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SPAIN: Vegan vs meat: working with "cecina"
Consumers are getting more and more conscious and smart. Vegan way of living has become trendy in many parts of the world. 23-year-old Louisa Davidson is organizing Vegan Nights banners are hung around the expansive courtyards of the Truman Brewery.
Vegan lifestyle vs "normal" eating habits
There is a chill in the air, quickly warmed by a buzzing atmosphere more like a music festival than an ethical food fair, as BBC Radio 1Xtra and House of Camden DJs play records, cocktails are poured and entrepreneurs sell zines and street wear alongside the vegan sushi, patisserie and “filthy vegan junk food”. “We’re riding on that wave of veganism getting into the mainstream,” Davidson says. Many of the traders are new to it as well, with a couple of them having launched their businesses at Vegan Nights. “It is a community and everyone supports each other’s businesses.
In recent years, a growing trend towards vegetarianism and veganism has arisen among young people due to their increasing awareness of health, the environment and compassion for animals. According to a recent poll conducted by the independent research firm Harris Interactive, the number of vegetarian youth in the United States has increased 70% in just the last few years. Another poll conducted by a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on vegetarianism, revealed that 0.5% of all U.S. children aged 6-17 are vegan.
We interviewed a Spanish woman that believes that nevertheless traditional food and delicatessen made from animals have their stand. She makes her living with meat and has no problem with that: Conchi Nieto is running CecinasNieto
How did you end up in the meat production?
Because it is our Family Business. My father started it and my eldest brother and me are the second generation.
Meat business seems complicated. What did you study?
I studied Business and I am working now mainly in the export department of our company. I speak languages of course, that is why.
How did it work for you as a woman in the meat business?
The meat business is a world of men, especially in Spain - this is the truth. But I started in that business very young so I know the process and I have adapted very quickly to their way of handling things. The most important part in my daily job is fulfilling my task fficiently and with a nearly perfect result. I try to impose every now and then my ideas. We all have to do our work in the best we can, it doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man and of course we have to listen to each other.
You work with your two brothers. How is it to work with family?
It is not always easy, but in our case in general it is very good. It is important for me to get on well with my family, but even more important it is to respect each of them. It is also very crucial to define tasks and work as a team.
Do you suffer global tendences like veganism?
Not, I don’t, I respect all food trends and I have never been rebuked for that. We believe that everyone should live like he wants.
You started a "halal" production. What are your expectations in this line of products?
We have started this line as a market niche because we are specialized in beef. For the moment we are very positive about it. The investment was worth it. But I can tell you to get all the certifications and papers together is a difficuilt act.
Export is very important for you. Tell us why the UE is such an advantages for you.
Because it is our main market. European beef is forbidden in many third countries so we focus on UE.
How is it to export outside the UE?
It is difficult because there are many bans for beef outside UE. We should be really happy about our achievements in Europe. For companies the unique market is such a big competitive advantage, not to talk about the single currency.
Will you expand your staff in the future?
I hope so. We make a natural and quality product and people demands that more and more. Let us hope that this ends up in more business and we can employ more people.
Let's talk about your product. What is so special about Cecina de León and what does make it so unique?
Our company makes 100% of our production as Cecina de León IGP so it means that all the dried beef we produce is made under quality and productions rules. This kind of dried beef is unique because is just made in León province, northwest of Spain and the Know-how and elaboration process is established here since Roman times. Moreover, it is a natural product; it is just beef, salt and smoke.
I guess that there are products like cured ham and beef that make it very difficuilt for vegans to stay calm. Vegan Deike Werner from Germany admits: "When I have a "Jamón 100% Iberico" before me, it is difficuilt not to try". But she also thinks that is o.k.: "Like Cecina these are very good meat products. Although they are from animals they are healthy. Vegans should not be so strict about everything".
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