Trivia: Which Jewish holiday features round challah, apples with agave nectar, potato latkes, soofganiyot, charoset, karpas with salt-water, Israeli salad, hummus, kasha varnishkes, Manischewitz wine, Dr. Brown's soda, and grape juice? Rosh Hashanah heebnvegan-style, of course!
There's no reason why most traditional Jewish foods can't be made vegan (and still be delicious!). That was the thinking behind the Vegan Jewish-Foods Mega-Potluck that I organized last year, and last week's sequel set a new standard for Jewtasticness. Thanks to resources like JewishVeg.com's recipes page, it's quite easy for even mediocre cooks to whip up traditional Jewish foods that are 100% vegan and 100% yummy. (Vegetable broth was a great substitute for chicken broth for the kasha varnishkes, the potato latkes tasted great without eggs, agave nectar was just as sweet as honey, and some of the other dishes are usually vegan to begin with.) And as a recent Santa Fe New Mexican article discusses, vegetarian Rosh Hashanah celebrations aren't so rare these days.
The potluck drew an eclectic mix not only of food but of people as well. There was a quarter-Jew who just started college locally and had never been to a Jewish holiday celebration before; he felt that good food was a fantastic introduction to Judaism! There was a 2-toothed, 6-month-old baby whose parents gave her apples (albeit not the large slices that everyone else had) as her first solid food in honor of Rosh Hashanah. There were a few herbivorous heebs who have attended my unconventional Chanukah, Passover, and Tu B'Shvat celebrations in the past. And then there was my mother, who made the charoset and, without giving it much thought, packed a food chopper in her airplane carry-on luggage (thankfully, it wasn't detected!).
The gathering also featured a special guest appearance by my shrilling rubber chicken. The rubber chicken shrilled in dismay at the mere mention of upcoming kapparot ceremonies. And the rubber chicken (and the success of the vegan Rosh Hashanah dinner) got me thinking: The myth that Jewish cooking requires chicken fat or eggs must've been started by a chicken farmer.