Veganized Traditional Southern New Year's Fare

By Anna Lam

Southern food always seems an unlikely candidate for veganization. Having lived in the South my whole life and developed a taste for rich, down-home southern flavors, I've always been disappointed to find ingredients lists for southern food recipes riddled with decidedly un-vegan ingredients such as bacon drippings, pork fat, chicken stock, ham, and butter. Luckily, I went vegan with the promise that anything can be made vegan, so I decided to test that theory by veganizing some of my favorite traditional Southern New Year's Day fare.

Come New Year's Day, you'll find many of the good people of the South partaking in everything from homemade skillet corn bread made from scratch, collard or turnip greens simmered until savory and tender, and plump black-eyed peas ("Hoppin' Johns") cooked with fragrant vegetables. What's more is that there's a reason for eating each of these dishes, as eating these foods is purported in the Southern tradition to bring one good luck and fortune in the coming year. So this year, get out the fine china and Cajun seasoning — we're eatin' good tonight! Note: These recipes serve 10, enough for you and your family and/or friends!

Cornbread Flapjacks with Jalapeño-Mayhaw Jelly

(Serves 10)

I love this recipe. It's a delightful twist on a very traditionally Southern recipe. Some say that the cornbread represents gold, so frying up some coin-shaped cornbread flapjacks seems apt. Either way, you have nothing to lose by serving up a piping hot stack of pancakes smothered with a delicious mix of jalapeno-mayhaw jelly. Both jalapeno jelly and mayhaw jelly are quintessentially Southern, but if you can't find either of them, I've found that chopping up fresh jalapeños and mixing it with apple, peach, or apricot jelly does it for me.

Jalapeño-Mayhaw Jelly:

  • 1 Tablespoon jalapeño jelly
  • 2 Tablespoons mayhaw jelly

Mix the jellies together in a small serving dish and smother on flapjacks, seitan, or rice — it's good on everything!

Total calories per serving: 12 Fat: <1 gram
Carbohydrates: 3 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: <1 milligrams Fiber: <1 gram


  • 1 Tablespoon vegan butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/4 cups vegan milk (I used Silk almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or other neutral tasting plant oil)
  • 1/2 ripe mashed banana

Grease a large pan or skillet with butter or margarine, and set aside. Then mix the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in a large mixing bowl and give it a whisk. Then add the plant milk, oil and banana to the mixing bowl, and mix until you get a creamy, uniform consistency. Dollop batter onto hot pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Serve with jelly.

Total calories per serving: 175 Fat: 7 grams
Carbohydrates: 25 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 119 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Hoppin' Johns

(Serves 10)

Bring in the New Year with a steaming pile of Hoppin' Johns. This classic Southern dish is a must to serve if you're going to start off the year with good luck and a full belly.

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium chopped white onion
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 chopped medium stalk celery
  • 1 chopped medium orange bell pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon lite soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon Perfect Pinch "Savory All-Purpose" or other salt-free seasoning
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • One 16-ounce package frozen purple hull peas or black eyed peas
  • 2 cups basmati rice

Add oil to a hot, large pot and sauté the onions, garlic, celery, orange bell pepper, and bay leaves for a few minutes or until fragrant. Add lite soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and Perfect Pinch (or other salt-free) seasoning. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add purple hull peas or black eyed peas into pot and bring the mixture back up to a boil, cooking for about 3 minutes. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until halfway cooked (if you're using black eyed peas, simmer for about 5-10 minutes longer before adding the rice). Add two cups basmati rice. Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the rice is fluffy and stands apart from the beans.

Total calories per serving: 231 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 46 grams Protein: 7 grams
Sodium: 132 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams

Turnip Greens

(Serves 10)

Serve up some greens to your loved ones this New Year's to ensure they have some green in their pockets this coming year! These turnip greens are flavorful and, cooked long enough, become tender and melt-in-your-mouth good.

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped medium onion
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • Two 14-ounce packages frozen turnip greens
  • 1/2 Tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons organic brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon lite soy sauce
  • Dash of hot sauce to taste
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Add one Tablespoon of olive oil to a pan or medium pot and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes or until fragrant. Pour vegetable broth into the pot and heat to a rapid boil. Add turnip greens, boiling for 3 minutes then reducing to a simmer. At this point, add the liquid smoke, Cajun seasoning, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and hot sauce. If you so desire, you can add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper as well for a spicy punch. Serve warm.

Total calories per serving: 45 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 6 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 270 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams

Seitan ‘Ham’

(Serves 10)

New Year's isn't complete without a delicious mock-meat dish to boot! The Southern tradition usually calls for some kind of pork, but this ‘roast' is well worth the effort and it completes the Southern tradition of New Year's fare without the cruelty.

  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 cup chickpea (garbanzo) flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lite soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 chopped medium onion

Mix wheat gluten, flour, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, onion and garlic powder, and basil in a medium mixing bowl. Combine the tomato paste, white wine vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and hot water in a separate bowl and give it a mix. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mix well, and knead the resulting 'dough' for two minutes. Set aside.

Next, fill a medium pot with the vegetable broth and chopped onion and bring the broth up to a simmer. Carefully place the kneaded dough into the broth and simmer for one hour, carefully turning halfway through. After one hour, remove the heat and let the seitan cool in the liquid for at least 15 minutes, then serve sliced.

Total calories per serving: 164 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 14 grams Protein: 24 grams
Sodium: 551 milligrams Fiber: 3 grams

Anna Lam is a long-distance intern with The Vegetarian Resource Group. She is from Mississippi and is a student at Baylor University in Texas.