When you think of Afro-Carribean food, ‘vegan’ is probably not the first word that comes to mind. But if it’s up to Martin, Merrel, and Sharon, this could change soon. In 2020, the trio founded Amsterdam’s first Vegan Community, Yemayá, in Amsterdam Zuidoost. A year later, they are endorsed by none other than District Chairman and former TEDxAmsterdam guest Tanja Jadnanansing. The community was named after the African-Carribean goddess of the sea, who – in the religion of life – stands for guidance, communication, empowerment, and connectivity. A perfect match with an organisation which aims to show that, as a community, we can achieve a lot with very little.
Yemayá was founded on a desire to contribute to society while also staying true to the own culture and background. After all – innovation and sustainability shouldn’t have to go at the expense of tradition. The community aims to teach people how to live more consciously, and how to take care of themselves while also taking care of their surroundings. As they put it, vegan choices – no matter how occasional – can benefit both individual wellbeing and that of our environment. And when we share the conscious choices we make, we can also inspire others. In this way, Yemayá hopes to foster a feeling of empowerment of both the individual and the community at large.
A first milestone has been the opening of Yemayá’s Vegan Corner in Reigersbos, where neighbours, students, and anyone finding themselves in the area can get acquainted with a vegan and sustainable lifestyle in an accessible way. It’s the place to be for veganised (and delicious!) versions of Afro-Carribean favourites such as roti rolls, saoto soup and pom. Students and elderly receive a discount, illustrating Yemayá’s dedication to the local community. At a later stage, Yemayá will also offer other services, including fruit and vegetable crates, sustainable clothing, sustainable beauty products, and workshops, courses and lectures, all aimed at the local community and springing from local culture.
Curious or inspired? Make sure to add Yemayá’s Vegan Corner to your hotspot list this Summer! And while you’re at it, combine it with a visit to the vibrant area of Zuidoost (or opt for delivery if you live in Zuidoost or Diemen). Also follow their socials to keep up to date about the community and their initiatives!