Plant-based Latina Chefs Who Don’t Neglect Latin Flavors in Their Dishes

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For many , the idea of going vegan warrants a gasp. There is a common belief that several Latin American dishes must include meat or other animal products. “How can you have carne asada without meat?” some might ask. “How can you have tequeños without cheese?”

Though essential to many of these dishes are meat, cheese, and other animal products, this does not mean that those ingredients define them. Bringing the flavors of classic Latin American dishes to veganism is a craft and an art. 

The chefs below are the epitome of bringing together plant-based techniques and Latin-fusion flavors and ingredients. If you’re looking to explore new dishes or add more veggies and fruits to your diet, check out their recipes!

DENISE VALLEJO

My food became a reflection of the empowerment I began to feel as I reconnected to my indigenous heritage,” Vallejo told Shoutout LA. She grew up in California, where she learned all about Mexican food. Now, Vallejo replicates those flavors with all plant-based ingredients that have always been part of indigenous cuisine, such as corn, beans, nopales, chiles, quelites, herbs, spirulina, chia, amaranth, and cacao. As an occultist, she also incorporates astrology, curanderismo, alchemy, and shamanism into her craft.

JASMINE HERNÁNDEZ

The concept of Chicana Vegana came from Hernández reimagining the foods that she craved once she became vegan. After turning to a plant-based diet herself, she started this business as a pop-up tent and quickly developed it into a food truck. Most recently, Hernández moved Chicana Vegana to a permanent location in Fullerton. She makes food with “zero animals, zero cholesterol, and 100% love.”

WENDY GARCÍA

García grew up in a small town in Mexico, surrounded by food. Her father was a chef, farmer, and hunter. At 17 years old, she left her farm in Hermosillo, Mexico, and migrated to Tucson, Arizona. She began her journey in the industry as a dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, and head cook. Eventually, she opened her own restaurant, Tumerico, which has gone from a health-focused caterer to a farmers market stand, to a food cart, to now a brick and mortar business. Her scratch-made vegetarian tacos, tamales, and enchiladas rapidly became a Tucson hit!

CECILIA FLORES

Flores is an Afro-Latina chef and entrepreneur who is creating traditional Dominican flavors out of plant-based ingredients. She opened up Coco Verde Vegan in Massachusetts alongside her husband, Ivannoe Rodriguez. They are both passionate about “food, welfare, and social justice.” Flores and Rodriguez’s biggest push to a plant-based diet has been the health of their daughter, Ivanna. In order to offer Latino vegan food, they have been experimenting with the kind of dishes they grew up eating as Dominicans.

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