How to Have a Vegetarian Passover Seder
The Passover lamb is one of the three most important symbols of the Passover seder. Before the 10th plague, G-d instructed the Jews to sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on our front doors. That evening, the Angel of Death moved through Egypt, visiting every house with no blood on the doors and taking with her the life of every first-born child. She passed over the houses of the Jews, sparing our first-born. We escaped Egypt that morning while the Egyptians mourned.
Today, in place of an actual sacrifice, there is a lamb shank bone on the seder plate. This is both to remind us of the sacrificial lamb as well as to symbolize that G-d took us out of Egypt with a strong arm. (The bone represents the strength of the limb.)
Today, many of us are vegetarian, for both health and humanitarian reasons. This begs the question: May we have a truly vegetarian seder? While in the end that is a question that must be asked of the community's Rabbi, these suggestions have been used and are accepted in some circles.
Many vegetarians may object to the use of a lamb bone on the seder plate on the table. It is considered acceptable to use a broiled red beet in place of the bone. One of the explanations is that the blood-red color reminds us of the blood of the sacrificial lamb.
It is easy for vegetarians to use traditional haggadot, but for those who are looking for vegetarian haggadot there are plenty of choices. Anyone using a vegetarian haggadah, however, must be mindful that the seder is neither kosher nor complete if the three things are not mentioned:
The "Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb", for example, omits the sacrifice. Following this haggadah will result in an incomplete, non-kosher seder. The mitzvah of celebrating Passover will not be completed. For those who wish to use any haggdah that omits the sacrifice, you must add and include the sacrifice and the blood on the front door when telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Once the red beet is used on the seder plate, the meal no longer must be fleishig or pareve. Without a bone on the table, we may have a festive seder meal that is dairy.
Chametz-Free vegetarian lasagna is flavorful and delicious. It can be made with matzo, but try making vegetarian lasagna with eggplant in place of the noodles. Chametz-Free vegetarian lasagna makes a wonderful entree at any dairy Passover seder.