A little over a month ago, The Self-Hating Vegan (Nico, that is) visited a small festival that was organized to celebrate World Vegetarian Day in the Parque Bicentenario. The event was put on by the Gran Fraternidad Universal (GFU – or Great Universal Brotherhood) and included the participation of various vegetarian food stands and animal activist performances by students at the CENAR.
Both Mile Time and Sol y Luna, whose owners are part of the GFU network, had booths at the festival and offered free samples to visitors. I learned that day that Mile Time, a Taiwanese vegetarian restaurant, makes its own vegetarian “meat” in-house -a very pleasant surprise, though I totally spaced on asking them whether it’s vegan or not. Up until then I had thought that they imported all their “ham” and “steaks” and whatnot.
To be real, there were very few options that weren’t made primarily out of carbohydrates and sugar at the event, but if you’re going to transgress, Mile Time’s noodles and dumplings are very good, as is Sol y Luna’s hummus and salad. There was also a small stand of pan dulce (baked goods) made by someone from the GFU network, but I’m not sure who baked them exactly.
Students from the CENAR also participated in the event with two living statue performances highlighting the cruelty of meat consumption. Personally, I find their efforts particularly laudable since animal rights activism has a very low profile in El Salvador. Specifically, animal activism that educates the public about the suffering of domesticated animals in particular is rarely seen in our country, and even less so through a performance-based approach. Congratulations to the CENAR students for touching on issues that are rarely addressed in our society, and for their work in designing and performing living statues under the hot afternoon sun for hours.
What I loved about the event was the relaxed family atmosphere that it created. All sorts of people turned up- those who were simply interested in vegetarianism, as well as those who have abstained from eating meat for years, along with folks who were just passing by enjoying a Saturday afternoon in the park. I had one of the most relaxed and decent chats I’ve had in years about veganism with two young omnivores who were interested in vegetarianism at the event. They asked me sincere and friendly questions about the viability of a vegan diet in practical and economic terms without feeling the need to be facetious about it. I chalk this up in large part to the day’s congenial and comfortable atmosphere, so congratulations again to the organizers for creating a space that celebrated both animal life and the pleasure of enjoying good food while building community.