14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 2 March 2017 — A few minutes after noon, the Lettuce Women stood on the corner of Obispo and Mercaderes streets in Old Havana. They came with their unique message that promotes healthy food and a love of animals. Under the March sun, their lettuce bikinis generated more curiosity than their environmentalist discourse.
From a lime-green suitcase, activists pulled out magazines and ad sheets to promote a vegan diet. A campaign that does not stop generating confusion in Cuba, a country obsessed with meat and where the dream of many people is to eat a steak every day.
At first the activists were surrounded by more press than public, but their scanty clothing soon caused an uproar. Under the eyes of some policemen the Ladies responded to questions from journalists and those who wanted to know what it’s like to be a vegan.
The women declared that, since their arrival on the island, they have viewed the situation of the animals with “a lot of sadness,” according to Yerica Sojo, a Puerto Rican who has been doing this for more than ten years, “there are many [animals] abandoned in the street who need help.” Some national groups do “a very good job of caring for them and promoting compassion,” like the Association for the Protection of Animals and Plants.
This Friday the Ladies in Green plan to go to different schools to chat with the students.
With regards to the Cuban diet they said it “contains a lot of animals” but also “there are many fruits, vegetables and grains that can be eaten” and that one can be vegan and “keep the Cuban culture of eating rice, beans, bananas.”
Among the recipes they distributed to the public, there were some to prepare potato croquettes or mango ceviche.
Near the place where the activists engaged with the public is the San Rafael street market. This week a head of lettuces cost about 10 Cuban pesos (CUP) in the market, which is equivalent to the amount of money a retiree receives on their pension for a full day.
Eating vegetables and legumes is often a luxury that many Cubans cannot afford.
In the final minutes of the presentation the women took out some pens shaped like fruits and vegetables from the bottom of their suitcase and tried to distribute them among those present. However, a dozen people rushed over the suitcase and grabbed all that were left.
The Lettuce Women promised to “warm up Havana” with “advice on how to save animals, be healthy and protect the environment while being vegans.” But there were more lewd looks at their bodies than interest in their message.