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▶Meat-Free Mexican Restaurants on the Rise in the US (2019-12-16)
Jose and Leticia Gamiz received many insults when they first opened their mobile Mexican food business four years ago.
Their business, called Mi Vegana Madre, is entirely vegan. In other words, they only serve food made from plants.
“That’s not real Mexican food,” some people said. “My grandma would slap you” was another comment.
“We even had somebody write (online) in Spanish, ‘They’re probably not even Mexican,’” Jose Gamiz told the Associated Press.
But even so, the couple’s meat- and dairy-free business has built a following. And, it is part of a growing vegan Mexican food industry in the United States.
In cities like Las Vegas, Nevada, and Austin, Texas, at least a few eateries or food trucks sell entirely vegan Mexican meals. Across Southern California, there are many choices, including a place that sells traditional sweets that do not contain dairy.
Mi Vegana Madre is based near Phoenix, Arizona. It expanded into a physical restaurant last year. It offers vegan versions of carne asada, al pastor and nachos -- made with a nut-based sauce that tastes like cheese.
Not far from Mi Vegana Madre, another restaurant offering vegan Mexican food opened in January. In September, a third vegan Mexican place opened in Phoenix.
Nineteen-year-old Keren Aguilar and her sister, Keyla Aguilar, 22, opened Earth Plant Based Cuisine, also in Phoenix. Other family members, including their mother, also work there.
The sisters and their parents have eaten only vegan for nearly five years. It was Keren’s dream to open a vegan restaurant. Luckily, a space became available and a family friend was willing to be a financial partner.
Most American vegan restaurants offer a few basic Mexican-influenced foods. But the Gamiz and Aguilar families are trying to include all kinds of the foods that they grew up eating.
“We didn’t want it to have a ‘vegan taste’ or be bland…So our spices are very important to making it Mexican,” Keren Aguilar said.
Gustavo Arellano is a Los Angeles-based reporter. He wrote a book called “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.” He says restaurants like Earth Plant Based Cuisine are bringing traditional methods to the increasingly popular plant-based diet.
[October 28, 2019]