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A lot of people think traditional Mexican food is all about pork, lard, beef, and cheese. But that’s not what comes to mind for Jocelyn Ramirez, author of La Vida Verde: Plant-Based Mexican Cooking with Authentic Flavor. “Many of our ancestral dishes centered around a plant-forward diet,” writer Ramirez in the book’s introduction.

The book will also show you how to make a plant-based chorizo and several non-dairy cheeses. But La Vida Verde isn’t just about impressive swaps for animal products. It celebrates the full diversity of Mexican recipes that have always been vegan: guacamole, a range of vibrant salsas, and the agua frescas for which Ramirez was first known. “I believe that plant-based Mexican food is both the past and future of Mexican food culture,” she writes.

Review by Joy Manning

A must-have for making homemade tortillas and tamales. Try:

  • Handmade Tortillas, p. 98
  • Bean and Cheese Gorditas, p. 17
  • Black Tamales with Jackfruit in Red Chile, p. 73

Hominy is a nixtamalized corn that is eaten whole (often in pozole) or ground into flour (masa harina). Try:

  • Green Pozole & Mushrooms, p. 43
  • Red Pozole with Jackfruit and Yellow Corn, p. 45

Celebrated purveyor Rancho Gordo has led the heirloom bean revival. This is a popular variety. Try:

  • Frijoles Negros, p. 97
  • Jackfruit in Green Chile Tostadas, p. 69


Chiles are at the heart of Mexican cuisine. Heat levels vary: Ancho (dried poblano) are mild, Guajillo are medium hot, and Arbol are spicy. Try:

  • Tortilla Soup with Cream, p. 50
  • Enmoladas & Mole Colorado, p. 57
  • Chorizo Tacos, p. 75

Jackfruit’s neutral flavor and shreddable texture make for a versatile vegetarian pantry staple. Try:

  • Chipotle “Tuna” Salad, p. 40
  • Jackfruit Al Pastor Tacos, p. 61
  • Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos, p. 66

Pepitas are a main component in classic Mexican Pipián sauces. Try:

  • Jackfruit in Green Pistachio Pipián, p. 79
  • Jackfruit in Red Pipián, p. 80
  • Mushrooms in Green Mole, p. 85
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