Arcelia and Jonas – The Vegan Family Behind Eburg Veg
Meet Arcelia and 3-year-old Jonas, the vegan family behind Eburg Veg!
Through Eburg Veg, they’re exposing “Rodeo City” to veganism!
Raising a vegan kid in a small town full of animal agriculture can be intimidating. Arcelia’s solution: make the town more vegan. And she’s doing it, through Eburg Veg, her Ellensburg, WA, vegan community project. She shares her progress, and her gorgeous food pics, online for us all to enjoy. Read on and meet the vegan family behind this movement.
Look for Arcelia and Jonas in June’s issue of Raise Vegan!
I was lucky enough to meet up with Arcelia, to talk about Eburg Veg and about her first priority: parenting. She’s a single mom, exuding warmth and humor. Her attachment to Jonas is obvious, both in the gentle, respectful way she speaks to him and in the confidence he feels to bravely explore outside then come right back to her cuddles.
“I’m raising Jonas vegan because he has the right to grow up healthy, happy, and free from the hypocrisy that we expect children to endure without emotional consequence when we feed them things we won’t show them the source of,” she says.
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I ask her about Eburg Veg, which has a local Ellensburg, WA, vegan restaurant guide in a community with no vegan/vegetarian restaurants. She says she’s not just compiling info like HappyCow. Rather, she’s connecting with each restaurant and helping them to develop vegan menu options and to be more educated on veganism so that people can order vegan there with confidence.
Ellensburg is known for its rodeo and animal agriculture, but their county is also growing fast—in the national top 10 for rapid growth—so her hope is that, since plant-based eating is also on the rise, Eburg can become more vegan as it grows, with the help of the vegan family behind Eburg Veg.
“First and foremost,” she said, “I want to show anyone interested locally what it’s like to live a plant-based lifestyle, that it is possible, and that they have someone to ask questions to as a resource for whatever changes they’d like to make.”
Arcelia’s a long-time vegan, but she remembers what it was like being new to veganism. From age 14 to 21, she was vegetarian, thinking of veganism is some wonderful, but unattainable goal. What helped her make the leap to veganism was finally meeting another vegan and seeing an example of what the lifestyle looked like.
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She’s doing events at Central Washington University and finding that people there are receptive when she comes at it from the environmental angle, though few are receptive to a specific animal rights angle. “That’s why I’m learning food,” she says. “I want to create the demand for vegan food and then deliver it.” She plans to eventually create a community space with an attached café to host everything from concerts and events to cooking classes, plus a rooftop garden to teach children how to grow food.
I am amazed she can fit this all in, as a single parent and being the vegan family behind this movement. Part of her strategy is bringing Jonas along for the ride. “Jonas and I do almost everything together,” she says. “So each day, I discuss the boring adult things that I need to accomplish and talk about the fun kid things that he wants to do, and try to find the balance so that we can both feel satisfied with our day.”
She feels fortunate that he is willing and able to entertain himself easily while she gets the adult stuff done because it’s important to her to be fully present with him when they’re playing. Jonas loves creating new track shapes with his wooden train set, going to the library and the skate park, and gardening. They are very involved in Ellensburg’s Community Children’s Garden.
Arcelia’s Instagram is full of inspiring rainbow smoothie bowls. Usually, Jonas will choose some ingredients, and Arcelia will build a complete meal around it. They do a lot of burritos, stir-fries, and soups. I ask what Jonas’s favorite foods are, and she hits me with an epic list:
“He loves broccoli, peanut sauce, rice, tofu, lentils, beans, cashew mac sauce, oatmeal, granola, avocado, bananas, oranges, apples, pears, cauliflower, blueberries, flax seeds, nutritional yeast, popcorn, carrots, peas, green beans, bell peppers, cabbage, Field Roast, chia pudding, soy yogurt, Chao cheese, olives, cranberries, cilantro, quinoa, pesto, guacamole, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, walnuts, almonds, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, toast, limes, lemons, mango, pineapple, coconut, and of course candy and cake! Those are just his favorites.”
“Honestly, I’m hard-pressed to think of much that he won’t eat,” she says, “except that if I make salad he will only take a few bites, and to get him to eat leafy greens I have to cook them, put them in smoothies/soups, make kale chips, or blend them into sauces.”
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They love to make whole-wheat pancakes and biscuits together, especially when friends come over. Jonas has his own YouTube cooking channel, where sometimes his 2- and 3-year-old friends help him measure the ingredients and then taste-test the goodies.
The YouTube channel was actually Jonas’s idea. Right around when he turned 2, he started asking about who was or wasn’t vegan, trying to understand what it really meant. There weren’t any other young, vegan children in Ellensburg, so Arcelia turned to YouTube for help normalizing the experience of growing up vegan.
Jonas got super into a channel called Vegan Kids, where a vegan kid named Dylan teaches recipes and talks about his life as a vegan kid. Jonas idolized Dylan, talking about him regularly as if they were friends. For months he asked his mama if he could have his own cooking show, so she eventually got a phone that could record video and helped him make it happen.
“We try to focus on simple recipes that are unique to a vegan lifestyle,” she said, “to show people how easy it is making alternatives to things they are used to enjoying but might not know how to substitute for the animal ingredients.”
Arcelia sees veganism as a natural extension of the rest of her beliefs: “As a feminist and trauma survivor I believe wholeheartedly in consent, and much of the “gray area” issues people talk about—such as what is labeled as humane animal agricultural practices, backyard chicken eggs, honey, etc.—doesn’t get anywhere near a muddled line of judgement if you truly value consent and the right to life.”
Arcelia has a lot to be proud of. Her Eburg Veg project is slowly changing an entire community to be more eco- and animal-friendly. She says what she’s most proud of, though, are the creative ways she’s managed to survive, and to keep Jonas as her top priority, to raise him the way she wants.
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“The past few years have been a series of nonstop transitions,” she says. “There have been so many times when I feel like I must be out of my mind for wanting to be an attachment parent as the only parent, and where we are down to the wire and I don’t how we are going to make it. But somehow sticking the course has worked out. I don’t really think of it as an accomplishment, other than I’m pleased to be on a lucky path, and happy to know Jonas and be so close to such an amazing person during their formative years.”
Tags: everyday vegans, parenting advice, plant based parents, raising vegan kids, the vegan family behind, vegan kids, Why Vegan