beet for the shankbone, and a plastic egg (instead of the "real" egg). The food was delicious and the company even better. My favorite part was a blessing over the flowers to honor and celebrate the flesh and the sensuality as well as the sprituality of this holiday.
Ilene from Somerville, Mass., writes: We have had a vegan Seder for the last three years. Everyone who attends likes the food, understands the explanations and doesn’t miss the meat. ... For our shank bone we have used a roasted beet for many years (before I was a vegan/vegetarian I didn’t eat mammals so we haven’t had a shank bone ever); however this year I roasted a yam for the “Pascal Yam”. We also have an orange on our Seder plate to honor gays and lesbians within Judaism. This year I served “mock” gefilte fish (mashed potatoes, roasted eggplant, matza meal, sautéed onions, etc.), vegan broth with vegan matza balls, nut loaf, roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, jicama salad with a lemon and sumac dressing. ... We use an old hippie Haggadah from Berkeley CA and this year our Seder was enhanced by Rabbi Nathan Laufer’s book The Passover Journey.
Dan from Oakland, Calif., writes: We had a 100% veg seder at my home. Beingtraditionally observant, my Seder plate had all theusual items including a roasted egg (I have not yetmade the transition to veganism) and a shankbone. Ofcourse, my "z'roah" was the same shankbone I have hadfor 25 years, obtained from back when I ate meat. ... Naturally, not a speck of meatwas served for my sumptuous "Shulchan Aruch" feast. In the final analysis, it was your typical traditionalSeder, just with no meat. The absence of meat wastreated as perfectly normal and was a completenon-issue at my otherwise very traditional Seder.
Michael (who sent in several photos of a room jam-packed full of seder attendees) from Patagonia, Ariz., writes: Historically: Passover, the passing over of those with the mark of sacrifice. Put in words for today, we celebrate the passing over the ego directly to liberation. In liberation, identifying with the consciousness of the soul, the vegan way is so true because it heals the planet.
Sasha from Orange County, Calif., writes: Vegan Pesach 2.0 was seemingly quite a success, with 38 people in attendance, mostly vegan, but with a large increase of the amount of Jewish kids from VP1 .... I created my own HaggZine this year ... with the service in front and a zine in the back including articles about modern day slavery, why the seder can be Halachacly vegan, animal rights, a Pesach word search (hah I dont know why), direct action for liberation of all creatures .... The Menu included 4 gallons of Matzo Ball Soup with at leaat 50 matzo balls that were all devoured, bok choy in chinese black sauce, asparagus and sun dried tomatoes in indonesian white sauce, mushroom zucchini kugelach, a sweet potato kugel, eggplant farfel casserole, mushroom potato croquettes, macaroons and chocolate matzo for desert as well as some amazing vegan "rice krispy-type" chocolate peanut butter bars. ... There was a lot of talk about liberations from the past, freedom in general and what needs to be done in order to make it possible for all creatures to live free, bringing spirituality into the environmental and animal movments, anarchy and Judaism, and how awesome matzo ball soup is.
Toda rabah, contributors! :-) Seders are inherently great experiences to share with others, and I think that some of the above seder stories are really beautiful. If anyone has any other suggestions for blog posts with contributors' input, fire away with your input!