By Anthony Martinez
Casa Vegana de la Comunidad (Casa Vegana) is the only organization of its kind in Puerto Rico. Our mission is to “Provide free education, orientation, and guidance about veganism in Puerto Rico and to the worldwide Spanish-speaking community, via digital, in-person, and printed modes of communication, among others.”
We conduct approximately eight virtual activities a month, including educational workshops, cooking demos with local vegan cooks and chefs, and open discussion forums. One is dedicated exclusively to Latino vegan men discussing our transition, challenges, and victories, in hopes to create more visibility for vegan men, therefore establishing a stronger sense of community.
We also educate by setting up an inviting booth with literature in English and Spanish at a prominent weekly farmers’ market in Old San Juan. We sell veggie burgers made by an amazing plant-based local chef named Julie Mercado and other local vegan businesses. These foods keep people sticking around while we educate them on how they won’t be missing out on anything when going vegan.
We are aspiring towards the creation of a fully plant-based crisis center in the San Juan area. Being of Puerto Rican heritage, I am proud to work with my people, opening their hearts to veganism so they see this not as a fad but a beautiful lifestyle that complements our culture. We must be empathetic when people expose the economic obstacles they are facing and focus on changing paradigms.
Puerto Ricans have been in a constant state of crisis for the past five years due to political corruption and turmoil, as well as natural disasters. It may be a challenge, but we must be empathetic when people expose the economic obstacles they are facing.
So we focus on changing paradigms. With a whole-food plant-based lifestyle, families will enjoy the immediate benefits of food that is easier to digest. They may experience fewer health ailments, invest more money back into local economies, and enjoy the quality family time spent together.
Anthony Martinez got a second chance at life after getting clean in 2007. Part of his process was going plant-based to heal some ailments. After visiting a sanctuary, he became vegan and an advocate for the animals. For the full article from which this blog post is excerpted, see the current issue of American Vegan magazine (subscribe here).