I'm no longer a vegetarian — but I love these easy vegan banana pancakes anyway

Even the people who are committed to pork love these vegan pancakes

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published August 18, 2023 5:00PM (EDT)

Stack Of Pancakes With Honey, Bananas And Raspberries (Getty Images/Javier Zayas Photography)
Stack Of Pancakes With Honey, Bananas And Raspberries (Getty Images/Javier Zayas Photography)

My vegan pancakes taste better than anything your grandma has ever made in her life — I guarantee it. 

I am not a vegan, but I used to be vegetarian. It had nothing to do with health, ethics or a need to promote clean living. I was dating a girl out in Los Angeles, California, who was vegan, and she kind of talked me into it by saying things like, "Are you gonna live the rest of your life as a flesh eater?" and "Look what I just got from the farmers market; these are the most beautiful blueberries you'll ever have!" and "Wearing leather shoes is just evil. Are you going to continue to live your life like that?"

It wasn't hard for me to give up chicken, or at least not as hard as I thought it would be. I never had a real relationship with steak. After all, this was during my, "Excuse me, waiter, can you tell the chef to make my steak extra-extra-extra-extra well-done, because I sure would love to bite into a piece of leather?" days. 

Giving up eggs was impossible. And I was never going to give up leather sneakers — let's not be crazy. But to avoid her constant criticism, I started identifying as vegetarian. 

And like a good guy, I wasn't just a vegetarian in Los Angeles; I brought my vegetarian ways back to Baltimore. My favorite dishes were citrus ribs made of tofu, portobello burgers with a side of fries, big-ass kale salads and, when in doubt, a rotating collection of almond milk smoothies. Other than the smoothies, about 90% of my dishes came from a few soul food-inspired vegetarian spots popping up and around the city. 

The coolest part was that being vegetarian allowed me to be as judgmental as the lady I dated. "Yuck, you are going to eat beef?" I asked my friend Al. "That's disgusting!" He told me to go play in traffic before biting his burger.

On one of those trips to Los Angeles, my judgmental counterpart and I slid to a vegan restaurant that served everything you could find in a greasy carryout back in Baltimore, except it was prepared in its glorious vegan version. Like a Chicken "Cheese Fake" or a Reuben piled high with thinly sliced pieces of tofu dyed to a dark shade of red with beet juice. Man, those people were sure were creative. 

"The coolest part was that being vegetarian allowed me to be as judgmental as the lady I dated"

When pulled up for their Sunday brunch and banana pancakes were on the menu. I had about three orders with a side of veggie sausage. Needless to say, it was one of the most delicious meals I had ever had. So good that I studied the menu to make them on my own. 

The long-distance relationship between me and the vegan never really worked for me, and I believe that we would not have even had a future if we lived in the same city. But I continued being a vegetarian for a year or so after we stopped talking — and I still eat a version of those pancakes to this very day. Here's the recipe for one or two people. However, load up if you're cooking for a bunch.

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Easy vegan banana pancakes 
1-2 servings
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes


  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 thin banana slices per pancake 
  • olive oil spray or old-school olive oil or organic dairy-free butter



  1. Mix all ingredients except the bananas and olive oil in your favorite mixing bowl. I like to use olive oil spray in my nonstick pan, however, you should use what you are most comfortable cooking with. Remember that pancakes burn pretty quickly, so keep your jet on low unless you're into the burned pancake thing.  
  2. Power 2 to 3 to neat little splotches of batter into your warm pan, allow them to round out and gently touch. This next part is essential–– watch your pancakes as they form. When you start seeing the little air holes appear as the edges harden, place the banana slices on top, and then flip. The banana slices should not cause the pancakes to break apart, and you should not see them once you flip them over–– if you do, you flipped too early.
  3. Brown them to your liking and serve them with organic maple syrup.




By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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