Food

Celebrate a Vegan Persian New Year

Celebrate Persian New Year by making these Nowruz traditions vegan and eco-friendly.

Last Saturday marked not only the Spring Equinox, but also Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The celebration of Nowruz, which translates to "new day," is heavily rooted in Zoroastrian tradition, with celebrations varying from region to region. Festivities to prepare for the New Year begin in early March and stretch through the 13 days following the first day of spring. Although certain traditions, like fire jumping, aren't easily translated into a home setting, there are a number of different ways to adapt Nowruz customs for your eco-friendly, vegan household.

New Year, New Clean
Spring cleaning, or khane tekani, technically precedes Nowruz, but there's no reason why you can't get a late start on dusting cabinets or shaking out old rugs. For a green clean, dispose of cleaning products with toxic chemicals and replace them with homemade cleaners. Use natural, reusable cleaning supplies, such as cloth rags and multiple-use mops. Cut down on water usage using a tracking matt and sweeping instead of mopping when possible. For a new level of clean, rid your house of any environmentally harmful remnants with a green remodel. Our March+April issue offers a number of helpful suggestions for greening your household. Don't stop at your front door. Various green gardening methods, like drip irrigation and push lawn mowers, help reduce your garden's potentially negative impact on the environment.

House Calls
Visiting relatives is another Nowruz tradition that can be made eco- and vegan-friendly. If relatives live nearby, consider gathering the family for a leisurely bike ride. Pedaling to your destination is an excellent way to clock in exercise minutes without sacrificing quality family time. If flying is your only option, many airlines offer vegetarian and vegan meals. Contact the company before your flight to ensure that animal-free dishes are available. Interactive green maps allow users to share their favorite eco-friendly recommendations in an area, making it easy to find nearby resources for green living in unfamiliar locales. Most can be downloaded to a phone for portability.

Eat Into the New Year
Holidays typically revolve around food, and Nowruz is no exception. Persian dishes dominate to celebrate the new year, including sabzi polo mahi, rice with fresh herbs and smoked fish, koukou sabzi, an herbed soufflé, and reshteh polo, rice and noodles. Neither sabzi polo mahi nor kookoo sabzi are vegan, but a few easy substitutions can make the dishes cruelty-free. Add smoked tofu to Persian Rice to create an animal-free version of sabzi polo mahi, and mix chives, dill, parsley, and coriander into a simple Tofu Omelet or Squash Soufflé recipe for a vegan take on koukou sabzi. Reshteh polo, a traditional dish that symbolizes good fortune in the year ahead, is easily veganized. Double check to make sure the noodles are dairy- and egg-free, and substitute non-hydrogenated margarine for the butter found in most recipes.

Photo by Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com

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