Ana Maria Vasconcelos, Belcinto

“My name is Ana Maria Vasconcelos and I have been vegetarian for 15 years”.

Being vegetarian

People often question me on how can I work on this company as a vegetarian, but I think those two things have anything to do with each other. On the contrary, for me, using leather is an advantage, as I’m recycling a sub product. Therefore, I’m doing a favor to society by using animal skin, otherwise it would be really difficult to recycle the amount of skin there is.


[In Portuguese] Belcinto means nice belt, therefore we started by making belts. The foundation year was 1961 and it started out by family, my father’s family. I came here in 1975 with the goal of proceeding my education but I ended up staying. Since then, I work at least eight hours per day at the company.

We developed a wide range of fashion products, such as wallets, bags, basically every accessory. We had approximately 1000 Portuguese clients, to whom we produced several products and also represented some in Portugal. Then, the recession happened and the stores didn’t have purchasing power, the production quantities decreased significantly and so we turned to external markets. We were lucky we found an international partner that believed in us and, fortunately, we overcame that period without firing anyone.

The sustainability topic

The sustainability topic came more from outside than within. I believe we’re still not aware that we have to protect the planet. The external market is going to demand sustainability from the companies. What does this mean exactly? Workers have to have good increasingly better work conditions and fair wages; there has to be equal payment for men and women; we have to pay our suppliers in time; and, of course, we have to respect the environment. Overall, we have to responsibly circulate goods and services.

A sustainable product is a product made with environmental raw materials, which means not using plastic or synthetic materials that may contain oil. In that sense, leather is a biodegradable and long-lasting material that allows the purchase of only one bag for a lifetime, while bags from synthetics materials have to be exchanged three or four times a year. Therefore, between leather and synthetics, we believe leather is much better. We try to buy from near supplier to avoid air transport, we prefer using overland transport. The products are made by workers in our facilities, in order to further extend the lifespan of the product, in our case, we want a product that will last a lifetime. There’s no turning back. Companies will have to be increasingly aware and will have to make changes as fast as they can, because this is going to be the way. The planet needs us. All the evidence shows that if we don’t protect our planet, we will never have what we always knew.

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