On Sept 20th, 2017, Maria hit my beautiful island. As I was preparing before the hurricane hit us, I kept thinking how veganism is the way to go. I looked around the supermarket wondering why people would get stacks of meat when power would be possibly be out for a while. I didn’t know it then, but for me, that would be the case for 60 days.
I’m a vegan in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico was a beautiful island, and we’re still recovering. I originally wrote this article maybe a week after the storms — two category 5 hurricanes. Irma came very close to the island days before Maria and caused minor damages, but they were so recent that when Maria came, they became almost permanent. I had to write this article in the morning while watching my son playing, having no idea of how we were struggling inside our minds.
When I wrote this I was thinking about food, because we vegans are obsessed over food, right? How can a vegan survive without power? How did we manage to eat and feel good every single day during this emergency?
For the first days, we had dry and hot cereal. Tons of canned beans that fed everyone, including my mini vegan. We had lentil chips and other shelf-stable foods that got us by. I made hummus with a mortar and pestle; it was chunky, yet delicious. We discovered that soy milk doesn’t go bad in a 24-hour period without being refrigerated. We drank tons of it to make sure nothing went bad. We didn’t have power or ice. Ice was scarce since the first hurricane came. I had vital wheat gluten flour and made seitan in small portions, what I knew we could eat during the day. Flours in general became very useful, I could prepare pancakes for everyone or chickpea omelettes with my super-improvised Girl Scout kitchen.
Since we were well prepared, we had potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados and other fresh foods that could sit on the counter without issues. Everything had to be cooked for the day. No way to store anything. We were lucky and we got to eat a pretty balanced diet.
With everything that is going on in terms of global warming and how the planet is reacting, thinking about our food and how we survived, I can assure you that vegan is the way to go!
Cindy Lou Negrón, VLCE, is the owner of Veganizalo a small local business that sells vegan comfort food. As a Main Street Vegan Academy-certified vegan educator, she gives workshops, demos, and attend fairs, veganizes Puerto Rico’s local recipes on her YouTube channel. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.