Becoming a Vegan Latina

Aug 16, 10 Becoming a Vegan Latina

How to become a Latina veganSo you’ve switched to eco-friendly cleaning products, organic cotton linens, and you buy your produce and home-made jam at Saturday farmer’s markets while using your reusable tote to carry them as you bike home. Yet you still think a vegan Latina is as much of an oxymoron as alcoholic-free beer. It’s hard to imagine mami’s finger-licking good bistec encebollado being anything but meat, huh? For Latinos, food is at the epicenter of our family, culture and traditions. But there is no denying how much fat, oil, and salt are overly used to make it that irresistible. Sadly, these are some of the leading causes for serious health concerns among the Latino community. Don’t fret ladies! Terry Romero, author of Viva Vegan! has made it fun and easy to take the vegan plunge while still staying true to your Latino roots in the kitchen. Check out Terry’s advice on where to begin:

1. Once you decide you want to start being healthier and trying to cook sans meat/animal products, what is the best place to begin?

There’s no one solution for everyone, so I recommend being totally honest with yourself and what you’re willing to take on when making a big change like going vegan. [Stick] to what is most convenient for you: if you cook frequently and love to go food shopping, try out recipes that excite you or remind you of the meals you love. If you’re just starting out with home cooking AND going vegan, keep it simple. Dedicate one or two nights a week to planning a tasty meal, and definitely treat yourself to something you really love be it a decadent dessert or purchasing a good chef’s knife for cutting all those exciting new vegetables.

2. What is one easy-to-make Latino dish that anyone (with any kind of cooking experience) can try out to begin with?

It’s summer so I’m going to say salad, since it’s relatively fast and refreshing and always a popular choice when the hot weather isn’t cooperating with cooking in the kitchen. My Latino themed salads use ingredients like chayote squash, corn, quinoa, black beans and of course plenty of avocado.

3. What would you say is the hardest ingredient to let go off and what can we replace it with?

I hear time and time again how much someone considering being vegan would miss cheese. It’s still a fairly complicated thing to replace but it can be worked around taking into account what kind of meal you’re preparing. “Cremes” made from pine nuts or cashews can provide a silky richness, while sometimes silken tofu pureed, seasoned with care and baked can replace other cheese-like textures.

Check out Terry’s book, Viva Vegan!, for recipes, tips, and even an ingredient list that will have your cupboards ready to handle any meal – without hurting our furry friends!

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