Culture Clash: Being a Mexican Vegetarian

Alright, guys, I had to do it. I had to dedicate a blog post where I talk about all of the comments and questions I encounter on the daily basis. So, let’s begin with a quick intro. As a Mexican American, I find it that it’s not really a thing to be vegetarian. What I am trying to say is that I am surrounded by meaty meals. When I go to a family party or simply go back home during the weekend, I am slapped with the smell of meat. So yeah, they aren’t used to the whole “oh I don’t eat meat” type of person. Every meal has meat and well it’s a struggle for me to keep up with the whole explanation  of why I don’t eat meat speech.

So let’s get started….

I get this a lot, surprisingly. Many of my family members, well mostly my parents and some friends think that the reason why I turned vegetarian was to lose weight. Yeah, that is not it at all. One of my really good friends mentioned this to me because she wanted to have mariscos (Mexican seafood) and she knew how much I loved shrimp cocktails. But I understand, having a friend that is vegetarian makes it difficult to keep up with and well I had to turn her offer down, “dude I’m vegetarian, I don’t eat animals”. 

This one is for you dad. Chicken is an animal, so no I don’t eat it. It is really common or more likely for me to hear others say that they don’t eat red meat such as pork and beef. One because white meat is known to be healthier and two because it’s bad for you according to my mom, why? I don’t know. But if it once walked the earth flocking its feathers then no, I don’t eat it. 

That also means I can’t eat fish either dad. By the way, you do remember I’m allergic to fish, right? 

It’s hard to explain that once meat has contaminated any dishes I can’t have it anymore. Meaning that if there was meat floating around in the pozole I can’t have it. If a chicken breast was touching my rice I can’t have it. I can go on and on. My plate should always be anti-meat for me, gracias. 
This is similar to the first one. I understand that people might assume that not eating meat is probably a hobby or a phase. Something that I might be over within a few weeks, but that’s not the case. When am I going to stop being vegetarian? You ask. Well, when I’m ready to become vegan. 
Pues comida, que mas? / Well food, what else? People assume I just eat grass, no joke. When I visit my parents they would welcome me with open arms and a big pot of pozole, or any dish that contained meat. Which meant that I had to deny their food and spend hours explaining why. It was if they did not hear anything I said and simply replied with “estas loca / you’re crazy”.  With that phrase came “entonces come sacate / then just eat grass”. These common phrases are no longer foreign to me. 

But my mom soon understood that I was not going to change my habits and so she offered me chiles rellenos for a whole week. Luckily, I love chiles rellenos so that was not a problem for me. Keep them coming madre!
 
 
The Mexican culture is filled with colorful dishes that might not be friendly for vegetarians/vegans. But there are a handful of Mexican vegan restaurants that have recreated these delicious dishes. For example the restaurant Gracias Madre that has two locations in San Francisco and Hollywood. They have a variety of traditional dishes like pozole, enchiladas, and chiles rellenos to name a few. Take a friend or your parents to a vegan restaurant and show them the different dishes they have. Recreate a dish and take it to a family barbecue. 
 
Explaining and introducing new dishes to my family and friends has really helped them understand my new lifestyle. They are now curious of what I eat and always want to try my food! I hope this post helped most of you and remember that not everyone has to eat meat to survive.
 
Stay amazing,
 
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