Mexican street foods are fast, cheap, fresh and packed with flavor! You could easily spend weeks exploring the different regions of Mexico and their specialties and never get to try it all. Plus, why sit down at a restaurant when you could be wandering, sightseeing and meeting locals while you feast? Even though Mexico is a meat and diary consuming nation there is still a bunch of traditional delicious street food that are vegan or can easily be veganized. It is a good idea to learn some basic Spanish before you go as many Mexicans either don’t know the concept of veganism or don’t know the difference between vegan and vegetarian. But don’t worry, I have noted some useful phrases that you can use while exploring the tasty and colorful Mexican cuisine! Here is my top picks for Mexican vegan street food munches:
Tamales is a well-known and loved snack all over Latin America. The snack is made out of corn masa which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. Tamales can be filled with meat, cheese, vegetables or beans. These small packages are originated from the pre-hispanic era and are eaten by millions of Latin Americans world wide.
Tamales with herbs and beans
Tamales with different fillings – all vegan!
Ask for a vegan option: tamales con verduras y frijoles sin queso
Tacos is a national eat and what most people associates with Mexican food. You’ll see small taco stands everywhere and often filled with local people munching on a lunch or dinner taco(s). It can be a little tricky finding vegan tacos as the traditional ones are filled with meat, but in the bigger cities such as Merida, Mexico City and Oaxaca it won’t be a problem. Seitan and soy is beginning to be well know through out Mexico, but otherwise you’ll see vegan fillings such as mushrooms, cauliflower, beans, potato and nopales (cactus)! Once you’re clutching your taco(s) of choice, load up on the free condiments – diced onion, coriander (cilantro), salsas – and get munching.
Vegan tacos al pastor at Trigo Verde, Oaxaca City
Ask for vegan option: tacos vegetariano sin queso (vegetarian without cheese)
This Mexican treat is original from the southern state of Oaxaca, but can be found almost all over Mexico. Tlayudas are huge, thin corn crisps spread with either mole or beans and topped with vegetables, meats and sprinkled with cheese and often referred to as the Mexican pizza. There is however a well-known vegetarian option with beans and nopales (prickly pear cactus leaves) that they use often on a tlayuda and it tastes friggin’ good!
Ask for a vegan option: vegetariano sin queso (vegetarian without cheese)
Tlacoyo is an oval-shaped corn pocket filled with cheese or beans and toasted over an open grill. There is different kinds of toppings, depends on region etc. but you’ll get typical a topping consist of salsa verde, chopped nopales (prickly pear cactus), corn and cheese.
Blue corn dough pockets filled with beans
Vegan tlacoyo with spinach and guacamole
Ask for a vegan option: vegetariano con frijoles sin queso! (vegetarian with beans without cheese)
Elotes and Esquites
Two names for the same food in essence, elotes and esquites refer to corn on the cob and sweetcorn respectively. Sold on almost every street corner, Elotes is jammed onto a stick, boiled or grilled over hot coals and then smothered in butter, salt, chilli powder, lime, cheese, mayonnaise and/or crema (sour cream). The Esquites is the sweetcorn shorn from its cob and served in cups, layered with cream, mayo, lime juice and chili. You can however ask for vegan options without butter, cheese, cream or mayo.
One of my favorites: grilled corn cob with lime juice, chili and salt
Ask for vegan option: solo limon, sal y chile! (only with lime, salt and chili)
Fruta con chile e limon
Mexico rocks at all things chilli. So when a street vendor offers you a cup of fresh fruit sprinkled with chili powder and lime, hand over your pesos. Simultaneously sweet, sour and spicy, this ingenious combo fires up all the taste buds. You’ll regularly see carts selling mango, watermelon, pineapple, papaya and coconuts. Sold all over the country, this is perfect on-the-go munch, and as a perfect cooling eat in the hot temperatures.
Mango with mild chili powder – be aware, it can be pretty addictive!
No habla Español? No problemo!
As I mentioned to you before it is a good idea to know some basic Spanish and especially regarding to ordering food and to ensure your food comes out cruelty free:
Yo soy vegana (female) / vegano (male) – I am vegan
Tienes comida vegetariana? – Do you have vegetarian food?
Tienes leche de soya, almendra o coco? – Do you have soy, along or coconut milk? These plant based milk options are very common throughout Mexico and they wont be hard to find in corner stores – OXXO which is the Mexican answer to 7/11 have almond milk!
Sin carne – without meat
Sin leche – without milk
Sin queso – without cheese
Es sin producto animales? – Is it without animal products ?
No come producto animal! – I don’t eat animal products.
And of course you need to say Por favor and Gracias – Please and Thank you
If you have any question or comments regarding my blog post, please feel free to leave a comment below – Hasta luego (see you ;))