Cinthya Gomez only recently became vegan last year – June 15, 2016, to be exact. Since then, Gomez has been perfecting different recipes and learning how to make vegan versions for the Mexican comfort foods she grew up loving.
Now, Gomez didn’t initially become vegan to become vegan. She kind of experienced what many young people have learned: she was low on funds and meat was expensive. So, Gomez decided to give part-time veganism a try and now she has her own booths in vegan street fairs. Gomez spoke with mitú about vegan misconceptions, and why she decided to take her vegan lifestyle and turn it into a business.
Cinthya Gomez struggled to find good vegan Mexican food recipes. So she did the next best thing: she launched her own vegan Mexican food business.
@veganstreetfair was awesome!! Thank you to everybody that stopped by! This was my first huge event. I didn't get to post updates because I was so busy, I didn't even take a break to try the other delicious plates. My hands are still burning from deveining all of the chiles for the mole lol. I am looking forward to bringing ya'll more bomb food in the coming months. ??❤️? I will announce the 3 swag bag winners later on today so if you have pics from yesterday make sure to post and tag @mexvegana_ ! #mexicanvegan #veganmexican #plantbased #vegan
“When I transitioned [to vegan] I couldn’t find any legit vegan Mexican recipes. I would Google or YouTube recipes and I would find whitewashed meals that weren’t really Mexican. I would crave my chilaquiles, enchiladas, chile rellenos – all of these things, but I couldn’t find any authentic recipes,” Gomez told mitú. “So, I decided to start making my own recipes and decided to start selling them so people could see that there is bomb vegan Mexican food.”
Gomez’s transition to veganism was gradual and it all started because she was on a tight budget.
Gomez told mitú that she first started to explore vegan food when she moved out of her parents’ house and started living on her own. She says that meat was just too expensive for her to afford for regular meals. She first started to explore how she could combine beans, greens, vegetables, and fruits to get her full nutrition on a budget. That was three years ago and since that time, Gomez has expanded her cooking skills to start creating vegan takes on Mexican comfort food.
Gomez told mitú that one of the biggest misconceptions that she hears about being vegan is that it’s expensive.
“Unless you want the high-end products, it’s super cheap because you aren’t spending money on meat and you don’t spend time cooking it,” Gomez told mitú about the financial benefits to cutting out animal products. “Greens, veggies, and fruits are not that expensive. If you are informed on where to buy these items, you can save even more money. You don’t have to go to Whole Foods to be a vegan. As long as it’s animal free, you’re doing it right.”
As for her family’s reaction to ditching animal products, it took some getting used to.
Gomez told mitú that her family is skeptical about what it means to be vegan. Gomez said that her family reacted like “typical Latino families” and got concerned if she would get all the nutrients she needs since they don’t know what she is going to eat. The real challenge, Gomez said, was her first Thanksgiving as a vegan. Gomez was left eating just rice, she told mitú, because that was the only vegan thing offered by her family at Thanksgiving dinner.
But her vegan take on Mexican staples has caught the attention of others in the Mexican and vegan communities.
Mexvegana has been asked to be the vendor of vegan conchas at the upcoming Concha Con hosted by Shop Latinx happening in Downey, Calif.
“Apparently, a bunch of people suggested me to be [Concha Con’s] vegan concha vendor,” Gomez recalled to mitú. “They were like, ‘Oh, we have to have Mexvegana. She has the best Mexican vegan conchas.’ Just knowing that they thought about me like that when they could have another, more famous, vegan concha vendor but they wanted me. That hits the heart.”
She says she feels very supported by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who enjoy her food.
Gomez has been part of bigger food events, including Vegan Street Fair. During her participation, she said that some customers who made their way to her truck brought their parents who were not into the whole vegan thing (yet). However, after their parents had some of Gomez’s gorditas and enchiladas de mole, they changed their tune about vegan food.
Gomez credits her drive to create Mexvegana, to her motivation to be visible and outspoken as an undocumented person.
“I kind of wanted to prove to people that I’m a hard worker and, with the whole Trump thing that’s going on, there’s this idea that I’m going to be in hiding. There’s this idea that as undocumented people, because we don’t have papers, should be in the shadows and I shouldn’t be trying to start my own company because that will give me a little more notoriety in terms of the IRS. I pay all of my taxes,” Gomez told mitú. “Just because I am undocumented doesn’t mean that I’m not going to say what I need to say. That goes for veganism as well. I’m going to try to reach as many people as I can.”
Gomez knows that going vegan is a serious commitment but she wants people to know that being vegan doesn’t mean you are just eating raw vegetables.
“Vegan food is bomb,” Gomez told mitú. “Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you have to be a raw vegan and just eat salads and veggies. No. There’s other food out there. You just need to look for it.”
As for her favorite vegan recipe, Gomez said it would have to be licuado de mamey.
“I love food and I love any of my recipes. Now that summer is coming up, licuado de mamey is so delicious,” Gomez raved. “A lot of people haven’t tried mamey so I would say that is my favorite just because it’s super easy to make and even though sometimes mamey isn’t fresh, they do sell it frozen.”