On June 19, 1865, the news of emancipation finally reached enslaved African Americans in Texas, marking the “official” end of chattel slavery in the United States.
Whether it’s your first time celebrating Freedom Day or you’re a veteran, one of the best ways to celebrate this day of remembering our ancestors who suffered and died building America is by feeding our souls with some good cooking—and that means keeping it vegan.
Need some help preparing? Here are some mouthwatering vegan recipes for your best Juneteenth celebration yet:
Vegan File Okra Gumbo
As Chopped champion and renowned Creole chef Kenneth Temple states, “A vegan gumbo is probably how the first gumbo was prepared.” In his Vegan File Okra Gumbo recipe, he shows that we can use the flavors our ancestors did without killing and eating animals.
Strawberry Sweet Iced Tea
Some red-colored drinks have a long history rooted in the African diaspora. Red kola nuts and bissap (aka “hibiscus tea”) found their way to America via the Transatlantic slave trade. The kola nut would be ground up and mixed with water for a refreshing beverage.
To many, red symbolizes the blood of millions of enslaved Africans, and in West Africa, the color represents many things such as strength and spirituality. The origins of and traditions around red drinks have a rich history that began in the African diaspora, so you definitely should include a red drink in your Juneteenth celebration.
Keep it sweet, cool, and tasty with this Southern Strawberry Sweet Iced Tea recipe from Monique of Divas Can Cook.
Vegan Mac and Cheese
The ultimate comfort food but without the cruel and unnecessary milk or cheese. Andrew and Larisha of Make It Dairy Free prove that the perfect mac and cheese doesn’t require abused cows and stolen calves.
Pomegranate-Peach Barbeque Sauce
Barbecued anything is the heart and soul of any cookout. Chef Bryant Terry, author of Afro-Vegan, is one of the best when it comes to barbecuing. Whether you’re cooking tofu kebabs, Beyond Sausage brats, seitan ribs, or vegan wings, pair your dish with Bryant’s extraordinary Pomegranate-Peach Barbeque Sauce.
‘Karma’ Cauliflower Curry
Yes, Juneteenth in an American holiday, but it’s also a time to reflect on the history of the entire African diaspora. And on that note, have you ever wondered how curry became so common in Caribbean cuisine?
“Curry seasoning harkens back to the days in Jamaica shortly after Emancipation,” said Marwin Brown of Food Fidelity. “[P]lantation owners resorted to bringing in indentured servants and immigrants from countries like India. Indians introduced curry to Jamaican which is how we get staple curry dishes.”
Marwin’s Caribbean Cauliflower Curry recipe perfectly salutes this historical mixing of cultures and traditions.
Vegan Pecan Pie
Juneteenth’s historic connection to Texas means y’all got to come correct with the pecan pie. This recipe from Claryn of Hell Yeah It’s Vegan! does just that. Confession: This is the only pie I know how to make—but my friends and family seem to be more than OK with that.
Cajun Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans and Rice Bowl
Black people, I know we use yams and sweet potatoes interchangeably, but let me kick a little knowledge real quick: Sweet potatoes come from the Americas—but their familiar taste and texture took to the heart and stomachs of enslaved Africans, who were reminded of yams from their homeland.
With that in mind, let’s recognize the long history of versatile sweet potatoes this Juneteenth with this Cajun Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans Rice Bowl recipe from Make It Dairy Free.
Vegan Chicken and Waffles
If you’re into phenomenal vegan soul food recipes, Jenné Claiborne’s Sweet Potato Soul cookbook should already be in your kitchen. While this popular Vegan Chicken and Waffles recipe isn’t included in her book, it’s a great introduction to all the delicious recipes she has offers.
Southern Collard Greens
Keep the scent of soul food wafting through your kitchen with this classic collard greens recipe from LaTra Guerra. Feel free to substitute some of your collards with mustard greens if you’d like. This recipe gets its flavor from liquid smoke, keeping fun-loving, gentle pigs out of the pot.
Jessica Hylton of Jessica in the Kitchen offers this beautiful, simple take on a classic soul food side dish.
Need more ideas? Here’s a list of recipes that would be great for your Juneteenth celebration:
Appetizers and Sides
For more vegan recipes, shopping tips, and more, order a FREE vegan starter kit from PETA today.