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.

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.

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Here Are 9 Salsas From Across Latin America That You’ll Carry In Your Bag Every Day Of The Week

Culture

Here Are 9 Salsas From Across Latin America That You’ll Carry In Your Bag Every Day Of The Week

I guarantee that since Beyonce’s hit anthem ‘Formation’ hit the airwaves, we’ve all been wanting to channel our inner Bey and carry some hot sauce in our bags. But which one would you choose?  

Whether you prefer sweet and sour, ranch, spicy, or mild, when it comes to options, the possibilities are endless!

A sauce’s beauty is that every country has its famous creation that usually accompanies their traditional dishes. Every Latin American country has its mouth-watering sauce that was created using recipes passed down from ancestors.

AJILIMOJILI

In Puerto Rico, this sauce is quite popular because of its ají dulce flavor – a mix of sweet and sour notes. The green salsa is the Caribbean’s version of hot sauce and is added to recipes, such as seafood and boiled vegetables.

VALENTINA

Few of us don’t know about the magic that is Valentina. Pour that sauce all over your papas, pizza, jicama, elotes, and so much more. And it’s great because it’s available in a variety of heat levels so everyone can enjoy. 

TIÁ LUPITA HABANERO SAUCE

This Habanero Hot Sauce is an original family recipe of the brand and combines just the right amount of heat with each fruit’s natural sweetness. It is handmade in small batches, using only habanero peppers, dates, mangos, and spices. All ingredients are sourced from local farms and are non-GMO and gluten-free certified.

The sauce can be used as a condiment with breakfast burritos, eggs, sandwiches, tacos, pulled pork, steak, chicken, fish, quesadillas, and more.

CHIMICHURRI

Chimichurri is mostly tied to Argentina, even though other countries also serve the herb-based salsa. To achieve the perfect chimichurri, mix parsley, oregano, garlic, onion, pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Pair with meat cuts like churrasco and watch the magic happen.

CHIRMOL

In Central America, chismol or chirmol is made of tomatoes, onion, peppers and other ingredients. It’s similar to pico de gallo and is used in a variety of dishes.

RICANTE

Sauce, dressing, dip, marinade… Ricante does it all and with no sugar or salt added and with just the right amount of approachable spice. Ricante is not only Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, and Keto Friendly, but tiá approved!

Ricante launched with five incredibly unique hot sauces, marrying non-traditional essences like apples, mangos, carrots, and habaneros.

SALSA ROSA

Pastas are enjoyed all across Latin America, especially in Argentina and Uruguay, which pair the dishes with salsa rosa, a tomato-based sauce mixed with heavy cream. Together, they create a pink paste that blankets a variety of pasta dishes.

TACTICAL TACOS

Wait, so not all taco bases are citrus?! Tactical Tacos knows how to do taco sauce right with their notes of orange, lime, and cilantro to start your bite out just right, followed up with a perfect hint of Jalapeno and Cayenne pepper in the background. That’s just their mild sauce, Snafu. The Fire Fight and Ghost Protocol give you a similar ride with the citrus kick but with a much bigger spice hit for those that are brave enough to try it out!

MOLE

Mole is a spicy-and-sweet sauce made from chocolate that translates. The dark brown sauce gets its heat from chiles, but also has a touch of sweetness from the cacao, almonds, and peanuts often added. The sauce is topped with sesame seeds.

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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

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?

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