What started out as partaking in Meatless Mondays evolved into an entire lifestyle for David Alires and his wife, Jessica. Almost three years after going vegan, the meat- and dairy-free couple are now churning out traditional Mexican comfort foods.
“My wife and I would go out and get veggie tacos with zucchini and bell peppers,” Alires says. “And they were good tacos, but we just needed something different.” The couple would make meatless pozole and rice and beans; tasting the resulting flavors ignited a chef’s flame in Alires.
Alires was inspired to re-create the same flavors he knew and loved, only veganized to fit his new lifestyle. He marinates thin-sliced seitan to make a popular carne asada, selling the product to local food trucks. Recently, he teamed up with Vegan Van for Choloass…ada Fries: fresh-cut fries topped with the seitan carne asada, vegan queso, sour cream, onions, cilantro, radish and avocado, and served with salsa roja.
The Fixed Up Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup made with red chiles, hominy and jackfruit topped with cabbage, radish, onion, oregano, lime and cashew crema. Alires also makes red and green chile tamales, seitan al pastor and jackfruit pozole.
The feedback from the vegan community has been phenomenal, Alires says. A friend's family members are vegan, and after telling him that they could not find traditional vegan Mexican food, he made them some of his carne asada. “They loved it,” Alires says. “They said it was reminiscent for them, and they hadn’t had those authentic flavors in so long.”
Alires says he loves hearing people tell him, “It’s just like the food I grew up with,” and “It’s just like my grandma made.”
Right now, Alires is selling his products to food trucks, but customers can also place direct orders through direct message on the Cholo Ass Vegan Facebook and Instagram pages, and a website is in the works. He goes to various pop-ups and events around town, including those at the Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary, a cause that is important to Alires.
The plant-based entrepreneur hopes that his food encourages more people to eat vegan. “The goal is to make it easy to eat this way and take away excuses,” he says.
Alires is also co-hosting Firme Movie & Munchies Night — a series of pop-up movie screenings celebrating vegan food and weed. “Our main interest is bringing up both communities. There are stigmas around smoking weed and stigmas around veganism,” Alires says, adding that he wants these events to be relaxed and fun, and also give people an opportunity to gain new perspective on both industries.
The next one is Saturday, March 2, at the Warehouse Creative Space at 2611 West 64th Avenue. Tickets range from $15 to $25 on Eventbrite — and the movie is Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke, of course.