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Vegan Ricans In Chicago

Vegan Ricans In Chicago

By on Sep 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Taina Asili

Enjoying Vegan Puerto Rican Food In Chicago Featured Song:   I have been inspired by the Puerto Rican community of Humboldt Park in Chicago, particularly Paseo Boricua on Division Street, ever since I first performed there over 10 years ago. A friend had invited me to perform at the opening of a new youth cultural center called Cafe Teatro Batey Urbano. That gorgeous night of sharing poetry and music with other Puerto Rican youth changed my life. Soon after, I was introduced to the other powerful work happening within that community, such as the Don Pedro Albizu Campos high school, named after one of the most important leaders of the Puerto Rican independence movement. I have visited many times since then for performances, and once to show support for former political prisoner José Solís Jordán. I have stayed connected with activists from that community, and joined with them here on the East Coast many times, most recently for a rally to free Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. Last year, I was invited by poet Michael Reyes to perform at an event he was holding in that community called Culture Creators. Michael is an incredible international touring poet and activist. You can hear him featured on the song “Freedom” on our new album Fruit of Hope. We played some acoustic songs in this beautiful and intimate gathering of community, and though Michael was the only one I knew there, I felt like I was with family. This is the warmth of my people. The next day Michael introduced us to a restaurant called La Plena, saying he thought it would be our best bet for finding vegan Puerto Rican food. Just like he said, they did have arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas) without meat! This was super exciting for all of us since arroz con gandules is our absolute favorite Puerto Rican dish. We also ordered  some platanos maduros (ripe fried plantain) on the side. Unfortunately, we had to take our food to go, because our daughter fell asleep in the car. But when we went in to order, we were impressed with the beautiful cultural murals and airy atmosphere of the restaurant, and we hoped to dine...

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Social Centers & Vegan Cafés On Our Europe Tour

Social Centers & Vegan Cafés On Our Europe Tour

By on Sep 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Taina Asili

Featured Song:   I first heard the legends of the amazing squatted spaces in Europe during my teen years in the punk scene. Friends in punk bands would tour Europe and come home raving about these abandoned buildings that would be re-occupied by activists and turned into thriving housing, music and art venues, activist meeting spaces, info shops and vegan cafes. I had always dreamed of touring the social centers of Europe when I was in my punk band Antiproduct, and 20 years later, I finally  got the opportunity to do so on the Break the Chains European Tour with Evan Greer, Gaetano and myself. You can read more about the beginning of our tour adventure in my blogpost here, or about our full tour adventures in a blogpost by Evan Greer here, and check out a video montage by Gaetano here: Visiting and performing in these spaces brought me back to everything I loved about the punk scene of the mid to late 90’s. A time when people connected and organized together in person and not on social media. A time when we understood the importance of having a space outside of the mainstream to create the world we wish to see. And, most importantly, a time when hosts made touring musicians the most delicious vegan food. Many of the social centers we visited were either currently or formerly squatted, run by collectives, and most of them had been around for decades. A few of them we performed at had a regular cafe with vegan options during the week. Kebele in Bristol, England was the first social center we encountered with a regular vegan cafe. We arrived in the afternoon and watched as our hosts worked tremendously hard to prepare food for the large crowd of folks that would be arriving for dinner before the show. On the menu that night was black bean burgers, mashed potatoes, salad and cake, which were delicious and made with a tremendous amount of love and commitment to community. You can find more info about their cafe hours here. It is also worth mentioning that around the corner from Kebele is a place called Jeevan Sweets, where you can grab a very good quality and affordable...

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