Delicious vegan and vegetarian food await you in Jalisco, Mexico!
There are many who believe that the Mexican diet consists primarily of meat, beans, cheese, and other heavy ingredients. However, this is not necessarily so. In fact, while traveling through the beautiful state of Jalisco, we found vegan and vegetarian delicacies, even in the smallest communities!
We were surprised to find how fresh and flavorful everything tasted. By talking to friends who live in the area, we discovered that this is because much of the food here is locally sourced. So, there are no antibiotics, steroids, GMOs, and other chemicals that are associated with commercial farming.
Jalisco is a state in Mexico that includes a large portion of the country. Its capital is Guadalajara and it also includes several smaller towns such as Tequila, Cocula, Magdalena, and Teuchitlan. This area is rich in both Mexican history and culture. We traveled through Guadalajara and down through what is called the “Tequila Express”. This is an area that runs from the state’s capital to the tiny town of Tequila.
What initially surprised me the most was the lack of commercial food. In fact, its absence was distinctly noticeable. Small corner shops had eggs stacked in the corner, fresh from a local farmer. They were smaller than eggs that you would find in the States. Also, the shells were different colors. When you cracked them open, the yolks were bright orange and shiny. These eggs were not perfect, which to us was a good thing. They had bits of debris on the outside and were not refrigerated. These eggs were about as close as you could get to eggs that you raised yourself!
The cheese that we tasted, usually a mild queso blanco, was made locally. As we drove the 1.5 hours from Guadalajara to Tequila, we saw cows roaming happily in fields. Our friend, Manuel, who lives in this area, said, “I love my country. I love the food because everything is fresh.”
Indeed, Manuel spoke the truth. At the end of our first day, we stopped in a corner store and in it we found homemade cheese cake sitting on the counter that someone’s mother had made. We also found homemade flan, cheese, local eggs, homemade salsa, and fresh tortillas — the perfect ingredients for breakfast the next day!
Everything seemed locally harvested. The next night we walked to a nearby restaurant. I immediately noticed how fresh my pasta dish tasted. When I quizzed the waiter, he told me that nothing comes out of a can on the entire menu and the pasta was homemade, as was the pesto. In fact, the chef ground the pesto by hand with a mortar and pestle!
Tequila, Mexico is a tiny town made famous by Jose Cuervo. Joso Cuervo is the best-selling tequila in the world and also has the oldest distillery in Latin America. Here, we ate at the Cholula Restaurant after we toured the Cuervo property. I was surprised to find they offered enchiladas mole without meat. In fact, you could order any enchiladas with potato inside rather than chicken or beef. Also, we had a side of the best guacamole we’ve ever tasted!
Even in the local neighborhoods there were vegan and vegetarian options. At Mr. Paco’s, a well-known taco chain, we had fresh tortillas stuffed with potato and topped with fresh cabbage. Condiments included pickled jalapenos and radishes that were mild and flavorful. And, as always, there was a spicy sauce to top everything with. Each area is proud to offer a regional sauce that is known to their section of the state.
In addition, we had cream sauces made from almonds rather than dairy to top stuffed peppers! These were spicy and full of flavor. They were drizzled with pomegranate seeds for a festive touch.
If you are vegan because you are concerned with animal cruelty in the commercial meat industry, you might even decide to eat dairy here. We opted to eat the cheese, dairy, and eggs while in Jalisco because there was no commercial farming that we could see. We saw small farms along the road where animals roamed freely, even the chickens! All of the dairy products we ate were homemade.
What a wonderful place Jalisco is for food! Organic, non-GMO and fresh food that is sourced locally from farmers, what more could you ask for? And with the people of Jalisco being so friendly and kind, we would love the opportunity to come back to this wonderful part of the world again.
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