International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

IVU News

Vegetarianism in Latin America
IVU News 2-97

One of the challenges faced by the International Vegetarian Union is how to promote the growth of vegetarianism in Latin America, where the lack of organised vegetarian groups is difficult to understand in view of the strong economic and cultural links with North America and Europe and the number of vegetarian restaurants and health shops in Central and South America.


cartoon The IVU member organisation Naturaleza is now approaching its tenth anniversary and continues to publish excellent articles on vegan and animal issues. Copies of the magazine are supplied to the principal radio station and the department of bio-ethics at the university. Schools frequently ask for material on ecology and related subjects and the group does its best to help. Free lunches are also provided for people without the means to buy them.

The Spanish Vegan Society magazine Veganismo is much appreciated as publications in Spanish on these topics are few and far between. As a large proportion of the population read only Spanish, translation of material originally published in English forms an important part of Naturaleza's work. In this context, new or second-hand books, magazines, videos etc. are always gratefully received. [Address: Naturaleza, Moreno 2550, 7e H, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina.]


There is a growing interest in vegetarianism and in health and ethical issues and Veganismo has reached a number of professional people who have contacted the Spanish Vegan Society (AVE) and expressed their interest. Again, there is a financial problem in obtaining material and a number of individuals have received books and magazines from abroad which have been greatly appreciated.


In Guayaquil, Trato Etico a los Animales (TEA) is campaigning against cruelty to animals and promoting vegetarianism. The groups president, Luis Escala Castro a member of AVE is in close contact with the Spanish society and has expressed an interest in joining and working with the IVU to promote vegetarianism in Latin America. [Address: TEA, P. O. Box 09-06-249, Guayaquil, Ecuador.]

Latin America project

photo An outreach project jointly funded by the Vegetarian Resource Group and the IVU found a reasonable number of vegetarian restaurants and an interest in vegetarianism in Latin America, mostly oriented towards health and religious concerns.

Fannie Fonseca, a vegetarian dietician and the original volunteer in researching a guide to vegetarian resources in Latin America, mailed more than 500 requests for information to restaurants, health food businesses and individuals in most countries in Latin America. The 12 per cent. of replies that she received were included in the first edition of the guide. While visiting her home country of Colombia she also obtained a 270-page guide to natural resources after approaching various restaurant owners.

Subsequently, the directors of the VRG, Charles Stahler and Debra Wasserman, together with a small group of Latin health volunteers, have established new contacts with other vegetarian businesses and hope to produce future editions of the guide covering the whole of Latin America. Two Spanish brochures have been produced for distribution to health professionals, consumers and Spanish-speaking groups within the United States, Puerto Rico and other Latin countries, as well as a third brochure for teenagers. While visiting a book fair in Monterrey, Mexico, Charles and Debra saw many vegetarian and new age books which seemed to have been translated from American or European originals. They discovered that much of the promotion of vegetarianism was done by Gran Fraternidad Universal, an international organisation which has links with restaurants and food companies and runs a school in Monterrey.

Nevertheless, the Latin American scene generally shows a lack of strong vegetarian, environmental or animal rights groups of the kind found in North America and Europe. However, some groups do exist and in view of the current social and economic climate and the increasing speed of communications we may soon see a higher level of activity in this respect and, hopefully, the establishment of strong vegetarian societies throughout Latin America.

[Anyone interested in forming/joining a vegetarian society in Central or South America may also contact the IVU for information. Relevant material in Spanish (and Portuguese) can be found on the IVU website ( and on the pages produced by the Spanish Vegan Society (AVE), accesssed through the IVU pages ( Details of the outreach project may be obtained from the Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore MD 21203, USA (e-mail: The VRGs world wide web page is:]

Contributions to IVU News are welcomed. Material published does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or the policy of the International Vegetarian Union.