i Viva La Vegan !

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

One thing most Latinx people can agree on is that we love to eat. When it comes to Mexican food, a simple carne asada taco with onions, cilantro, a touch of lime and 2 layered homemade tortillas all washed down with a cold Jarritos never ceases to satisfy this little Chicana.


There are actually a growing number of young Latinx and black people who connect personal health and animal welfare with the fight for social justice and racial equality—refuting the idea that veganism is just about being flaca.

And while it’s hard to beat the delicious simplicity of the more traditional (a street-side arepa, pupusa, or a bombass empanada) Latinx food culture in the U.S. has been experiencing a cultural shift for the last few decades catering to a new generation of Latinos which includes vegetarians and...vegans.


That’s right, vegan food in the Latinx community is blowin’ up—right alongside our abuelita’s minds.


Pop-up festivals organized around Vegan-Mex vendors in working-class Latinx suburbs have gained enormous popularity throughout Southern California over the past year.


And whatever your preconceived ideas are about cutting the carne out of carne asada, there’s something kinda cool about taking Latin recipes and fusing them with the socially conscious values of the current generation, one tortilla at a time. Tortillas are vegan, right?


Look, I just found out that most wine isn’t vegan. I know. Google it.


There are actually a growing number of young Latinx and black people who connect personal health and animal welfare with the fight for social justice and racial equality—refuting the idea that veganism is just about being flaca.


But let’s back up a bit. This shift toward socially conscious eating is especially significant given that black and Latinx Americans are much more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white people.


One reason for the disparity is the limited access to stores with healthy food options in lower-income communities. Studies show that when compared with communities with similar poverty rates, black and Latinx neighborhoods have fewer large supermarkets than their white counterparts. These communities are known as food deserts—places where you’re much more likely to find a slurpee than a smoothie.


I grew up in a community with few healthy dining options, but fortunately for me, I was raised by an ex-farm boy who grew organic produce in our backyard. Also fortunately for me, a 7-11 was conveniently located two blocks away, cause I was a ten- year-old sugar addict and a girl can only eat so many organic figs.


One response to the food desert dilemma is chef-owner Raul Medina’s vegan catering company, La Venganza, which he started because he ”wanted to find a good vegan taco de carnitas and couldn’t find an affordable one. They were only at affluent vegan hipster spots." Medina has found creative ways to veganize taco classics like chicken, carne asada, and even beef tripe uses everything from jackfruit to the hardened skim of soy milk.



And it’s true, here in the U.S., veganism is often associated with an affluent, white, hipster crowd. However, historically, most of Mexico's indigenous natives, before the Conquest, followed a plant-based diet. The introduction of beef, pork, chicken, lamb and goat as mainstays of Mexican cuisine all came with the Spaniards.


So if someone tries to tell you that being vegan is somehow an afront to your Latinx roots, that usually shuts ‘em pretty quick. iQue te calles!


That’s why chefs like Raul Medina challenge the notion that access to the vegan market should solely be left to wealthy, predominantly caucasian communities. He believes in taking back these ingredients and making them available to people of color.


Increasingly, more black and Latinx people are choosing to give veganism a try, whether it’s to fend off health issues like heart disease, protect animals, or as an response to various social and environmental issues.


Despite all this, I think we’re neglecting the most important question of all: is Latinx vegan food any good?


Well, Chef Medina’s La Venganza did win LA Taco’s annual Taco Madness competition for best taco in SoCal, beating out established and more importantly, non-vegan competitors. Definitely not a bad sign, but only one way to be sure. [ Hint: ipruebalo! ]

Also, I firmly believe that Soyrizo tastes just as good as the real thing. I dare you to challenge me on that.


I dare you.