Different cultures offer the world different delicacies. However, Mexican food has an unmatched popularity in the U.S. and around the world. In the U.S., for instance, over 86% of respondents in a recent survey1 stated that they like Mexican food, and it showed great popularity in several different countries. Before discussing various variations of Mexican food, including vegan options, let's first really think about it: what makes Mexican food stand out among the top favorite foods globally?
What is it About Mexican Food That Sets It Apart?
To answer this question accurately, we must look at the key elements of traditional Mexican cuisine that distinguish it from other foods. In this regard, we have the main ingredients like tomatoes and chiles, which must be fresh and healthy as opposed to being jars of canned or store-bought salsa. Traditional spices also stand out, such as "coriander" and "epazote" instead of dry oregano or cumin.
Other aspects include the distinct blend of seasoning, spices, and vibrant colors, offering a special mouth-watering presentation. Many traditional Mexican dishes are still rooted in pre-Hispanic origins, making them very authentic and unique in many elements, including taste. In a nutshell, Mexican food is loved so much in America and other parts of the world because it is flavorful, contains fresh ingredients, and is well-balanced and nutritious with all food groups represented in a meal.
Mexican Food at a Glance: Food by Variety, Region, Key Ingredients & Health Benefits
From the above, we have an idea of what makes Mexican food stand out. However, let’s get into some details.
Mexican Food by Variety and Region: North vs. South Cuisine & Street Food
Mexican food tends to fall into two categories based on region and variety i.e., meat-based foods in the north and seafood-based and tropical fruits in the south. Each variety has a distinct culinary identity.
Northern Mexican cuisine: The meat-based foods from the north are heavily influenced by the cowboy and ranching culture in the region. They include foods like "cabrito", "carne asada", and "machaca". The region is also home to popular stews and soups like "menudo" and "caldo de res".
Southern Mexican cuisine: The south has lighter cuisine dominated by seafood. Popular dishes include ceviche (a shrimp-based dish with ingredients like avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice) and "pescado a-la talla" (a grilled fish dish). Southern Mexican cuisine also features tropical fruits popular in the region, like papayas, mangoes, and pineapples.
Mexican street foods: Regional Mexican cuisine aside, Mexico has some of the best street foods, the most notable being;
- Tacos (tortillas topped with meat and/or vegetable filling then folded and eaten by hand)
- Elote (grilled street corn)
- Esquites (a corn salad)
- Tamales (steamed corn "masa" dough with a filling)
- Fajitas (stripped grilled meat dish in corn tortillas)
Mexican Food by Ingredients
If you’re wondering what exactly makes Mexican food so flavorful, aromatic, and tasty, here’s what you need to know about Mexican recipes.
The main ingredients in Mexican foods include corn, beans, plain rice, and meats like pork, chicken, beef, and seafood (like fish and shrimp). Other notable ingredients include avocado, tomato, and lime. However, the bold flavor, aroma, and taste unique to Mexican foods can be traced back to the Mexican spices that add depth and complexity to many popular dishes.
For instance, mole sauce gets its unique taste and flavor (slightly sweet, rich, and savory) from ingredients like chili peppers, seeds, and nuts. Other delicacies like "chili con carne" (a spicy stew) get their unique taste from ground beef, chili peppers, cumin, garlic, and paprika.
Other popular ingredients to credit include cilantro (coriander), Mexican cinnamon, jalapenos, pumpkin seeds, and citrus.
Health Benefits of Mexican Food
As mentioned, Mexican foods feature traditional ingredients that are fresh, organic and representative of healthy foods. In fact, the main ingredients have their own proven health benefits. Chilies, for instance, are packed with essential vitamins (Vitamin C & A). They also contain capsaicin (the compound responsible for spiciness) linked to balanced cholesterol benefits. Stapes like beans are healthy plant-based sources of protein. Ingredients like cinnamon also have triglyceride and blood sugar level benefits. Most, if not all traditional Mexican dishes have ingredients with notable health benefits, more so like vegan food.
Vegan Food at a Glance
Before we look at vegan Mexican food, it’s important to define vegan food. Any plant-based diet that avoids animal-based foods like meat (i.e., beef, fish, pork) and animal-derived products like dairy, honey, and eggs, qualifies as vegan. A vegan diet is primarily based on foods derived from plants i.e., vegetables, nuts, grains, and fruits.
Those who consume a vegan diet (vegans) do so mainly due to health, ethical, environmental, and religious reasons. For instance, the meat industry globally has been guilty of unsustainable practices that contribute to the climate crisis. Some people choose to consume a plant-based diet to avoid being part of the problem. Others may decide to stick to plant-based meals due to dietary restrictions, such as allergies. There are also those after health benefits considering there are studies showcasing the benefits of a plant-based diet surpass modern diets.
The vegan diet movement has become incredibly popular for the above reasons and others with many Americans (65%)2 preferring plant-based foods that mimic the flavor and textures of animal protein, as per a recent IFIC 2021 study. In a nutshell, there is a general preference for plant-based alternatives in the U.S. today.
Vegan Mexican Food
Considering traditional Mexican foods are made using traditional ingredients that are fresh, organic, and healthy, the foods can offer great vegan-friendly options. However, isn’t Mexican food boring when you get rid of meat? Well, we don’t think so!
Currently, there are plant-based meat alternatives that are not only excellent sources of protein but are indistinguishable from animal-based meat in texture, taste, and flavor. Most importantly, they align with the health, ethical, environmental, and religious reasons for many people who prefer vegan diets today.
As a result, vegan Mexican food isn’t boring, more so when you consume it from sources with amazing options. Toca Madera in Las Vegas is one of those places serving delicious Mexican vegan meals in the U.S.
Toca Madera: Enjoy Delicious Vegan Mexican Food with a New Bold Twist
Toca Madera is a modern upscale restaurant that serves Mexican cuisine with a luxurious, bold take. The restaurant is located in Las Vegas between the famous Aria Hotel and The Shops at Crystals.
Toca Madera is renowned for its mouth-watering menu featuring bold flavors and high-quality organic and sustainable ingredients. The restaurant has vegan equivalents indistinguishable from animal-based offerings.
This makes Toca Madera one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas for anyone searching for a new bold twist to plant-based Mexican food that eliminates the old notion that Mexican vegan dish options are boring.
Toca Madera’s Vegan Mexican Food Options
Toca Madera has a vegan menu that changes the game and elevates what already are amazing Mexican options.
The menu is composed of delicious vegan starters, a main course (entree), and vegan taco and burrito options. The starters include Mexican staples like guacamole, spicy pepper options like shishito peppers, and flour tortilla options like "tostaditas" featuring ingredients like black beans and pickled onions.
The main course is the epitome of a new bold twist to vegan Mexican food. In the entree offering, you can expect Toca Madera's unique vegan twist to popular foods with ingredients like mushrooms and vegan cheddar (vegan cheese) used to replace meat-based ingredients.
The vegan tacos and burritos feature ingredients like roasted peppers, avocado, cilantro, and notable plant-based alternatives like fresh black truffle. Most importantly, Toca Madera can make healthy side dishes and vegan versions of their main Mexican dishes on request.
Make a reservation or call: +1-725-255-9030 today to experience the diverse, flavorful, and bold twist of vegan Mexican food that's as good, if not better, than traditional Mexican cuisines with animal ingredients. Toca Madera is bound to offer your taste buds an unforgettable vegan cuisine experience unmatched by the best vegan restaurants in Mexico City.
What’s more, you can enjoy farm-to-glass cocktails made from fresh seasonal ingredients. Toca Madera in Las Vegas also offers an unmatched sensory experience. Enjoy tasty vegan Mexican food in a visually stunning space featuring modern and timeless designs and seductive music.
Experience a delicious Mexican meal with an entirely vegan menu dedicated to nurturing traditional Mexican dishes with the health and ethical benefits of veganism. The restaurant also has some Mediterranean-inspired dishes to not only bring a bold twist to their already delicious offerings but to also bring more options for potentially vegan delicacies.