Going Vegan Has Never Felt So Good

“I had no intention of moving to vegan,” said ricanvegan.com blogger Desiree Rodriguez. Neither did LovinGreens vegan chef Carolina Quijada or Planted in Miami’s Jeanette Ruiz.

But these former meat-eating millennial Miami Latinas weren’t keen on being sick, either, and they were. Exhausted and hypoglycemic, Caracas-born Quijada became “a different person” after two weeks on a plant-based diet. Like Rodriguez and Ruiz, the mother of twins now radiates health and is a vegan true believer.

 Miami’s vibrant Hispanic community is among the city’s strengths — unless you’re a vegan. And if you’re Hispanic and vegan? Caramba.

“My family is still getting used to the idea,” acknowledged Ruiz, who with husband Alex Ruiz promotes South Florida’s vegan community with Planted in Miami, their podcast series highlighting “thriving on plant-based diets and living a normal and happy life.”

Beats having cancer or heart disease. Latinos statistically have the highest rates for both. The problem lies on the plate.

“Meat—all the time, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s the staple. You put meat in everything you make,” said Rodriguez, who also works at Baptist Health. “I wish there was more awareness for Latins. A lot have the same diseases my family has. It’s so common—I hear them comparing medications. I feel like going vegan is a simple solution—it’s right there.”

Enter LovinGreens. Cordon Bleu-trained Quijada teaches how to make healthier vegan versions of beloved Latino dishes sin carne, sin queso. “It’s all about the spices.”

Now if only Miami’s Latino restaurants would get with the program. “Oh, wow, they have nothing,” said Rodriguez. “They say, ‘What? You don’t want chicken?’”

Added Alex Ruiz: “Too many people think a plate full of veggies won’t taste good.” Vegan yet macho Latino, Ruiz heads the Miami chapter of No Meat Athlete. “Switching to this lifestyle has only helped improve my fitness.”

“It’s crazy, but my soul food now is my green smoothie each morning. The more you get the good stuff in your body, the more you’ll want to eat.”