Brooklyn gal Sonia Montez is a self-made musician (and single mother of an autistic son) who writes her own songs based on life experiences and lessons learned. Think the female version of another veg. melody maker, cutie Jason Mraz, or Nora Jones with a political conscience. Montez considers her self a “humanitarian environmentalist”, and channels this in both her daily life and her music. She shops local, and makes sure to keep her food organic, plus the packaging for her new EP “Of Tears and Honey” is completely made from recycled materials and vegetable based inks. Now that’s some environmental love. To celebrate the album Sonia is throwing a kick ass, veg. friendly party at the OS Art House in downtown Manhattan tonight. Get your cute butt there and zone out to her entrancing melodies; the first ten people get a free CD! Not in NYC? Peep her songs, favorite Mommy-friendly recipes. and philosophies below as guest blogger Ariela Rose talks love, life, and veganism with this rising green starlet.
What’s the new album like? How kick ass is the release party going to be?
This album (Of Tears And Honey) is something I’m extremely proud of. It’s so rare that I have a vision of how something should look like or sound like and that vision actualizes itself better than originally thought. Andrew Felluss at Radian Records understood, during the entire process, that this was an album to show people who I was, not just what I do. The release party is going to be brilliant. I have a six piece band accompanying me, including most of the original musicians from the album. As well as singer/songwriters Zach Hurd and A Lauren Type Thing as introducing acts and a full on show. I ultimate chose the OS Art House at John Street Bar and Grill because I really wanted that underground secret show at a pal’s basement feel for the release, that sort of element is where I’m most comfortable–being able to get down from the stage and go right into the audience if I want. We’re also filming the event so it’s really going to be a blast.
When did you decide to go vegan?
The decision to go vegan was definitely health related. But I’m a relatively new vegan less than a year, so, I’m still missing cheese but I like the way I feel now so I’m not going back, lol.
Why did you go vegan?
I struggle with PCOS, so I wanted to eliminate everything and anything that could alter a natural hormone balance, which dairy and some animal byproducts can do (even organic, non hormone fed dairy).
Were you a vegetarian before you went totally vegan?
I was a vegetarian before I was vegan but my reasons for being a vegetarian are infinitely different than those for becoming vegan. I consider myself a humanitarian environmentalist and not supporting the wasteful behaviors of slaughter houses is part of being an environmentalist. And, I always have clear this up, it’s not because I don’t think the world should eat animals. It’s the unnecessary excess and inhumane practices, with treatment of animals and workers, of the industry which is upsetting, though not at all shocking. It’s more shocking to see and hear about sugar cane bateyes’ slave style treatment of their workers. These are corporations who make millions of dollars and have a system where in they abuse immigrants and the poor, who don’t have another option but starve, by having them work long hours in cane fields for cents a day, while keeping them living on plantation grounds and selling them their daily needs, which the workers cannot fully afford because their wages are so low, so these plantations run tabs that workers then need to pay off by working in the fields. Children go hungry and without clothes and it’s modern day slavery. It’s shocking hear about the blood diamond industry, and it’s shocking to hear about parents selling their children into sex slavery. So in a global society where all these things go on at arm’s reach, inhumanely killing animals is, well, almost expected. But it’s the American excess that I condemn, we kill and kill and kill, use a percentage not equal to what we kill so my being vegetarian is a socio-political stance.
What is the one vegan food you can’t live without?
Any sort of legume. I’m also a big fan of seeds.
How do you incorporate environmentalism/veganism into your everyday life?
I don’t push veganism/vegetarianism on anyone, if someone asks me why then I tell them but I’ll never say, “you should go vegan, it’s the right thing to do”. It’s not my place to assess or direct someone else’s lifestyle. I live in New York City, it’s easy to be a vegan here, there are resources available everywhere and I rarely find myself in a situation where I can’t find something vegan friendly. I’m really into fruits and veggies so it’s just easy for me, I just try and get my protein in there daily, and I’m good.
Are you only interested in dating men who are vegan/environmentalists?
Not at all, as long as there is a respect for my ideas than I can respect his. I don’t think it’s like religion or politics and I wouldn’t don’t knock a guy down for eating a steak, I just won’t join him in eating it.
How do you incorporate your vegan lifestyle into your music career?
Again, super easy…I can always find something to sustain myself. I’m not all that obsessed with food anymore. It’s really just a process for me now, “I’m hungry, I eat, I’m done.” But I am eco-friendly in my career…or as eco-friendly as a musician/single mom can be. I was really adamant about the packaging for the ep being eco freindly, recycled materials and vegetable based inks, it’s great to have that option.
What’s your vegan guilty pleasure?
Oh, definitely pure cocoa powder…I put in my soy smoothies when I have a chocolate craving…a bit of soy milk, a ripened banana, and 1/4 tsp of cocoa powder.
Any cool recipes to share?
I make a mean stuffed spinach leaf dish.
SONIA MONTEZ STUFFED SPINACH LEAF
- 10 large spinach leaves – the larger the better as it makes the job easier
- 1 onion
- 5 (less if you’re not into garlic) cloves garlic
- 2 cups of portobello mushrooms
- Handful of fresh parsley, thyme and oregano
- Tip of a chilli pepper
- Olive oil
- Wash the spinach leaves by rinsing in cold water, pat dry and cut the stalks off.
- Put about 3/4 of a pint of water into a large pan, bring to the boil and add the spinach leaves. Cook for just 2 minutes and drain, reserving the juices (This is just so it is easier to roll the leaves later on)
- Pat the leaves dry and leave to cool while you prepare the filling
- Prepare the vegetables. Peel the onion and chop as finely as possible. Wash the mushrooms, pat dry and chop. Peel and crush the garlic. Chop the tip of the chili pepper as finely as you can.
- In a frying pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil, add the onions and fry until soft, then add the garlic and mushrooms. And cook for a further 6 minutes or so until the mushrooms soften.
- Add the herbs and chili to the pan. Cook for a minute or so stirring briskly together, season with salt and stir again.
- Place about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the middle of each spinach leaf. Fold in the edges and roll up carefully.
- Place the Stuffed leaves into a greased oven proof dish, pour over a little of the reserved juices, about 1/4 of a pint.
- Cover the dish with foil and cook in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes
- When the spinach is ready, drain, reserving the juices, transfer onto a rice filled (my favorites are jasmine or basmati) serving dish, pour juices over leaves and rice right before serving.
Learn more about Sonia here:www.soniamontez.com
Image provided courtesy of Sonia Montez
Guest Blogger Ariela Rose is a student and Pilates instructor from Boston, MA. She currently attends Temple University in Philadelphia, PA where she majors in magazine journalism.