Marco Antonio Regil's Latino Activism

by Karen Leibowitz

Marco Antonio Regil, a popular Mexican game show host, was surrounded by the meat-filled culture of northern Mexico and southern California for the majority of his life but became vegan seven years ago after watching the documentary Glass Walls. Marco has been making a huge impact in the vegetarian/vegan movement, particularly for Latino populations. After becoming vegan, he helped co-create a division of PETA called Latino PETA because he believed more Spanish speakers needed to have access to information about animal rights. He helped PETA understand Latino culture, and he dubbed the voice of Paul McCartney in Spanish for Glass Walls. He is now working on a series of videos, including how to shop for vegan groceries and making vegan accommodations for family events, something that Marco deals with frequently. It's very common to use lard and meat in Mexican cooking. At family reunions, Marco brings vegan alternatives to Mexican staples, and his family can't believe the dishes don't include dairy or lard because they taste better than their conventional counterparts!

Marco says some of the main barriers in Latino culture to making the switch to veganism are lack of awareness and the perceived stigma associated with veganism. Especially for men, the stereotype of meat-eating being macho persists. However, Marco observes that, "More people are realizing the enormous cruelty to animals in the process of becoming food." He notes that Mexico has vegan "restaurants popping up everywhere," from a street vegan taqueria to restaurants offering vegan chillaquiles. He also sees activism in Mexico with organizations such as Anima Naturalis, which has helped ban animal circuses in 13 states, including Mexico City.

Marco is active on social media and has more than 1 million followers on Facebook. He believes social media is an amazing tool for him to promote the advantages of a vegan lifestyle, share meal ideas, and post opportunities to get involved in stopping animal cruelty. He encourages people to note how they feel after they eat vegan foods compared to their non-vegan counterparts. "There is a big difference between eating a cinnamon roll that is vegan and one that has dairy." He also notices that some people think eating vegan is more expensive, but as a former carnivore he contends there is money saved after making the switch. When he first became vegan, his diet consisted of veggie patties, beans, quinoa, vegan cheese, coconut bacon with salads, and other vegan 'substitutes.' Today he eats mostly fruit, vegetables, and hardly any processed foods. He says fruit is sold in Mexico abundantly and on every street corner, which is convenient because it is an important part of a healthy vegan diet.

Not only does Marco set an example by following a vegan diet, but also by actively spreading information about the benefits of going vegan and the impact people can have by avoiding animal products.

Thank you to Karen Leibowitz for brining knowledge of her Mexican culture to VRG outreach.