Music and Mangos, is a collection of stories and restaurant reviews from our world travel as a family, as professional musicians, and as vegan food enthusiasts. I, Taina Asili, am a vocalist and touring musician based in Albany, NY, performing with my guitarist and partner and in love Gaetano Vaccaro. We have two beautiful children, and our entire family is vegan. Each post offers a window into our lives as vegan touring artists with a family. We use a multimedia combination of words, photography, video, and a specially selected soundtrack to bring you closer on our journey. With our restaurant reviews and searchable world map we hope to offer practical support for eating vegan with a family on the road. With our open-heart stories we hope to offer readers inspiration and advice for blending your personal passions with your family.
Our Music and Activism
Gaetano and I perform together in a group called Taina Asili y la Banda Rebelde, a 6-piece Afro-Latin, reggae and rock fusion group. We also study and perform flamenco and Latin American folk as Asili & Vaccaro. Our lives are committed to social justice, as reflected in our music and lifestyle, and our activism leads us to work in many areas, from prisoner justice to eco-justice. These projects are constantly taking us on the road, mostly in the US, but sometimes in other areas of the world, and often we bring our children with us.
Our Food Passion
I am Puerto Rican and Gaetano is Sicilian, and for us, flavorful food is a very important part of our lives. We have both been vegan for well over a decade, and we love to cook. However, when we are on the road, cooking is often not an option. So, we love to go out in search of restaurants with soul that can cater to our vegan diet. As many vegans know, this is not an easy task. Add to this that our eldest child, who often accompanies us in our travels, has become quite the vegan foodie, and we have a unique challenge on our hands. After many years of touring, we have begun to refine the art of seeking out these vegan-friendly gems around the world, often using a combination of web resources (like happycow.com), speaking with local folks, and pure experimentation.
What Vegan Means To Us
When we were younger, we became vegan as part of our animal rights and environmental justice activism. Though we see caring for animals and the environment as important, we believe it is equally important to respect all different kinds of diets in the world. I intentionally omit the word “choice” after diet, because for many, how one eats is not a choice as much as it is connected to socioeconomic privilege or lack thereof. As such, it is important to us to participate in the food justice movement, so that everyone has equal access to healthy food. Also, how you eat is deeply connected to who you are physically, mentally, spiritually and culturally, and therefor, only you know what’s best to fuel your body. Our family eats vegan, but we honor the diet diversity of this world and would not want it any other way. As we travel, we do not expect to be catered to wherever we go, but rather, find places where we can humbly, comfortably and respectfully weave ourselves into the cuisine.
We offer you this blog in hopes that you will enjoy these places on your traveling vegan adventure as much as we have. Buen provecho!