This Vegan Pork Recipe Won Over a Puerto Rican Food Blogger's Entire Meat-Eating Family (2024)

Food is about so much more than nutrition—it’s one of the most personal expressions of our cultures, values, and traditions. Our series, Behind the Recipe, profiles a different healthy cook every month to explore the personal, untold stories of their favorite dishes. This month, Rican Vegan creator Desiree Rodriguez shares how she mastered a vegan pork recipe delicious to win over her entire family—including her grandma.

Growing up in a Puerto Rican family, meat was central to almost all the meals my mom and grandma would cook. Normally, we would have chicken or beef, but if it was a special occasion, there would always be pork—slow-roasted until it's so tender it practically melts on your tongue. When Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around, the holiday meal spread would include both turkey and pork. And on the rare occasions where we chose just one meat, it was always pork.

Experts In This Article

  • Desiree Rodriguez, Desiree Rodriguez is the creator of the vegan Puerto Rican food blog, Rican Vegan.

As much as I loved these traditional family dishes so much, I decided to cut meat out of my life completely in 2013. I was experiencing some minor health issues, including skin rashes. My dermatologist prescribed me a medicine to help with the symptoms, but it still didn't treat the root issue and the rashes kept coming back. I decided to govegan for a short period of time just to see if it made a difference. At the time, I had just watched some documentaries on Netflix that made pressing pause on meat sound like a good idea. So, I decided to give it a try.

I cut out more animal products little by little, and over the following months, I started to feel more energized and my skin rashes went away. Now I won't say that going vegan is right for everyone, but for me personally, it made me feel my best. So, I decided to stick with it.

I'm not going to lie, becoming a vegan was not easy—especially because I love traditional Puerto Rican food so much. In the beginning, all I really ate was salad because I wasn't sure how to make vegan versions of my favorite meals. Unsurprisingly, I grew tired of salads pretty quickly, and that's when I decided that I would try my best to recreate my favorite dishes with a vegan spin. Dairy-free arroz con dulce, mushroom-based ceviche, vegan steak and eggs... Over time, I mastered more and more dishes that I couldn't believe tasted just as delicious without animal products whatsoever. Even my family—none of whom are vegan—thought they tasted incredible. But I still had yet to perfect one of my favorites: pork.

As I mentioned, pork is a "special occasion" food, so getting it right was really important. That's why I decided to try making a vegan version for just myself first—lower stakes. I had heard that jackfruit was a good substitute for pulled meat because of the texture, so I decided to give it a try. I knew the spices would especially be important, so I called my mom and asked her what she used when she made pork dishes. She gave me a short list: garlic, oregano, onion powder, salt, pepper, and adobo.

Armed with my canned jackfruit and spices, I got to work. First, I marinated the jackfruit, giving it plenty of time to really absorb the spices. Then, I cooked it in the oven for about half an hour. When I pulled the tray out of the oven, the aroma filled me with hope—it certainly smelled like pork. And you know what, it really looked like it too! I didn't even wait until it cooled completely before sticking a fork in to give it a try. As I bit into the tender chunks, I was surprised at just how meat-like it tasted. Jackfruit, who knew! It certainly passed my taste test, but what about my family?

This Vegan Pork Recipe Won Over a Puerto Rican Food Blogger's Entire Meat-Eating Family (2)

The next time I made the vegan pork, I had my whole family try it—including my mom and grandma, who are the real cooks in the family. Everyone agreed that it tasted delicious. I started making the vegan pork on holidays, just like when we would have traditional pork when I was growing up, and used any leftovers to make pulled "pork" sandwiches served with rice and beans.

Here's another cool thing about using jackfruit: it takes a lot less time to cook than actual meat. When you're following the recipe at home, be mindful to make sure the jackfruit doesn't dry out too much while cooking in the oven; you may want to check on it a few times throughout the 35 minute cook time to make sure it stays juicy and tender. Other than that, this recipe is truly easy to master.

By the way, because it is so simple to make and certainly more nutrient-packed than pork, there's no need to reserve this dish for special occasions. You can make it whenever the craving hits. And trust me, your whole family will approve—yes, even if they are hardcore meat lovers.

This Vegan Pork Recipe Won Over a Puerto Rican Food Blogger's Entire Meat-Eating Family (3)

Vegan pernil recipe (roasted pork)

Serves 4

2 cans young jackfruit
1 cup vegetable broth
5-6 tsp garlic cloves minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tsp adobo
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1. Drain the jackfruit from the can and rinse the off brine.

2. Place the marinade and jackfruit pieces in a plastic bag and seal the bag.

3. Marinate the jackfruit overnight in the refrigerator.

4. Preheat oven to 400°F.

5. Pour the jackfruit chunks and marinade onto a baking dish.

6. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until fork-tender stirring halfway to prevent the pieces from drying out.

7. Remove from the oven and let it sit for five minutes

8. Serve with your favorite side dish or add it to a sandwich.

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Tags: Eating Vegan, Food and Nutrition, Healthy Recipes for Dinner

This Vegan Pork Recipe Won Over a Puerto Rican Food Blogger's Entire Meat-Eating Family (2024)


What is a good substitute for pork? ›

Whether shiitakes, Portobellos, or creminis, mushrooms come loaded with umami and have a chewy, satisfying texture, making them perfect replacements for meat, especially pork.

What is vegan pork made from? ›

Protein comes from soy and potatoes, flavor comes from heme (the molecule that makes meat taste meaty), coconut and sunflower oils make it sizzle on the griddle, and methylcellulose and food starch (common culinary binders found in sauces, jams and soup) hold it together so you can make anything you want -- lettuce ...

Does vegan pork taste like pork? ›

I break off a chunk to taste it by itself, untainted. It has a chewy consistency and a flavor similar to that of chicken, albeit with more of a savory, smoky essence. "So this is what pork tastes like," I think.

Is there a vegan spam? ›

超乎你的「肉」望。 OmniPork系列全新推出 ― 零殘忍,無負擔的「新餐肉」。 OmniPork Luncheon, made by Hong Kong plant-based meat company OmniFoods, was the first vegan SPAM product in the world when it hit the market in 2020, per VegNews. The ingredients of Omni vegan SPAM include soybeans, beets, wheat, and coconut oil.

What is the best vegan pork alternative? ›

So, you can use seitan, a type of plant-based meat made from vital wheat gluten, for things such as vegan sausages and ribs. Meatier mushrooms like chanterelles, shiitake, or even minced creminis can also stand in for pork in a variety of dishes. Even lentils, when seasoned just right, can replace ground pork.

What is the most unhealthy meat to eat? ›

try to limit processed meat products such as sausages, salami, pâté and beefburgers, because these are generally high in fat – they are often high in salt, too.

What do vegans think of fake meat? ›

As vegans we're very passionate about our ethical beliefs in regards to animals. But consuming meat analogues does not harm animals, nor does it compromise our ethics. And although there may be some uncanny similarities in names, appearances, flavors and textures, there is no cruelty involved.

Why don t vegans eat pork? ›

1–6: Animal Foods

Veganism is a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it for food or any other purpose. For this reason, vegans avoid eating foods of animal origin, such as: Meat: Beef, lamb, pork, veal, horse, organ meat, wild meat, etc.

Can a vegan eat pork? ›

Vegans don't eat any foods made from animals, including: Beef, pork, lamb, and other red meat. Chicken, duck, and other poultry.

Why can't Muslims eat pork? ›

In Abrahamic religions, eating pig flesh is clearly forbidden by Jewish (kashrut), Islamic (halal) and Adventist (kosher animals) dietary laws. The pig is considered an unclean animal as food in Judaism and Islam, and parts of Christianity.

Can Muslims eat impossible meat? ›

Impossible™ Beef,* Impossible Sausage Links, and Impossible Ground Sausage are Halal certified by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA). Impossible™ Beef,* Impossible Sausage Links, and Impossible Ground Sausage are Kosher certified by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU).

Can Muslims eat vegan pork? ›

There is now a vegan product designed to taste like pork, a food that has always been strictly forbidden by Jewish and Islamic law.

How do you mimic pork flavor? ›

For a smoky ham or bacon flavor, there is a liquid hickory smoke flavoring, or a smoked paprika. For a more general kind of meaty taste that can imitate chicken or pork, I like nutritional yeast flakes. Soy sauce and miso can help make something salty and a bit meaty. Mushrooms can also help with the meaty aftertaste.

What vegetables are good to replace pork with? ›

  • Tofu. Starting the list is probably the most widely known meat substitute, and a staple of any vegan or vegetarian diet - tofu. ...
  • Tempeh. A close relative of tofu, but less well-known, is tempeh. ...
  • Seitan. Serve up some seitan in a stew and no one will know it's actually meat-free. ...
  • Jackfruit. ...
  • Banana blossom.
Dec 12, 2022

What can Muslims eat instead of pork? ›

You cannot serve any meat that is not slaughtered according to Muslim (halal) rites. So if you want to serve beef or mutton or chicken, make sure that it is either halal or kosher. Eggs, fish and other sea food are not a problem. No pork, ham, bacon, lard or anything else that comes from swine.

What is a good alternative to beef and pork? ›

Some might think plant based meat lacks nutritional value, but that's far from true. Most plant based meat ingredients are high protein vegetables like soybeans, lentils, quinoa, seitan, and peas. Plant based meat is a common healthier alternative to red meat.

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