This week, I want talk about something that I mentioned briefly in my blog post titled “Politics in Buenos Aires” Veganism can be a sensitive and controversial topic, especially in environments in which animal products are accepted, traditional, and even culturally significant parts of the diet. This is the case in many Latin American countries, where meat is served in almost every dish.
what is veganism?
I’ve been a vegetarian for about 5 years and I transitioned to vegan about 6 months ago. Many may believe that vegans are vegans because they are against the killing of animals, but it’s not as simple as that. Veganism is a way of life, a movement, and an act of protest. Being vegan is much more than cutting out milk, cheese, eggs, and meat from your diet. It also includes the clothes you buy, the products you use, the places you go, and more.
My decision to become vegan was influenced by research on factory farming and its effects on the animals, the environment, and even humans. Almost everybody has grown up consuming animal products. It’s something that many people (including myself at one point) don’t think twice about. However, very few take the time to find out how those products get to their plate and the consequences.
If you would like to learn more about the harmful effects of factory farming, animal testing, and many other forms of animal cruelty, visit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – there are many sections to read about on this page and throughout the entire website! Additional information can be found at Farm Sanctuary and The Vegan Society.
being vegan in buenos aires – is it possible?
Before traveling to Buenos Aires, I was nervous about what I would be eating and if I would be able to continue my vegan diet. I knew very little about veganism in other parts of the world and I expected to face extreme difficulty finding vegan food in the city.
On the first day I arrived, I learned that my roommate, Julieta, a native Argentine, is also vegan. I was not expecting to meet somebody that was vegan so quickly, and I felt relieved to have somebody who could give me advice on what and where to eat in the city. Julieta recommended some stores and restaurants that have vegan options. She also told me that although veganism is on the rise in Buenos Aires, it can still be hard to find places that offer vegan alternatives.
After four weeks living here, it’s clear that the vegan movement is alive in Buenos Aires. Compared to the United States, the availability of vegan food is relatively the same. In the United States, especially in cities like Boston where I live, there are many restaurants that are either exclusively vegan, or that have vegan alternatives. In Buenos Aires, there are also restaurants that are exclusively vegan, such as Veggie Medio Oriente and The Loving Hut, and there are others that have vegetarian/vegan items on the menu.
However, in both the United States and Buenos Aires, it can be difficult to find such places, and often involves doing a bit of research before going out to eat. Even so, I am surprised at the availability of food that is vegan, considering the large prevalence of meat and dairy in the Argentine diet.
Porteños are very political and love to protest. One of the most common forms of protest is street art and graffiti, much of which contains messages about veganism. In the United States, it is rare to see graffiti or street art that opposes animal cruelty and advocates veganism. But here in Buenos Aires, there is no shortage of vegan activism. Seeing messages like “Animales No Comida” (Animals are not food) and “Go Vegan” spray-painted all around the city is striking and inspiring. Not to mention, when I tell native Argentines that I’m vegan, they seem intrigued and tell me that veganism is becoming an increasingly powerful movement among young people in Argentina.
Living in Buenos Aires and experiencing veganism in the city has made me realize that my preconceptions and doubts were entirely false. In a way, veganism is more alive here than anywhere I’ve been in the United States. It may be a little easier to find restaurants and stores with vegan items in the United States, but the voice of the vegan movement in Buenos Aires is loud, bold, and dynamic.
It’s amazing how witnessing and participating in veganism abroad has motivated me to become even more involved in the movement back in my home country. In Buenos Aires, people are not afraid to express themselves and are passionate about what they believe in, qualities that drive the success of social and political movements like veganism.