When I first moved to Mexico a decade ago, I wasn’t vegetarian or vegan, I still ate chicken, dairy and fish. As I began to see that there was a lack of empathy ingrained in the Mexican culture towards dogs, cats and other animals, I began to question many things, including my ownMexican upbringing and the process of cultural and societal conditioning that happens to us at a young age. As I was becoming a certified health coach, I learned to question the hidden processes in the food industry to make a profit.
The more I learned, the more it seemed surreal that so many of us have been blinded to the horrible reality of large scale animal agriculture, not to mention all of the chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics that are being used to raise animals ; and yes, this happens in Mexico, too. On top of that, it just so happens that we’re creating mass destruction of the planet to satisfy our taste for steak and tacos.
Fortunately, in a country in love with their meat-filled Mexican dishes, just in the last few years there has been a noticeable increase in veggie-focused restaurants and businesses. Interestingly, these businesses are mostly owned by Mexican nationals. It seems many are returning to what the indigenous ate before the Spanish colonization of the 16th century which was a lifestyle mostly comprised of whole, plant foods – corn, beans, squash, amaranth, chia, avocados, tomatoes, tomatillos, cacao, vanilla, agave, turkey, spirulina, sweet potato, cactus, and chili pepper. It wasn’t until the Europeans arrived and conquered that they brought over domesticated animals such as cows, pigs, goats, chicken and sheep. Since then, it’s been hundreds of years of ingrained cultural habit.
You’ll now see a surge of vendors and restaurants offering variations of tacos de yaca (or jackfruit in English), and many other plant-based creations. It seems that many Mexicans and people in general are starting to understand that we can mitigate grave health problems, animal cruelty and destructive environmental impact simply by what we choose to put on our plate. And that’s quite a mouthful to enjoy.