Meat-Loving Argentina Gets Its First Vegan Grocery Store

Steak to Argentines is like pizza to Americans. That is to say, Argentina loves steak so much it’s regularly one of the top five meat consumers of the world. In the 1990s, Argentina’s then-President Carlos Menem even told a United States magazine, “Tell your readers, ‘Don’t come to my country if they’re vegetarian.’” But in a country where churrasquerias are run rodízio style – meaning you can stuff yourself silly with meat – it’s not surprising Menem once uttered those words. What may come as a shocker is that in Cordoba, Argentina, MA Market is billing itself as the first vegan grocery store in all of Latin America.

Ariel Mansilla profiled the supermarket for TV 10 Cordoba and showed off vegan chocolates, empanadas, pasta. MA Market opened on August 1 to coincide with el Día de la Pachamama. In an interview with Pulxo 95.1, a woman tied to the store and simply identified as Natalia said that physical vegan grocery stores don’t really exist. However, she acknowledged that across Latin America, people have turned to the Internet for their vegan fix. Mexico’s Vegan Label, for example, delivers across the country.

Argentina isn’t abandoning its meat-eating ways, of course. But there have been moves in recent years to accommodate those who prefer a greener lifestyle. In December 2015, Senator María Magdalena Odarda talked about looking to include vegan food options in schools and other government-owned institutions.

And then, there was that time that an Argentine stadium went meat-free for Paul McCartney. During the Beatle’s first visit to Estadio Mario Kempes de Córdoba in May, McCartney requested that no one serve meat or meat-based products at the venue. That’s when butcher Pablo Marcelo Arana – who had already created the Paul Mac Carne before the concert – created a vegan choripán.

“It’s a vegan chori,” he said, according to Clarín. “We prepared it with eggplant, zucchini, and other vegetables. The truth is that it’s really good and they end up being very delicious. They’re wrapped in an artificial meat casing that, in reality, is what we use now.”

While this new market may delight Paul McCartney, not everyone is a fan.