We have heard many vegans refer to Mexican cuisine as the most vegan-friendly.
But, the question on the tongues of many vegans is: are tortillas vegan? There has never been any straightforward answer to this widespread question.
Trust us when we say, we too have been confused on this topic for some time. In this post, we are going to put our best foot forward and attempt to answer this burning question.
Let's figure this thing out once and for all.
The Fresh Wholeness Of The Mexican Cuisine
Generally, The Mexican cuisine consists mainly of fresh wholesome fruits and vegetables.
Think of it, most Mexican dishes contain avocados, vegetables, beans, rice, and tomatoes. We don't believe any other cuisine places so much emphasis on the richness and wholeness of food.
Take, for example, the tasty Guacamole. All it contains is.
● Ripe small Avocados
● Lemon, juiced
● Large clove garlic, minced
● Jalapeno, seeded & finely chopped
● Small yellow skinned-onion, finely chopped
This dish contains no meat, strictly vegetables and yet everyone loves it. When placed alongside the tortilla, it becomes a very tasty appetizer. There are so many other entirely vegetable dishes everyone loves such at beans and yellow rice.
To find this level of vegan appeal, you need to focus on the heart of Mexican cooking. Mainstream Mexican cooking can be laced with meat and cheese, but at the core, the cuisine is plant-based.
Corn Or Wheat Tortilla?
So many of us have grown to love tortillas. This is perhaps the reason why so many vegans want to know about these two types of tortillas.
First off, we are going to make a very bold statement. You have a much higher chance of landing a vegan tortilla if you eat only corn tortilla. Generally, the much smaller corn tortilla is made entirely of white or yellow corn along with whole-wheat or enriched white flour.
Now with wheat tortillas, there is a slightly higher chance of bumping into an ingredient that may not be vegan-friendly.
For The Love Of The Wheat Tortilla
Prior to the 1990s wheat tortilla almost always contain lard, what some of us may not know is that lard is an animal-derived product. This was used for making the tortilla the way the same or ghee is used in the Indian cuisine to make roti.
The issue with white flour is that it gets dry and stuff stuck together as dough. As such, bakers need to add an agent to soften the final product. Lard is one animal byproduct that does an amazing job of aiding in creating softer flour products.
However, as vegans, you should know that this is an ingredient which is not regularly used across the board. This essentially means that the use of lard in the making of wheat tortillas has also declined since the 1990s. The reason being the growing health concerns surrounding the product.
Lard has been linked to high cholesterol as well as heart diseases among other noncommunicable diseases. Hence, the good news is that many bakers have replaced the use of lard in tortillas with the use of vegetable oil.
Finding Completely Vegan Tortilla
Aside from sticking to mainly corn tortilla, you still need to do your research. The amazing thing about choosing to become vegan is that you get the chance to prove bystanders wrong.
It is a common misconception that switching to veganism means you have to give up your favorite foods. This is not true. There are plenty of alternatives. There are companies who produce strictly vegan tortillas. Just do your research and have a good look around the company website.
As a side note, if you decide to visit Mexico, it will still be important not to assume that home of the tortillas means vegan tortillas.
Though lots of bigger tortilla manufacturers may have switched from lard to vegetable oil when producing tortillas, many smaller and more traditional tortillerias in Mexico and even in the USA may still opt for lard.
Another point to take into consideration is additional animal byproducts. It is important to familiarise yourself with a list of the animal byproducts on the market. Doing this will help you avoid eating animal products without knowing.
So are tortillas vegan? The answer is, 'in a way'.
They are more so vegan-friendly but possibly not flat out vegan since there are variations. You can definitely get your hands on a vegan tortilla, but you have to be informed and careful.