Juneteenth History and Vegan Recipes

The Past, Present and Future of Juneteenth 

The United States has had a continuous and sacred tradition of celebrating the holidays and commemorative days that have shaped the country. From Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July, families and friends far and wide celebrate the moments honoring the perseverance and growth across the States.

However, there is still a holiday that is still fighting to have the national full recognition and respect that other major holidays have.

Juneteenth (or June 19), is the day back in 1865 where all enslaved individuals in the country were ensured to be free. Members of the Black community come together every year to celebrate and reflect on the past, present and future of African-American life and culture in the United States. 

The history of Juneteenth travels far before 1865. The United States became divided over the issues of expansion, states’ rights, and especially slavery.

The southern states who wanted slavery to continue, such as Texas and South Carolina, seceded from the United States after the election of President Abraham Lincoln and became known as the Confederate States of America.

The northern states who wanted to abolish slavery, including Maine and New York, were known as the Union states and fought back against the Confederates.

The Civil War began in 1861 with The First Battle of Bull Run and continued until Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. 

Nevertheless, moves to abolish slavery were made years prior to the Confederate defeat. After the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, President Lincoln issued a “preliminary Emancipation Proclamation,” freeing all slaves only in the Confederate states “after January 1, 1863.”

This order did not apply to the rebellious areas already under the Union’s control or border states, but slaves began to run “behind Union lines” as the Union advanced into the Confederacy.  Despite the Emancipation Proclamation being created in 1863, true freedom for all of those enslaved in America would not come until nearly two and a half years later. 

Slavery was still continuing in the state of Texas as the Civil War raged on with little to no Union activity to stop it. This all changed when Union General Gordon Granger and his federal troops arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865.

Granger read aloud “ General Order No. 3” — “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

The approximately 250,000 slaves in Texas were officially free from bondage and forced labor. While some slave owners hid the information until after harvest season ended, this did not stop the news and celebrations from spreading across the country. 

Celebrations of the past had a focus on reflection as well as rejoicing over a new future. These historic Juneteenth celebrations included activities such as church services, speeches and stories from those once enslaved.

There was also a focus on having fun within the community, with games, rodeo events and even contests being part of the festivities as well.

Music had a special spotlight, with hymns, gospel, and jazz being played throughout the day. The Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was created and sung to honor the perseverance of the Black community. 

Another aspect that was special to past Juneteenth celebrations and still is today is clothing. Those who were enslaved were only allowed to wear dull or neutral tones. To celebrate their freedom, those who were now free wore bright colors on the holiday.

The colors black, red, and green became popular to symbolize the Pan-African flag as well as honor their ancestors’ struggle towards freedom. 

Food is a major part of any Black celebration, but especially on Juneteenth. There is a focus on the inclusion of red foods for the festivities, as culinary historian and writer Michael Twitty told Oprah Daily since “the more common foods of the day were white, green, or brown, there was an excitement that came with the rarity of eating red colored treats.”

After the Civil War, those who were formerly enslaved would even use an expensive South American dye to color their own foods red.

The significance of the color goes back to the slave trade, with many enslaved Africans and those from the Caribbean going through Galveston, the birth place of Juneteenth.

With Texas being one of the last states to participate in the slave trade, “The color red is highly associated with the cultures that would've come through the later years of the trade, which would have been Yoruba and Kongo,” Twitty states. 

Areas such as the “Republic of Congo” and the “Yoruba of Nigeria, Benin, and Togo” put “great philosophical and spiritual value in the color red,” with the color taking on meanings such as “sacrifice, transition, and power.” Today, this color is incorporated into modern dishes such as red velvet cake, watermelon or red beans and rice.

Prosperous food such as corn (“to symbolize gold”) and black-eyed peas (to symbolize wealth) are also featured in order to manifest good luck into one’s life.

Black staples such as ribs, hot links and other barbeque items are also included on the day’s menu. Seen as a food for the whole community, Texas Monthly’s BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn found “multiple 19th century newspaper reports that all called for entire communities to gather at the local barbecue pit or grounds to prepare the food and eat together in honor of Juneteenth.” 

And of course, most if not all of these food favorites can be veganized to ring in a compassionate celebration.

Today, Juneteenth celebrations honor the traditions of the past while incorporating new and fun activities of modern culture. There are still church services, speeches and storytelling across the country. In addition, there are also yearly outings such as parades, concerts, or even celebrations at local parks.

For example, thousands of people came out to Houston’s Emancipation Park (bought by former slaves for celebrations years to come) in order to celebrate the holiday.

The traditional colors of the Pan-African flag are still worn by numerous Black individuals today. 47 states and the District of Columbia formally recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. With only three states to go, Juneteenth is fighting to have the respect and honor it deserves. 

The road to get to freedom for those enslaved in the United States was long and turbulent. The day that those formerly enslaved finally were able to be seen as free individuals deserves to be recognized by all.

Through cuisine, community, and celebration, the Black community in America is making sure that this historic day does not go unnoticed.

Now that we have a bit of history behind the Juneteenth Holiday, it's time to celebrate with some delicious vegan eats from some incredible vegan food bloggers.

1. Vegan Peach Cobbler

“Now that summer is here, It is high time to enjoy the deliciousness of the amazing peach fruit. Although you can make several dessert recipes that use peaches, the one I am going to share today is a super easy, flavorsome, and utterly comforting recipe.” -Vegan, What?

2. Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese

“Good vegan mac and cheese is hard to come by. Lucky for you, I’ve got an Easy Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe that delivers!” -I Can You Can Vegan

3. Jackfruit Pot Roast

Using an Instant Pot is my secret weapon when making this dish. It makes the process super easy and the pressure cooking element tenderizes the jackfruit, potatoes and carrots in no time at all.-Let's Be Vegan

4. Bangin Vegan Collard Greens

Greens that taste just like Big Mama’s (hold the smoked meat).-Eat Plants and Prosper

5. How to Make Easy and Quick Watermelon Mint Lime Popsicle

“This watermelon popsicle recipe couldn’t be any simpler to make since it only requires four ingredients. These watermelon popsicles are a perfect frozen treat to beat the heat.” -The VGN Way

6. Passion Fruit and Rum Cocktail

“Made with kombucha, passion fruit, maple syrup and white rum, this cocktail is super easy to make and does not require special equipment, but is sure to satisfy your cravings for a cooling exotic drink this summer!” -Murielle Banackissa

7. Instant Pot Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Are you ready for a quick and easy recipe? This recipe is perfect for students or people who need something a recipe that is not too challenging.” -What Taylor Likes

8. Vegan Spinach Lasagna (Gluten-Free)

Vegan spinach lasagna! The perfect comfort food dinner for any day of the year. Easy to make with just a handful of ingredients!-From the Comfort of My Bowl

9. Vegan Pot Pie (Gluten-Free)

This flavorful gluten-free Vegan Pot Pie is simply amazing, made with carrots, potatoes, green beans, and jackfruit, seasoned with herb-infused broth. It is perfect for the holidays!-Healthier Steps


Anyone for VEGAN BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE ICE CREAM? Well here it is- first ice cream shot of the season, and probably my favourite ice-cream photo I've taken to-date.-Sugar Hammock

11. New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice

There are few things as comforting to me as a hot bowl of smokey beans and rice. I’m sure there are others, but beans really have a way of sticking to your ribs and making you feel all loved on the inside.-Sweet Potato Soul

12. Watermelon Mojitos Recipe

These Watermelon Mojitos are incredibly easy to make, only 5 ingredients and are a perfect refreshing, minty summer cocktail!-Jessica in the Kitchen

13. Collard Green Salad and Black Eye Pea Fritters

One of the most amazing things about collard greens is that they can actually lower your cholesterol when you eat them – more than any other crucifer, which beats out kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.-Yes Baby I Like It Raw

14. Vegan Chocolate Applesauce Cake

A delicious moist chocolate cake with a decadent chocolate ganache.-Acooba

15. Quick Apple Tarts Vegan

Quick & Easy Vegan Apple Tarts. They’re seriously addictive and simple and wayyyy cheaper than buying vegan pastries!-Rachel Ama

16. Vegan German Chocolate Cupcakes

My Mama’s favorite cake is a German chocolate one and I originally made this as a cake but I prefer the ease of making cupcakes.-Diary of a Mad Black Vegan

17. Vegan Fried Catfish

Watch and learn the secret on how to make vegan fried catfish (or as I call it “Katfish”) with this easy vegan seafood recipe.-Fineapple Vegan


This deliciousness was created when I was going through my pour sweet cashew cream on all of the things phase! They are delicious and super easy to make!” -Shamelessly Fabulous


A soul food classic now made vegan and healthier! Air fried okra is great to eat as a filling side dish or as a quick appetizer!” -Vegan With Curves

20. Gluten-Free Blueberry Galette (Vegan)

“Sweet juicy berries wrapped up in a simple, homemade flaky crust…it’s the perfect summer dessert. Blueberries not in season where you are? No problem, you can make it with frozen berries, too!” -Delightful Adventures

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