We had the good fortune of connecting with Norma Pérez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Norma, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
There’s been many times I doubt myself & think, I’m doing so much & getting results that I am not happy with that I want to give up but then I think about the reason why I started this & it brings me back to continue going. Times, situations, connections and so on will always be hard but unless it is not making an impact on absolutely nothing, that is when I might want to rethink. Otherwise, there is no giving up if I am making some kind of impact.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My business has been something that came from what could have been a low point to rebirthing into a unique concept. There have been others who have veganized our foods & all kinds of foods but I wanted to take it a step further & completely make it all Salvadoran all vegan having over 50 veganized Salvadoran recipes. I want to reach 100 in the future. To show that one can still enjoy & retain our traditions without the killing of animals. Also bringing the area of not just animal well being but especially our cultural traditions & the retention as well as the human impact it has had on our bipoc community & how veganism is intertwined with that. Being an Afrodescendant of El Salvador, I highly want to bring to light that area as well because of so much denial & to show how it’s always been there, especially within our traditions & food. When it comes to where I am today with my business, I am here due to being my authentic self no matter what or who is there. Sometimes we get so consumed by listening to others opinions that we loose tract of reality, & being honest, I’ve done that but in all I have always remained true to who I am, even if it’s a sensitive person but that has created everything you see. So I see it as a virtue. It hasn’t been easy at all but taking one step at a time, one foot infront of the other, readjusting to where I need to, falling but always getting up & continuing. It’s that resilience of the Salvadoran spirit I carry within, knowing everything that has happened to our little beautiful country but always pushing forward to hopefully uplift my community.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was here to visit for a week, oooh there are so many places I would take them, (let’s imagine there is no pandemic by the way). First place I would take them is The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita. It is an animal sanctuary where animals from cows, horses, pigs, chickens, lamas, and so many more are brought to live the rest of their lives in peace. You get to hug a cow and to say the least, it is an amazing feeling to hug this gentle being and feel its energy fill your entire self. It’s an amazing experience. Another place I would take them is to Eaton Canyon in Pasadena, CA which is a light to moderate hike with a waterfall at the end. Also bringing some good vegan eat snacks to enjoy that peaceful stream of water at the end. Another place I would especially bring them is to El Salvador Corridor in Los Angeles. Everytime I go there, it literally feels like you are walking through the markets back in El Salvador & I especially at times can feel my ancestors present as I walk through. Yet other places I would take them is the California African American Museum located in Exposition Park or if the Afro-Latinx Festival was presently going on (they do it once a year) or Museum of Latin American Art. Knowing & learning this history is important to know the foundation of where many of us come from. There was a Salvadoran exhibit of Salvadoran artists in Los Angeles but I believe it might not be up any longer, but if it was, absolutely another place I would take them too. And oh yes, karaoke, ABSOLUTELY karaoke is a must with me & my friends! And, you must do a little dance up there while you sing your little heart out! No ifs, ands or but! Another must is 80s dancing! There are several places I would suggest; Blue Mondays at Boardners in Hollywood; 80s club in Corona, CA; New Wave Bar (80s) I believe in Bellflower, CA, (yes, I’m an 80s fanatic!) One thing I always recommend is to do a bonfire at Dockweiler Beach or Huntington Beach. They have pits where they allow bonfires. It’s a California thing to do that one cannot miss out on. As far as food, well, absolutely some Salvi spots for pupusas & yucca & all the good stuff, vegan option of course & all the vegan spots too & pop-ups. Too many to name especially living in California, we are extremely lucky it is a very vegan friendly state. And, of course, make them something from my menu. 🙂 Yea, got carried away with this list but you all get the gist. 😉
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are quite a few people in my life whether they are there or no longer there, that have been pivotal to the guidance given to me of where I am at today. First person is Caroline Lafaurie former owner of Equelecuá Cuban/Vegan Cafe. I worked as a cook & server at her restaurant & she taught & mentored me so much about the restaurant world & about life. I am forever grateful for her guidance. Another person is Carol from Vegatinos, a pop-up restaurant (now turned into a brick & mortar) & all her advice about doing this business as a pop-up. Both her & her husband Alex came to help me the 1st year I had to make over 400 tamales for online orders, being overwhelmed & emotional not knowing how I got myself into doing this, they helped a day which I needed & helped calm my stress knowing I was going to be o.k. Eternally grateful for them. Another person I’d like to shout out is Karla Vasquez from SalviSoul. She has given me much advice & listened to me when I wanted to give up. She has been the one to say to me, “Remember why you started this. Let that be your focus.” I sometimes feel bad that I’ve kept going to folks because I feel I might be a burden or “too much” but seeing where I am today, still pushing forward, I am extremely thankful they have all been there regardless of where our paths are now with each other. The last person I absolutely have to shout out is my madrecita, my mom. She has done so much for me & though in her own way, her support might be different, I know I absolutely would not be where I am without her. My business is an homage to her & her resilience. Her spirit of that uniqueness, that soul so beautiful that shines very bright that it captivates so grand. Her essence is present within The Salvi Vegan & everything I make, do, show, create & support. My slogan is “It’s Mamá Approved” because getting her approval means the world to me & I just want to make her proud.
Other: TikTok search under @thesalvivegan
In the picture of Diáspora Afrosalvadoreña (orange flyer), it was a Facebook live put together by organization I’m in called Afroos, (based in El Salvador made up of Afrodescendants of El Salvador) with host Carlos Lara & guests; Breena Nuñez, Zaira Miluska, Mario Campos & myself.