Updated September 17, 2019 | Argentina has long been famous for its meat-centric cuisine. But in the capital city of Buenos Aires, more individuals are gravitating towards plant-based food.
British newspaper the Independent reports that the nation’s capital is now home to over 60 vegetarian and vegan restaurants, with many more offering either a separate plant-based menu or select vegan dishes.
The shift is surprising to some, considering that beef is a classic Argentinian ingredient. The country is even known as the second-largest beef-eating nation in the world, behind Uruguay. Argentine asado, or barbecued meat, a staple and is a dish that many tourists are eager to seek out. Puchero, a meaty stew, and choripan con chimichurri, grilled sausage rolls with garlic sauce, are also firm favorites.
A recent survey found that 60 percent of Argentinians may reduce or eliminate beef altogether, in a figure “that alarmed ranchers who are already struggling through an economic crisis,” the Record Online reports.
The shift towards more vegan and vegetarian foods within the city has not gone unnoticed, especially by those working in the city’s meat-free restaurant scene. Vanina Compagnet, the owner of Buenos Aires vegan steakhouse, La Reverde Parillita Vegana, said, “The meat culture in Argentina is still really strong. But veganism is on the rise. Each year more and more people are starting to see animals differently. It’s slow progress, though it’s exciting for us nonetheless.”
Vegan Celebrities Help the Trend
Vegan Argentinian celebrities could be helping to lead the trend, with national team footballers Lionel Messi, considered one of the best in the world, and Sergio Agüero following plant-based diets to stay in peak condition.
“In recent years, veganism and vegetarianism have become more commonplace,” said Claudia Carrara, the founder of the first organic cafe in the city, Bio. “I think it’s partly because people are becoming more aware of the suffering of animals, but also the health benefits – high performing athletes are turning towards a plant-based diet – and there are now doctors who recommend this kind of lifestyle.”
The Argentinian presidential house, Casa Rosada, is also championing meat-free living, with its new meat-free Monday initiative introduced earlier this year. Under instruction from the president, the entire presidential office menu is vegan on a Monday, with no exceptions. “That way, people didn’t have the chance to say, ‘I won’t go for the vegan option today,'” said head chef Dante Liporace.
Argentina isn’t the only South American country embracing veganism; across Brazil, the movement is gaining pace. For the first time in history, in 2019, all the schools in four northeastern cities in Bahia will go completely plant-based.