Those who frequent more inclusive plant-based spaces know all about the cultures that prioritized sustainability and animal welfare before it was “cool.” For many in Latin America, plant-based cuisine is a way to protect the earth and make the most of the renewable resources that sprout from it. Fighting through the misconception that all Latinx cuisine is synonymous with meat, these Latinx folks are highlighting their roots and teaching the world about the compassionate cultures that #EatPlantsForAChange.
The indigenous communities of Latin America have some of the oldest traditionally sustainable and plant-based lifestyles. Since cattle were brought to the Americas through Spanish colonization— that wreaked havoc on indigenous communities’ ability to keep culture intact and widely practiced—beef is often not a traditional ingredient in Latin American recipes. Fulfilling their ancestors’ wildest dreams, these Mujxr are taking over your tables, your YouTube feed, and your Instagram grid, while decolonizing our view on Latinx cuisine—and we at Compassion USA ARE.OBSESSED. So, check these chicx out, show them some love, and tell them #EatPlantsForAChange sent you!
Veggie Mijas: Activistas de la Tierra
Veggie Mijas is a national collaborative of women / non-binary folks / femmes of color celebrating the ancestral roots of their plant-based lifestyles, educating others about the institutional barriers to healthier food options that people of color disproportionately experience every day, and the mouthwatering compassionate cultural cuisine that has thrived in spite of those barriers. Through side-by-side education and celebration of plant-based diets, these mujxr fight for environmental justice and a better future for animals, highlight the intersectionality within the plant-based journey, and provide a space for people of color to create community around those points of intersection.
With a national focus on “sharing space, relearning ancestral practices through foods, share our plant-based recipes, and provide(ing) access to information our community needs,” each local chapter also has a mission statement reflecting their own unique communities/regions. You can find a Veggie Mijas chapter near you, and join the collective to keep your inbox looking plant-based and decolonized. Love to see it, love to be it!
One Great Vegan: Gabrielle Reyes
If a triple threat can sing, dance, and act; YouTuber and cookbook author Gabrielle Reyes is coming in at least a quadruple! Creator of the YouTube channel “One Great Vegan,”One Great Vegan,” Chef Reyes hosts a musical plant-based cooking series entitled The Colorful Home Cooking Show. Reyes is Haitian-American and says that her relationship with food started with the flavorful Haitan dishes she loves, and now, she makes plant-based for better health and a better world!
You can catch Reyes every Saturday in her online, lyrical cooking classes to sharpen your kitchen skills, and your high notes, during quarantine. You can’t help but smile as you learn healthy, plant-based tips and techniques through song. Don’t believe me? Just watch. Oh, did we mention Gabrielle has a Musical Cookbook, Colorful Home Cooking with Gabrielle Reyes, coming out December 2020? Just in time for a new year, new you!
Laura Jardon: Veggie y Que Diner
Laura Jardon started her Instagram account (@Veggieyque) to show her friends, family, and community that classic Mexican cuisine didn’t have to come at the expense of respect for animals. She aimed to pass along her knowledge while allowing others to adhere to tradition without compromising on compassion. As her following grew, so did Jardon’s efforts. She founded La Vida Verde Festival in East LA, the first vegan festival of its kind in the region, bridging any divide between the classic Mexican food the city is known for and the shift to a more plant-based lifestyle.
But she didn’t stop there. Jardon manifested her success in her town of Whittier, CA as the brick-and-mortar Veggie y Que Diner, serving up plant-based eats perfect for the family Carne Asada. Follow her for the most mouthwatering Mexican food you’ve seen all day and stop by her shop whenever we can leave our houses again—don’t let your dreams be dreams!
Now don’t get us wrong, this is by no means an exhaustive list of the fabulous Latinx individuals you should follow in the plant-based space, but we hope this gets you excited about the prospect of decolonizing and diversifying your feed—and your plate—as you take this journey with us. If we’ve missed any of your favorite Latinx inspirations, let us know and keep the conversation alive in the Facebook Group!