Founded at the EastSide Cafe in Los Angeles, Las Cafeteras, a unisex group of musicians, came together in 2009. Creating music described as folk-fusion, the band recently released their first studio album, “It’s Time,” inclusive of traditional Mexican sounds, Hip-Hop, Afro-beats and spoken word.
Absorbing from the world around them, the good and bad, Las Cafeteras use their music as a celebration and collaboration of all they experience always keeping a positive message.
“Our music reflects uplift and encouragement to keep your head up and to overcome obstacles. It comes from how we live and [we] are cultivating a new world, one tiny seed at a time,” said Daniel French. “These lifestyles traits of community work, spirituality and love for self and community inform and infuse the music you hear on ‘It’s Time.'”
Being a socially conscious group, Las Cafeteras take every inch of their surroundings and make it part of their art. Their food choices are included in the decisions that they make. While not all of the band members follow one specific food path, each of them make sure to be healthy and make appropriate choices for their diet.
“Caring for our bodies and our minds has taught us patience, humility, and appreciation for ourselves, each other and the gifts of nature,” said Denise Carlos.
As a traveling group promoting their new album, the band has been on the road a lot and eating healthily while traveling may be among the most difficult for any individual, musician or not. While not everyone is vegetarian or vegan, most of the band is meatless 90 percent of the time, said band member Jose Cano. Recently the band performed at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.
“Our trip to South by Southwest was a challenge because we were many times in the middle of nowhere. The food at every stop was fast food or convenient store food,” said Annette Torres. “One had to stock up at every health store that we found along the way, or else you were left waiting to eat a few hours into the drive. I think we learned in this trip how to prepare ourselves to stay healthy while traveling. It is definitely getting easier.”
It often takes time and planning while traveling, researching whether or not areas of travel are accommodating to vegans or vegetarians.
“It’s also very important to be patient, because there will be times when the food does not accommodate to your special food needs. After many years of traveling as a vegan I have learned best practices in making sure I am well nourished,” said Leah Gallegos. “Having a specific diet on the road is an adventure, it’s challenging and but it keeps you feeling good.”
From vegans and vegetarians to omnivores, the band is versatile, creating a mish-mosh of personalities, experiences and stories mirrored in the food and the way they eat.
“We all have different tastes. And certain ingredients go great with others. Sometimes you experiment in the kitchen improvising a new recipe. You share it with your friends…” said French. “I think our music’s kinda like that. We blend different ingredients: stories, rhythms, melodies, dances, politics. Just as much as we are trying to put healthy ingredients into our bodies, we’re trying to put healthy elements into our music.”
Coming from particular neighborhoods in Los Angeles has also shaped their lifestyle choices as they become more educated about who they are as individuals, as a band and members of the country. Politically, knowledge about Universal Healthcare and the Standard American Diet brings up conversations that end up making their way into the music the create.
“Our diets, in a way, drive a lot of our politics, or our politics drive our diet,” said David Flores, “I mean, we all grew up on fast food. It was the only thing accessible to us, and many low-income families of color, so it was like a drug, we were and, in a sense still are, recovering fast food addicts. So, it inevitably comes out in our music.”
It doesn’t stop there. Las Cafeteras have also brought up the issues of the meat industry and their pollutant effects on the environment.
“It’s not surprising how scarce vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants or markets we find, as the U.S. has one of the largest running meat-processing industries in the world,” said Carlos.
“We all care a great deal about our present and future of our people and planet. From experiences in difficult and long hours (though fulfilling) in community work, our spiritual practices provide space for reflection and re-energizing,” added French.
Overall, the light-spirited and politically aware group embrace and appreciate everyone they encounter, says French.
“Hector [our band mate] always says, ‘I don’t like beef, that’s why I’m a vegetarian.’ It’s funny and true. We’re not trying to have beef with anyone, but maybe a salad.”