This weekend Paredes de Coura is the place to be! Once again this beautiful Portuguese land is hosting Coura Veg, a festival full of yummy greens and lots of love. A fabulous event that joins together experts from all over the world, with whom we can all learn and share ideas about everything that surrounds vegetarianism, from the plant based diet to movements like the Zero Waste, and debates about animal rights. It’s an inspiring event, a true catalyzer of change, that we just had to share with you!
To give you a closer look we interviewed the festival’s team about its origins, goals and values.
First of all, we would love to know how CouraVeg came to be.
Coura veg was born out of a partnership between the Paredes de Coura town hall, and the Quinta das Águias (Eagle farm) association, and later the Animais de Rua (street animals) association. The goal was to provide answers to an audience that was craving for a more profound knowledge, on more subjects, and in a more scientific way, about a topic that was getting more and more attention on both a national and international overview. And so, an international congress was created. This will be its 5th edition, that is organized by people with different backgrounds that volunteered to bring the idea to life. It’s focused on the 3 pillars of vegetarianism: environment, health and animal. Some of the speakers we had on earlier editions were: Mathew Glover ( co-founder of Veganuary initiative), Alex Cornelissen (CEO from Sea Shepperd Global), Steven Wise ( a recognized activist for animal rights) and Patrick Baboumain (an athlete).
What kind of impact would you like that CouraVeg had in Portugal?
At heart, CouraVeg aims to be a space to share and discuss, where people can find answers to many of the questions they have when deciding to go on a quest for a more sustainable future. Here you will find specialists from different backgrounds, both national and international, that are willing to share their experience and knowledge. Besides, it’s given space to NGO’s, companies and other projects to present themselves and share what they have accomplished and the difficulties they face.
What does it mean, for Coura Veg, to be Vegan/Vegetarian?
We see Veganism in a more holistic manner, where every little step counts in the quest for a more sustainable world. That means we should have in consideration everything that surrounds us, the choices we make on our day to day life, what we choose to eat, the origin of our products, the animal’s well-being, and our society’s social and working conditions.
From all the subjects that surround vegetarianism which one would you like to see accepted by the majority of the population?
We can’t choose only one, because we consider that all of them are equally relevant, and that’s how have been working, so that the event can be as embracing as possible. We feel that is of the most importance that people realize that everyone has a different rhythm, and that for some a vegetarian diet is easier, but for others a wardrobe without leather may be the first step, or any other choice that encompasses a positive impact. The important thing is that we all take a step in that direction.
When associating Health with a vegetarian diet, do you think it’s necessary to teach nutrition at schools, if there are more and more resources where one can find information about it?
That is without a doubt a question for this year’s “Vegetarianism for everyone” panel, where Nuno Alvim (from the Portuguese vegetarian association), João Graça (from the project that implemented vegetarian meals at the Portuguese schools) Sandra Gomes Silva (a nutritionist) and Bruno Teixeira (a pediatrician) will participate. They are the best people to answer the question.
Do you feel like an awareness strategy for a more ethical, healthy and sustainable lifestyle from governments and independent entities is needed, or do you feel like vegetarianism is spreading fast enough?
There’s still a lot to be done when it comes to awareness, but vegetarianism has been growing a lot in the last few years and the prove of that are the countless initiatives that have been born around it.
We live in a society that despite having come a long way when it comes to Human rights, it’s still segregated. Racism and Xenophobia, even though they’re weakened, prevail. Vegetarianism brings a notion of equality, not only among humans, but also between animals. Can it be a catalyzer for changes in human rights as much as it is in animal rights?
Animal rights, even though it’s something that’s getting more attention, it’s still a bit under the radar. That’s why this year we created a panel on that question “Animal and environmental protection – Laws and Politics” with Inês Sousa Real (politician and jury), Marisa Quaresma dos Reis ( Lisbon’s animals) and Alexandra Moreira ( animal rights lawyer). There is no doubt that when these topics are discussed, the Human rights present scenario will inevitably be questioned as well.
The program also includes a talk about Zero-Waste. If you could choose 3 products that you could take of the shells immediately, because of their catastrophic impact on the environment, which would they be and why?
It’s obvious that every change needs an adaptation period, otherwise the consequences would also be catastrophic. But if we had to choose, we would say cigarettes, meat, and single use packaging. Besides all the health implications, we have to consider the resources that were used in production and distribution, and also the inefficient solutions found to deal with how we dispose of them. For example, the cigarette butts are a massive problem that demands an immediate solution, because they can’t be recycled or composted, leaving us with no apparent solution.
The ongoing consumerism by impulse is something that seduce us all. In which way do you think that veganism can soften that situation?
By taking more conscious and pondered decisions, we end up choosing companies and products that mean more to us and are more aligned with what we believe. This way, we can easily learn that sometimes less is more, and consequently consumerism is reduced.
As we read the program, we can see that vegetarianism is related with everything in our day to day life, and that there are several solutions that can bring it to our future. Do you believe that we can build a new world, free and functional, with these ideals in the years ahead?
We believe in a long term change in that direction, and we are doing everything we can to inform and answer people’s questions, in a way that that change can become easier and sustainable.
Above all else, what is the message that Coura Veg wants to pass on?
Coura Veg wants to pass on an informed and coherent message of mutual help and respect. It is above all else a space to share and discuss ideas for everyone that is interested in any of these subjects, whether they are vegetarian or not.
We sincerely hope that you felt inspired and wanting to do to Paredes de Coura to participate in the greenest festival Portugal has to offer! Here (https://www.couraveg.org/) you can find all the information you need!
Have a beautiful day,