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?

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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.

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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.

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Culture

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

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Two of Latin America’s most important ingredients – staples of cuisines across the region – are in danger of possible extinction thanks to climate change. Tomatoes and chilies both make up a huge part of traditional recipes from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina to Cuba – and they’re close to disappearing from grocery stores everywhere.

We know that tomato and chili are two fundamental ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Due to the threats suffered by its main pollinator, the bumblebee, these basic ingredients could disappear forever.

Climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. But one of the most at-risk species is the humble bumble bee. These often feared insects are a vital source of pollination for thousands of plant and flower species around the world – if they disappear so too do the species of plants that depend on them.

Pollinators are species of great importance for a healthy environment. They are responsible for the the diversity and health of various biomes. Across Latin America, the bumble bee is largely responsible for the pollination of modern agriculture and this could have a major impact on the production of tomatoes and chilis.

Unfortunately, bumblebees are currently threatened, resulting in the possible extinction of different vegetables, including tomatoes and chili.

But why does the tiny bumble bee matter at all?

The bumble bee belongs to the insect family Apidae, which includes hundeds of different species of bumblebees. In fact, the bumble bee can be found on every continent except Antarctica and plays an outsized role in agriculture. The insects are often larger than honey bees, come in black and white varieties and often feature white, yellow, or orange stripes. This genus belongs to the Apidae family that includes different species commonly known as bumblebees. They’re almost entirely covered by very silky hairs. An adult bumblebee reaches 20 millimeters or more and feeds primarily on nectar from flowering plants. A curious fact is that females have the ability to sting, while males do not.

Bumblebees are epic pollinators of the tomato and chili plantS. Together with different species, the bumblebee helps produce many staple foods that are part of healthy diets around the world. If these become extinct the eating habits of all Latinos would suffer drastic changes as several vegetables would disappear.

So why are bumblebees in danger?

The main threat of these insects is the pesticides used in modern agriculture. That is why it is necessary to avoid consuming food produced in this way. We can all help the bumblebee planting plants, protecting native species and especially not damaging their natural environment.

But climate change is also wreaking havoc on the breeding patters of bumblebees – leading to colony collapse. With fewer colonies there is less breeding and therefore fewer bees around the world to pollinate our global crops.

Can you imagine a world without tomatoes or chilies?

Salsa. Moles. Pico de gallo. Ketchup. Chiles rellenos. Picadillo. All of these iconic Latin American dishes would be in danger of going extinct along with the bumblebee – because what’s a mole without the rich, complex flavors of dried chilies?

Several groups are already working hard to help fund programs that would work to conserve the dwindling bumblebee populations. While others are working out solutions that could perhaps allow tomatoes and chilies to self-pollinate – much as other plants already do.

Kat Von D Beauty No Longer Belongs To The Famous Tattoo Artist, ‘I Just Can’t Do Everything,’ She Said

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Kat Von D Beauty No Longer Belongs To The Famous Tattoo Artist, ‘I Just Can’t Do Everything,’ She Said

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After 12 years of bold colors, vegan products, and cruelty-free beauty innovation, Kat Von D announced that she’s stepping down from her eponymous beauty line. The queen of vegan makeup sold her stakes in the company and the cosmetics line will be rebranding to reflect her departure from the makeup line. 

Kat Von D announced that she has sold all of her remaining shares in Kat Von D Beauty to partner Kendo.

The makeup line’s existing parent company will now take ownership completely now that Von D has formally resigned from her role. In a company press release, the brand stated that while Von D pursues her artistic endeavors, she will no longer be involved with the brand “in any capacity.”

Kat Von D announced she’s parting ways with her eponymous beauty brand after 12 years to allow the brand to continue to grow. 

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This past year has been one of great change for me. As many of you know, I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, launched my vegan shoe line, and am now busy prepping to release my long awaited album in the Spring, followed by an international tour! As much as I wish I could balance all of this, on top of continuing my makeup line, it has become clear to me that I just can’t do everything at the maximum capacity. It's hard to admit this, since I’ve always said “You can do everything and anything.” But I don’t think admitting one's limits is a bad thing. With that said, I’ve decided to sell my shares of the brand, turning it over to Kendo, my partners for the past 11 years. This was not an easy decision, but after careful consideration, I decided I wanted the makeup line to continue to thrive and grow, and I believe Kendo is primed to do just that. The transition for you, my loyal customers, will be seamless. In order to avoid any confusion with such a big change, Kat Von D Beauty will take a moment to rebrand itself, so you will start noticing the change from KatVonD Beauty to KvD Vegan Beauty. I'd like to thank my beloved fans+followers who supported my vision to create a brand that stood for compassion, true artistry, and challenged modern ideals of beauty — most of which I never could relate to. I was able to create a makeup line that made outsiders like me feel like we have a place in this “beauty” world, and gave myself and others the tools to express ourselves in our own unique way, whether it was embraced by the majority or not. And I just couldn’t have done any of this without you! Lastly, thank you for understanding+respecting my choice, as it was a difficult one to make, but one I am proud of regardless, and am confident that the team will continue the KvD legacy! Here’s to many, many more years of KvD Vegan Beauty!

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The tattoo and makeup artist shared the news on Instagram, revealing that it wasn’t an easy decision. On top of being a new mom, launching a vegan shoe line, and preparing to release an album and tour in the spring, Von D admits she is no longer able to dedicate enough attention to the cosmetics brand. 

“This past year has been one of great change for me. As many of you know, I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, launched my vegan shoe line, and am now busy prepping to release my long-awaited album in the Spring, followed by an international tour,” she wrote in the post’s caption. “As much as I wish I could balance all of this, on top of continuing my makeup line, it has become clear to me that I just can’t do everything at the maximum capacity.”

Kat Von D dedicated more than 2 years to her vegan shoe line.

Von D worked to create her own shoe collection, making careful decisions about everything from a price point ranging from $90 to $350 to where, exactly, the pieces would be made.

“I became vegan in 2013 and, to be honest, I thought it was just a dietary thing,” she told InStyle “Then I was looking at my shoe collection and everything was either made out of leather or snakeskin, or the adhesive used was derived from horses.”

The silver lining for fans of Kat Von D’s cult-favorite products is that they’re not going anywhere.

Kat Von D Beauty’s iconic products like the cult-favorite Ink Liner and Lock-It Foundation aren’t going anywhere. Under Kendo’s complete ownership, the brand’s current product lineup will still be available, and there will be future launches. All products will still be 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free. 

She continued  “…With that said, I’ve decided to sell my shares of the brand, turning it over to Kendo, my partners for the past 11 years. This was not an easy decision, but after careful consideration, I decided I wanted the makeup line to continue to thrive and grow, and I believe Kendo is primed to do just that.” 

As of Jan 16. Kat Von D Beauty is slowly rebranding as KVD Beauty. The announcement of the new name was made on the brand’s Instagram

“Today, our founder Kat Von D has parted ways with us, as she leaves to pursue other artistic endeavors (vegan shoe line and music). We wish her the best of luck and thank her for 12 years of partnership,” reads the post’s caption. “We are NOW renamed and re-branded KVD Vegan Beauty – and fully owned and operated by Kendo. The same team that created our iconic and beloved products for the past 12 years (and built the empire with Kat) is ready to make history again. We still value self-expression, compassion, and empowerment.” 

Von D launched her vegan cosmetic brand in 2008 with four red lipsticks.

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Now, there are over 250 products in the collection, which are sold globally in 36 countries at Katvondbeauty.com, Sephora.com, and Sephora stores. Products like the Ink Liner and Everlasting Liquid Lipstick are both fan and industry favorites. 

With Von D out, KVD Vegan Beauty will continue to offer its existing product range, and will now release new innovations under Kendo.

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“We are fully positioned to continue the brand’s growth and development in both product and marketing,” David Suliteanu, Kendo CEO says. “We have developed a very strong product pipeline for 2020 and beyond. The same Kendo team that made history with KVD Vegan Beauty is ready to do it again.” 

Von D added that during her tenure, she felt she was able to create a line that made outsiders feel like they had a “place in the beauty world.” She also expressed confidence in Kendo for carrying the KVD legacy.

READ: After Saying She Won’t Vaccinate Her Kid, Kat Von D Wants You To Know She’s Not An Anti-Vaxxer