The Algarve’s Environmental and Vegan Fair (FAVA) is returning for the second year running to Loulé between July 18 and 19 and is being widely praised by Fátima Lourenço, one of the Algarve’s earliest vegans.
Originally from Boliqueime, Fátima, 63, has been following a vegan diet for decades.
It all started when she was 20 and decided to eliminate meat and eggs from her diet.
“I first started as a vegetarian due to my health. I didn’t like meat and I didn’t react well to milk. I later removed fish and eggs from my diet and became vegan,” she told Barlavento newspaper.
Times were different back then and there wasn’t the variety of vegetarian and vegan products that there are today, explains Fátima, who owns her own vegan grocery store, called Veganices, in Tavira.
“There was only soy then. It was very difficult, but I ate the largest variety of vegetables possible. Then many alternatives started to slowly appear. Now I have many recipes.”
Nowadays becoming vegan is as simple as “searching the internet”.
“There are many options. Tofu and seitan can be made a thousand ways,” she says, explaining that, despite all the available information, she is still asked if she “only eats lettuce”.
Later, when her daughters were born, Fátima says she gave them the freedom to choose what to eat and it was their choice to follow the same vegan diet.
But being vegan as a child isn’t easy.
“They’d have trouble at school. I had to speak to the school board several times. My youngest daughter was even criticised,” she said.
Following a vegan diet is also a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly or because “it is in fashion”. Seeing a nutritionist is recommended as is learning how to cook vegan dishes.
But, according to Fátima, veganism is not just about what you eat – it is about caring for the environment and fighting consumerism.
“I don’t use any product that was tested on animals or that is of animal origin, whether it is makeup or any other hygiene product. I don’t use wool clothes, and vegan shoes are starting to be made. I use as little plastic as possible and buy everything in bulk. At home, our energy is provided by solar panels. I only buy something new if I really need it. I recycle everything,” she told the paper.
After so many years following this lifestyle, it is with great joy that Fátima welcomes the second edition of FAVA.
“It makes me proud to see an event like this, which touches so close to home,” she said.
The fair will be held near the Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco monument, starting at 6.30pm on both days. It is organised by the Portuguese Vegetarian Association and is backed by Loulé council.
There will be a huge variety of vegan products, services and brands on display. Sustainable food transition, circular economy, local currency, green energy, sustainable transportation and construction, urban waste reduction and many other subjects will be discussed at the event. Live music will be played throughout the event. Admission is free.
Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento.
Photo: Fátima Lourenço, owner of Veganices vegan grocery store, has been following a vegan diet for decades