Culture

Haters Gonna Hate: Vegan Mexican Restaurants Are Opening Up And The Backlash Is Next Level

It seems like vegan food is everywhere these days. From the fast food menus at Taco Bell, Burger Kind, and Carls Jr., to the grocery store shelves, it’s never been easier to try eating less meat.

For many people, veganism has seemed to be a diet of the privileged. It tends to have a reputation has being a bit more expensive and a little more difficult to follow than your typical diet – especially for Latinos – but from New Hampshire to Arizona and California, Latinos are embracing veganism with new restaurants.

And apparently, not everyone is happy about it.

First, what exactly is veganism?

Credit: Unsplash

Veganism is based upon eating a diet free from all animal products – typically this means no meat, no eggs, no dairy. Many people go vegan because of animal rights or to help the environment. But the largest reason cited by many people recently is because of their health.

Adults in the U.S. have a 40% chance of getting type 2 diabetes, but Hispanic and Latino adults have more than a 50% chance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Latinos also are at greater risk of developing diabetes at a younger age and getting complications like kidney failure and vision loss. The CDC says some of the factors contributing to this are genetics and the cultural value in eating meals high in fat and calories.

Ok, but like what does vegan Mexican food look like?

While most American vegan restaurants offer a few basic Mexican-inspired items, this new wave of Mexican-driven restaurants is reimagining classic Mexican recipes, the foods they grew up on, with plant-based ingredients.

Las Vegas and Austin, Texas, each have at least a few eateries or food trucks that are exclusively vegan Mexican. Across Southern California, there are a slew of options, including a vegan panaderia peddling traditional pastries.

The vegan Mex wave now seems to be sweeping Arizona.

Mi Vegana Madre expanded into a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale last year. It offers vegan takes on carne asada, al pastor and nachos with a cashew cream-based cheese sauce. Another restaurant offering vegan Mexican and Mediterranean dishes opened in January a half-mile away. In September, a third place opened in Phoenix, also led by a Mexican American family.

But many people don’t realize that pre-Hispanic Mexicans – our Indigenous ancestors – ate a diet that was largely plant-based.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

While some may say veganizing is misappropriating Mexican food, the country’s indigenous natives actually ate mostly plant-based foods, according to Arellano. Colonizers from Spain irrevocably altered the food culture with introductions of beef, lamb and pork.

“They don’t realize, if you’re real Mexicans, you’re not supposed to be eating this meat in the first place because colonizers brought it over,” Gustavo Arellano said in an interview with KTLA. “I eat everything, but I’ll eat vegan Mex if it’s good.”

And books like Decolonize Your Diet by Luz Calvo, while not focused on veganism, help connect Latinos with their Indigenous roots through their diet. Many of the ingredients and recipes popular among Latino cultures today actually originated during Colonial times. So many are turning to the diets of their ancestors and many of those diets happen to be overwhelmingly plant-based.

Vegan Mexican food definitely seems to have its haters among the Latino community.

“That’s not real Mexican food,” ”My grandma would slap you” and “sellout” are just some of comments Jose and Leticia Gamiz received when they started their pop-up vegan Mexican food business, Mi Vegana Madre, four years ago.

People saw them doing something new and took it personally, Jose Gamiz said. “We even had somebody write (online) in Spanish, ‘They’re probably not even Mexican.’”

Despite the haters, the couple’s meat- and dairy-free endeavor has built a following. It’s part of a growing vegan Mexican food industry in the U.S. that has seen Latinos take control of the kitchen and plant-based Mexican cuisine increasingly plant roots in areas with large Latino communities.

Yet for some Latinos, going sin carne can still feel like a sin.

Linda Sepulveda, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has virtually no all-vegan Mexican restaurants, would find it hard to give up an omnivore’s life. Her house is always stocked with ground beef, tortillas and salsa.

Telling KTLA News, she said “I’m intrigued by (vegan Mexican), but I think a part of me knows it won’t taste the same,” she said. “We are always trying to find where we can add veggies, but there always has to be a main meat and everything else dresses it up.”

But all despite the haters, veganism seems to be on the rise all around the world.

Veganism is a rapidly growing movement – from just a few million in the early 90’s to around 550–950 million world wide as of last year. The search term for veganism has gone up by 550% according to google and veganism in the UK has risen over 300% in the last 5 years. But it’s not just limited to the US and the UK.

Even in Mexico, which many consider to be a country that loves its meat, veganism is on the rise. According to data collected by the Gourmet Show, a major Mexican food festival that showcases new products and highlights the latest trends in the gourmet food and drinks space, 20 percent of Mexicans identify as vegan or vegetarian. And, according to Maria Fernanda, manager of Villalobos Vegan Inc., the majority of these people are women, representing between 60-70 percent of this vegan demographic.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Neiman Marcus Is Charging White People Prices For “Traditional, Handmade” Tamales And The Internet Has Had Enough

Culture

Neiman Marcus Is Charging White People Prices For “Traditional, Handmade” Tamales And The Internet Has Had Enough

Paul Gobert / Getty Images

America’s fancification and appropriation of simple, traditional foods – especially “ethnic foods” – reached another milestone with the news that Dallas-based retailer Neiman Marcus is now selling gourmet tamales on its website at a pretty astounding price — six dozen for $92, plus $18 for shipping. That’s $110 for 72 tamales.

How have we made it this far without Neiman Marcus tamales? For years, we’ve been relying on handmade tamales from our tías and primas like peasants, unaware that luxury tamales were just a click and a payday away.

The luxury tamales made headlines in outlets ranging from the Dallas Morning News to GQMy San Antonio called it “an outright food foul,” taking this “usually affordable, traditional dish” and tacking on “an outrageous price tag.”

But is it really at all surprising that a luxury retailer is trying to make a buck off our people’s food and culture?

Neiman Marcus is the type of place where you can expect to see a Mexican-inspired jacket, such as this one, retailing for more than $300.

Given the propensity for corporations from around the world to try and capitalize off other people’s cultures, it really isn’t too surprising that Neiman Marcus would launch a line of luxury tamales.

Now the Dallas-based luxury retailer is once again offering up ‘luxury yet tradition’ with their ‘handmade’ tamales.

Although news of the tamales has once again shocked many of us, it isn’t exactly new. It was in 2016 when Neiman Marcus first started offering these highbrow tamales and even then it made headlines. And it’s easy to see why.

An order of six dozen Neiman Marcus tamales will set you back $92, plus shipping. Neiman Marcus tamales might look like regular tamales, but they’re actually very expensive and fancy. They are “handmade from a traditional recipe of fresh stone-ground corn, top-quality meats, lard, spices, and natural flavorings.” Can the food truck by your office honestly claim that its meats are top-quality? Or is your mama using luxury masa?! 

At six dozen (72 total if you’re too lazy to do the math), the $92 price tag isn’t totally off the mark, especially if they’re truly handmade. Anyone who has helped make tamales during the holidays knows that it’s not only time-consuming, it also takes a bit of practice. (And if you screw up too often, you’ll be roasted for it by your mom and tías).

They’re only available in beef, chicken and pork. Sorry, folks, no rajas. Unfortunately for Neiman Marcus customers, they’ll never experience what it’s like to unwrap a tamal, bite into it and realize it’s a random tamal de dulce that got mixed in with a different batch. 

But wait, there’s more! You can also order an “Enchilada Dinner” for $72.

Neiman Marcus didn’t stop with the tamales. Shoppers can also order flautas and enchiladas. In fact, for $72, plus $18 shipping, you get 12 enchiladas: six with beef and six with chicken.

Yup, Neiman Marcus is asking people to pay $90 for 12 enchiladas.

Just curious as to how many people are actually paying these white people prices to get their hands on traditional Mexican foods?

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Mexican Mom Has Gone Viral On TikTok For Her Recipe Videos Showing You How Easy It Is To Be A Cook

Culture

This Mexican Mom Has Gone Viral On TikTok For Her Recipe Videos Showing You How Easy It Is To Be A Cook

@JennyMartinezzz / TikTok

Look, it’s no secret that cooking isn’t for everyone. It can be tiring, time-consuming, and sometimes downright difficult. Even if we’re learning from our abuelos or tíos, who are passing down a generation’s worth of recipes, the idea of cooking can be intimidating.

But one woman has taken to TikTok to demystify Mexican cooking and she’s making it look super easy in the process. And as someone who’s actually tried out several of her quick TikTok recipe videos, I can tell you, it is as easy as it looks.

Jenny Martinez has quickly become TikTok’s favorite Latina mom.

In her videos on TikTok, Jenny Martinez shares her traditional Mexican recipient with more than 1.5 million followers – and everything from her dad’s famous shrimp cocktail to her easy churros is on the menu.

Martinez got the idea to create recipe videos for TikTok from her daughter, who herself is an avid TikTok user. The duo shot a few short videos and from their things quickly escalated.

“The following morning my phone was blowing up and we couldn’t believe it that one of my videos had gone viral,” Martinez told In The Know.

Although creating video content, especially cooking content, is a lot of work, Martinez sees it as a chance to do what she already loves – to cook. For her, it’s not just about making mouthwatering meals, like conchas con nieve or chuletas abobadasit’s about preserving Mexican culture.

She learned traditional cooking from her mother growing up.

Like so many of us, Martinez grew up learning how to cook with her mother.

“For me, it’s not — it’s not that I’m giving away my secrets,” Martinez told In The Know. “To me, it’s just sharing my knowledge to the younger community so we can continue our culture, the authentic Mexican recipes that our grandmas, our mothers passed down to us.”

Food is one of the greatest bonds between a community. It helps shape traditions, events, ceremonies, and entire cultures. Martinez knows this and believes that food can unite the people within a culture while educating those outside of it. Some of her followers haven’t heard of the ingredients she uses but her explainers in English make such barriers fade away.

“The whole Mexican cooking, it’s just something that connects us together as a community and as Mexicans,” Martinez told In The Know. “Now that I see that in social media that everybody wants to learn and everybody wants to keep on the traditions, that’s what I like. That’s what I want to see.”

The mom’s recipes are great for budding chefs at all levels.

Martinez tells her followers not to get so hung up on trying something new and just attempt to do what you want with the recipe.

“You don’t have to be an expert in cooking. Just open the fridge and start following my recipes. I try to make them as easy as possible,” she said.

But at the heart of it all, Martinez is really passionate about her craft.

“I honestly see the beauty in food and in the cooking,” Martinez told In The Know. “I mean, it’s kind of like an art at the end of the day. When you’re plating it and when you see everything just combining. When you see all of those ingredients, that aroma coming out, to me it’s just beautiful.”

One of her most popular recipe videos are her sandia paletas!

Sure, summer may be over but it’s still forever sandia season in my mind. Especially the version Martinez does on her TikTok. Lathered in chamo y and tajin, you’ll never look at sandia paletas the same.

And you’re not the only one – this video has been viewed more than 1.2 million times!

This is the one that I tried to make and it turned out soooo good.

Carne asada nachos are the ultimate cure for la cruda and every time I was out at bar hoping (pre-Covid obviously), I’d almost always end up at a truck by my house for these guys. But doing them at home is just as easy and mil veces mas delicious!

Martinez teaches you how to make these bomb nachos in less than 30 seconds so it’s worth your investment. The result is everything!

Which recipes are you most excited to try out? Or h

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com