Family Love: a vegan latina in a meat-eating family

 

The Boo and I went to visit my family a couple of weekends ago. Well, we went to Harry Potter Land aka Universal Studios and also visited my family! A two birds, one crumb kind of situation which always works out great. Universal was not very vegan-friendly, I should write them about that, but my family on the other hand, had prepared a entire vegan brunch for me and The Boo! It was awesome. And this wasn’t no toast and coffee continental breakfast, this was a full on delectable menu: vegan quiche, zucchini pancakes, fresh fruit and of course, mimosas!

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Vegan breakfast courtesy of my godmother, my sista and my Tia!

As I started to think about my next post, my mind immediately went to the kindness and acceptance of my family and how I wanted to share that with others. For me, one of the major reasons that I was hesitant to go vegan was because of the people around me; my social circle. And no matter how far I may live, that will always include my family. And so when I went vegetarian, I got some shit from my family, and still do, but they were accepting. My Tia always making me special dishes without meat and saying “Esto es para la Minina!” and shooing others away who were trying to eat my specially-made dish. My mom stocking her fridge full of veggie treats so that I always had something to eat. At those moments, I felt like my decision was not making me isolated but making me feel more loved by the people that I love most in the world. Through food, they showed me that no matter how out of their comfort zone my decisions were, they would always support me in the ways that they could. And becoming vegan was no different. It took some time to adjust because, like me, it was new to them. But they tried and succeeded at making a delicious vegan meal. I’m part of a family of over-achievers. We don’t do anything at less than 100% and the menu above proves that. They really went above and beyond to make me and The Boo feel at home and loved through what they served us. No judgements and not as an after-thought but as the center of our gathering. It was beautiful and reassuring that my decision was not going to isolate me but bring me closer to those that I love.

I wondered if others were so lucky to have a family who supports your decisions or if I was one of the few.

STORIES OF TRANSITION

Earlier this year, I interviewed some amazing Latina vegans for a blog series, that I hope to finally put up this coming month, and one of the questions I asked was related to this topic: how did your family feel or react to your decision? And to my greatest surprise, all 3 of them said that their families were supportive. Some maybe more than others or supportive in their own ways but none said that their experience was overly negative. I was excited to know that most other folks had had similar experiences to mine, accepting families even at their most uncomfortable. It gave me comfort that brown families were accepting of values different than the ones they grew up with.

But then I had the thought that maybe it was just us 4 but i was wrong because The Boo’s family has been super supportive of his transition into veganism as well. His mom always makes us vegan Mexican dishes like ceviche de tofu, taquitos de papa and even for his birthday that just passed, his sister made him a vegan cheesecake! A vegan cheesecake! She’s a great baker and it was delicious.

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Vegan blueberry cheesecake. YUM!

So I started thinking about how we got so lucky to have families that were so willing to bend over backwards to make sure that we’re being included. And to be honest, I still don’t know. But there are a few things that I have noticed over the years that i think helped with making life transitions easier on ourselves and those we love.

TAKING IT SERIOUSLY

Sometimes I let things slide. Like I’ll eat something even though milk is an ingredient or I wasn’t able to find out if something was made using eggs or milk, just out of either laziness or feeling tired. And what I mean by that is a tiredness of having to say yes or no to something because it may or may not be vegan or honestly sometimes feeling left out of the mix. But those moments are now fewer and farther between because I told myself that if I wanted people to take my new lifestyle seriously, I had to take it seriously. Simple concept, I know, but sometimes common sense isn’t so common. And so when I started taking it more seriously, asking if it was vegan or if there was going to be vegan food, others around me started to take me seriously. At work, for instance, they’ll try and let me know if something isn’t vegan. Same with my friends about something they’ve made because it might have milk or cheese or even whey,  Thanks Boo Boo! So I’ve learned that the stronger you are about asking and saying no when something isn’t vegan, the more likely others will also take a stronger stance on your behalf.

Of course, that’s not a universal thing. There will always be those that like to make fun of you or trick you into eating something that isn’t vegan, yes even in your own family, but I’ve found that those people are rare. And it’s usually about them and not you or your new found way of life.

LATINX FAMILIES!

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me, The Boo and the rest of the fam!

I’m a Latina! Besides being lucky in my good looks and charm, I’m also blessed of having been born in a latinx family. If you can’t tell, I LOVE BEING LATINA! I don’t know about any other families from other backgrounds but Latinx families are super accommodating when it comes to food. In my family, we aren’t happy if everyone isn’t eating or drinking something as soon as they walk in the door. The first thing they say is “que flaca estas. Ahorita te hago algo para comer” and before you can say your not hungry, el pancito is in the toaster and the gallo pinto is in the pan.

My family shows love through food and I feel loved when I’m sitting around the table with my cousins and tias talking politics, literature and the funniest meme they saw on Facebook that morning, it’s not all serious talk, with a plate overflowing with something delicious that my Tia made.  My tia is the cook of the family. She’s even opening her own restaurant, WITH VEGGIE OPTIONS! YAY!

And the same was the case with this last trip back down to SoCal. We weren’t planning on heading to brunch at my godmother’s house but she invited us when she found out we were going to be in town and remembered and planned for  what was one of the best brunches I’ve had in a while because everything was vegan! I felt loved knowing that she, and others, went through the trouble of making something that was out of their comfort but were doing it so that The Boo and I had something to eat. So if you’re reading this, thank you! I appreciate  the support that you all give me so much even when you may think that it’s a little extreme. I feel like having a close family like mine and The Boo’s helped in having made the transition much easier; made the transition not just bearable but joyful. I was able to still partake in one of my greatest joys, eating, while living out my truth: that non-human animals shouldn’t suffer just so that we can eat them.

I tried to find some other stories of people who maybe didn’t have the greatest experience with their families but I couldn’t seem to find them, which may be is a good thing? But what was your vegan transition story like? Or if you’re thinking about living a vegan lifestyle, did this touch on some of your fears? Share your thoughts in the comments section.