I’ve often said: “I’m so glad I’m living in Boston now that I’m vegan. I can’t imagine what it would have been like, growing up vegan in Puerto Rico.”
We moved to the island when I was about 2 ⅕, to be closer to my Dad’s family. My mom was a vegetarian and so my brother and I were raised to not eat meat. We often faced difficulty with the family and friends not understanding, saying things like: “How will you get your protein?” “What do you eat, salad?” “That’s why your brother is so skinny!” and my personal favorite “But, you eat chicken, right?”. More than once, my brother and I were chastised for not eating the meat on our plate in the cafeteria at school. Both our parents had to come and explain that we weren’t being spoiled or picky, we just didn’t eat meat on principle! It can be hard for adults to understand that children can have principles or opinions, but in my experience kids often have a stronger sense of right and wrong than many adults, if you only give them the opportunity to learn. Facing so much opposition from others, as a child I decided to learn. I liked to debate and to debate I needed the facts. I did my research on how a vegetarian diet can be healthy and balanced, perhaps more so than that of meat-eaters. With time, it got easier. More people understood, more places offered vegetarian options.
Time passed and became an adult. I began to learn about the reasons for following a vegan diet. I tried going vegan one summer and found it really difficult. I couldn’t find a good, fulfilling vegan meal at any restaurant. I gave up. A few years later I decided to become vegan again. This time, I’ve done my research on vegan foods and I’ve learned a lot more about eating vegan in different occasions.
Recently, I went to visit my family for the holidays. And, what did I realize? There are so many more options than thought! I found an app (HappyCow) that lists vegetarian restaurants and restaurants with a vegan options and allows you to save them. I learned how to order and eat at my favorite restaurants. For this reason, I’m creating a section on eating vegan in Puerto Rico!