It’s been another busy month for Million Dollar Vegan as we donated more than 8,000 meals in Argentina, India, Spain, the UK, and – for the first time – in Morocco.
Serving Those in Need in Morocco
This month saw our first ever food relief action across three cities in Morocco, in partnership with Veg’MOROCCO, and coordinated by our France campaign manager, Flavien Bascoul.
Volunteers took food to orphanages, social centers for disabled children, charities for victims of domestic violence and people in need, as well as to health and Covid-19 vaccination centers to provide food to medical caregivers and administrative staff. The actions took place in Casablanca, Rabat and Fez.
In Casablanca …
… we partnered with JOT Café, the vegan restaurant of the Damanjot Yoga Center, which prepared burgers and buddha bowls served with traditional Moroccan desserts and organic vegetables from The Green Souk.
Volunteers distributed the food to six locations: the Oasis and Baoufi centers of the Maison d’Enfants Lalla Hasnaâ, an orphanage managed by the charity Al Ihssane; the Ain Chok children’s shelter, managed by the charity Bayti, an organisation that works for the protection and psycho-social rehabilitation of children in precarious situations; and to the medical and administrative staff of three different health and vaccination centers.
… we partnered with local restaurant Baba Ghannouge which veganized some of their most popular meals. Volunteers took the food to recipients at three more locations. First came a visit to the medical and administrative staff of the health and vaccination center Dar ALHADITH. Then they worked with the newly created association Ivory Solidarity Morocco and supplied food to immigrants living in precarious situations, including single mothers and homeless people. Finally, they took meals to Casa LAHNINA, a charity that cares for children with disabilities.
In Fez …
… we partnered early in April with non-vegan restaurant Le Tarbouche, which also veganized some of their meals for us. Once again, incredible volunteers took the food to Dar al Atfal Al Ouafae and Dar Atifl Al Moustakbal, two facilities of care and shelter for young children in difficulty; and also to the BATHA multifunctional center for the empowerment of women victims of domestic violence.
Mohammed Bouhakkaoui, president and co-founder of Veg’MOROCCO, said: “Change starts with simple things, and every vegan meal can make a difference. This campaign is very positive as it is based on giving and peace! It’s a gesture that preaches respect and love for all living beings.”
Says Sahar Ouhajjou Belkacem, the vegan activist who coordinated the giveaways on the ground in Morocco: “It is important to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy, sustainable and plant-based diet with peaceful and joyful campaigns, sharing kindness. Moving towards a plant-based diet, even by slowly reducing consumption of animal products, can help improve our health, preserve the planet, treat animals with dignity, and also help prevent other pandemics. As consumers, by making conscious choices about what we put on our plates, we all have the opportunity to contribute to the collective well-being.”
We couldn’t agree more!
Working Towards a Fully Vegan Soup Kitchen in Buenos Aires
In Argentina this month, we partnered with soup kitchen Arcoiris (Rainbow) inside the Villa 31, an impoverished neighborhood in Buenos Aires. This is a place where children are served food every day, and we were delighted to support them on three occasions this month. First, we served vegan chocolate cookies and a typical Argentinian cake called “pasta frola” to 150 children who were very happy about receiving these goodies!
Then, on the last two Mondays in March, we served them 300 lunches of lentil stew with a bean salad, bread and fruit.
Jacqueline Guzmán, Million Dollar Vegan’s Argentina manager, says big things are planned. “We aim to build the first vegan soup kitchen inside the Villa 31 where people can have access to healthier more nutritious food while also learning how to cook vegan and the reasons behind a vegan lifestyle.”
Promoting Plant-Based Meals in Pune
In India, we teamed up with Mr Vilasrao Matay, member of the District Council, and Vice Chairman of the Agricultural Industries Market Committee under the Maharashtra State Agriculture Board, to distribute 250 packets of grains and multigrain flour to underserved people in his neighborhood. As a result of speaking with our India manager Darshana Muzumdar, Mr Matay has pledged to go vegan and encouraged others in his community to do so, too.
We also worked with Mrs Archana Patil, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Women’s Wing Chief in Pune, to reach out to women and their families in four areas of her ward. Again, we took grains and multigrain flour to 1,500 people left vulnerable because of the pandemic We also held a workshop on how to make whole food plant-based traditional Indian food, as well as educating attendees about the health benefits of eating vegan and how a plant-based diet reduces future pandemic risks. The event was a huge success, and we plan to give more workshops to this community who welcomed us wholeheartedly, having lost so much of their income due to Covid.
Says Mrs Archana Patil: “With so many people having lost jobs and having to sit at home for the long period of the lockdown, we need to listen to the simple and very affordable solutions that Million Dollar Vegan is sharing with us. It will also improve our immunity.”
Says Million Dollar Vegan’s Darshana Muzumdar: “We were so happy to have the support of someone like Mrs Archana Patil as she is well aware of the important role plant-based food plays in our health and also in reducing the risk of future pandemics, even though she herself is not 100% vegan yet. The information we shared has helped the community understand how and why zoonotic diseases originate and how they can shift to a plant-based diet to largely prevent the emergence of future pandemics, and also to strengthen their immunity. We are so happy to see how receptive these officials were to spreading our message to help #TakePandemicsOffTheMenu.”
Thanking Medical Staff in Manchester
This month, our UK manager, Joseph Stratton worked with Mother May I catering to supply 300 meals to nurses, medical support staff and volunteers at a busy vaccination center in Manchester. The center vaccinates up to 3,000 people a day, with some staff working 14-hour double shifts to ensure that as many people as possible can be vaccinated.
On the first day, we offered a delicious Caribbean-style coconut curry with mixed rice and coleslaw, while on the second day we served harissa-spiced ‘meatballs’ in tomato sauce, with spiced potatoes, tabbouleh and hummus.
One nurse told us: “The food was absolutely delicious. I’m a meat-eater and I couldn’t believe how good the ‘meatballs’ were and you really didn’t miss the meat. After yesterday’s amazing meal I went home and started researching vegan butter and milk because I couldn’t believe how good the substitutes were!”
Says Sophie, of Mother May I catering: “I’ve loved being part of showing people here that vegan food can be delicious and make you feel great, as well as gently talking to them about the crucial pandemics link. It’s a big topic and Million Dollar Vegan has even reminded me how important it is to be vocal about it.”
Meat Out in Madrid
To celebrate Meat Out Day, our Spain manager, Paula Gonzalez Carracedo coordinated the donation of 350 delicious Asian-style lunch boxes to passersby to showcase just how flavourful vegan food can be. The boxes contained rice, stir-fried pak choi, miso aubergine, sweet-and-sour no-chicken, fried gyozas and edamame – all made by our friends at Mandarina Plant Based Kitchen.
Hsuan Ming Liu, the chef at Mandarina told us: “Veganism is part of our value system and cooking is our way to communicate that. It makes us very happy that, through food, our message can reach people and they can see that human beings can live in harmony with the animals on this planet and at the same time eat delicious food.”
Read more about our international food relief program, and how we plan to donate one million plant-based meals.