August 28th, 2016
Before this year I hadn’t given veganism much thought. While I’m not a huge meat eater, I consume quite a lot of milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and honey – animal products that are essentially forbidden if you adopt a vegan diet. I especially love milk. Growing up, we always, ALWAYS had a four litre jug of 1% milk in the house. It goes so well with cereal, with cookies, with coffee… it is an essential part of my diet. For that fact alone, going vegan was never an option I considered.
In February I met Brittany, a university exchange student from California. She is vegan, and she taught me how to make nut milk, which was surprisingly easy and delicious. We had a number of conversations about veganism and I started to think about it.
A couple of months later I heard a podcast about Esther the Wonder Pig, a pet “micro-pig” that turned out to be a full sized (650 lbs) commercial pet pig. She has an instagram account and her “parents” wrote a book about their experience with Esther and opening an animal sanctuary. It is just wonderful and I highly recommend it.
Steve and Derek were not vegans or vegetarians before they adopted Esther. But loving her as a pet completely turned them off eating pork, and gradually other animals and animal products.
I laughed out loud when I read this part, in which Steve talks about the decision to go vegan:
“If I can’t eat meat, what will I eat? I hate salad. I hate weird vegetables, which to me is most of them. What was left? Was I going to be stuck with seeds and nuts? Would Derek come home one day to find I had morphed into a bird?”
But at this point, things started sinking in.
“I’d always pictured milking a cow as happening on some beautiful farm on a lovely green pasture among rolling hills. Some sweet little girl with pigtails heads out with a bucket to milk ‘ol Bessie. Poor ‘ol Bessie probably wants to be milked. She’s happy to provide milk for the family, and they love her for it. That’s the story of milk, right?”
*Sigh*. Maybe that was the story of milk for some people, at some point in time. But I don’t think it is today. It made me think about the animal product industries and what I want to support/not support.
In June I met Erna through a Facebook Group for Expats; she is from Kosovo and has lived in Brazil for the past four years. She and I have been spending lots of time together, talking about our interests and passions – namely, vegan cooking and baking! Erna makes amazing hummus, and I love to experiment in vegan baking. When we decided to start selling our products, “Vegan Gringas” was born. (Gringa is a term for a female foreigner in Brazil) Although Erna and I are not 100% vegan, we embrace the philosophy of veganism – to promote ecological and kind environmental and animal practices.
We’ve started selling our goodies at different feiras(markets) which has been a lot of fun. It’s a wonderful way to build community and meet interesting people!
To me, being a vegan isn’t about giving up every animal product forever. To me it’s a philosophy; a school of thought that says “By not eating animal products I am fighting for a healthier, kinder world.” If we all moved towards a more vegan lifestyle, we would be helping the environment and saying no to unfair living conditions for animals raised for meat/milk/eggs etc. Each time I choose a vegan meal or recipe, I feel like I’m helping the world if only by a tiny amount. I’m also helping myself to stay healthy by eating more plant based foods.
Our goal with “Vegan Gringas” is to spread this message. We make and sell yummy vegan food in the hopes of raising awareness, starting conversations and forming community based on this idea. We would also love to sell natural homemade home and body products like soap, shampoo, detergents, etc.
We encourage others to join us. If you want to make and sell things at the Feirinhas with us, do it! (You don’t have to be a vegan or a gringa) Liking and sharing our posts on Facebook/Instagram is also helpful.
This is about doing something we love(baking, cooking, creating) and sharing it with others in a positive, collective way, in the hope that we can make our world a better place.
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs
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