Supporter story: Juliana Torres

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Juliana, 23, lives in Calgary, Canada. She recently completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and is now pursuing a CPA designation, hoping that one day she can use her accounting qualifications to help others and positively impact the community where she lives. Juliana loves playing sports, in particular football/soccer, and enjoys cooking for others, bringing people together through food.

When did you start Meat Free Monday?
I started about 7 months ago while being on an exchange in Copenhagen.

Where did you hear about the campaign?
During my exchange I met the campaign manager of Meatless Monday in Copenhagen.

What motivated you to support Meat Free Monday?
David, that’s his name, is very passionate about the campaign and inspired me in many ways. I think it was a mix of being really interested and attracted to his passion and being open minded about the idea of eating meatless once a week. Before I met David, I had already met a number of vegan/vegetarian people, but had never heard of Meatless Mondays/Meat Free Monday. I had never really contemplated the possibility of eating meatless. Whenever I thought about it, I just didn’t see myself not eating meat with my meals – even though I was never a super big meat eater.

Being on exchange, you are so opened to new things, new people, and new cultures. When I met David and his circle of friends I got really inspired. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to figure out how I could make a difference in the world, and realised that I didn’t know where to start because I had never cared about being informed. I never really cared or even thought about the impact that eating meat had, not only on the environment but also all the suffering that animals have to go through. One of the things that really got me thinking about Meat Free Mondays is how it’s an easy step towards changing my eating habits, having a healthier lifestyle and having a positive impact in the world.

Do you do any preparation before Monday each week, if so what?
Every Sunday night I sit on my bed and I choose a recipe from one of my vegan/vegetarian recipe books. I pick whatever catches my eye no matter how long it takes, or whether I have the ingredients or not. In fact, every Monday before I cook I make myself a list and I go shopping for the ingredients that I need. It’s actually so much fun! That’s another reason why I love my Meat Free Mondays. It’s the one day that gets to be different. I walk away from my weekly routine and I take my sweet time to shop and cook some delicious meals. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed eating this much, and my family actually likes it too. Everyone knows Mondays are meatless and they are all curious about what I’ll be surprising them with. I think the second best part is seeing how much they enjoy the food.

What’s your favourite meat free dish?
I don’t think I have eaten a single bad meatless dish. However, I think the one I love the most is Eggplant Lasagna. Although, last Monday I prepared ‘Baja Style Grilled Tempeh Tacos’ which made it to the top of the list.   

How have you found eating out? Are there any places near you which offer good meat free options on Mondays?
Usually I don’t eat out on Mondays just because that’s when I get to cook at home. Yet I have been pretty impressed at the meatless options out there. Maybe I didn’t notice them before, or its just starting to become more popular everywhere, but I think almost every restaurant that I’ve been to since I came back from exchange has at least one vegetarian option in the menu. Also, when David and I eat out, we usually look for places using the Happy Cow website. I don’t think we have ever been disappointed.

How have friends, family and colleagues responded to you doing Meat Free Monday?
At first my family and friends were really surprised. My family has been really supportive. They respect my choice of eating or not eating meat and have been open to sharing Meat Free Mondays with me – at least at dinnertime. My friends have also been supportive, some more interested than others. I don’t blame them; I went through the same thing. I just hope to one day I get to inspire someone much like David has inspired me so far!

What resources (cookbooks/guides/websites) have you found useful?
I have a cookbook called Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and another vegetarian cookbook. And as I mentioned earlier, the Happy Cow website when eating out.

Do you have any tips for people considering Meat Free Monday?
Have an open mind and try to talk to those who are already doing it. That has been very helpful for me.

If you could sum up your Meat Free Monday experience so far in one sentence, what would it be?
Food has never tasted better.

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