SARAB SINGH

Drummer, Producer

December 2016
A first generation Indian Sikh from Philly to NYC to LA, Sarab Singh is no stranger to cultural differences in diet and how delicious and satisfying vegan/vegetarian food can be. Growing up, Sarab’s family ate all types of cuisine, as his mother always wanted him and his brother to feel as assimilated as possible. In the 80s/90s, there was little awareness on what was really going on behind the scenes. Plus, the vegan options were nowhere near where they are now, but even then, dairy was never something that appealed to Sarab. Not only did Sarab’s mother ignite his interest in diversity of food, but she inspired his passion for music, as she had always been on the artistic side of things, playing sitar, tabla, guitar, and singing since she was a child. Like mother, like son, Sarab surely maintains the artistic torch in his family. From touring drummer to creating his own music and beats, Sarab Singh is an amazing artist/performer, not to mention, he does it all with a consistent smile on his face!

“There is so much sadness in this world, and it's important to acknowledge it, but it's also important to never lose sight of the fact that there is so much good, and so many good people, and that we can lift each other up and make change and make this place better for every little soul that happens to be alive at this moment, and all of the moments to come. The reason that I smile so much is that I think at some point I learned that it makes people happy. That's a huge reason of why I get up in the morning. To bring joy and love to all of the beings that I meet throughout the day. I’ve realized in the last few years that my strongest talents are not my musical abilities, but my ability to spread love to those around me (I might have an ex-girlfriend or two who might disagree about that though, haha!).” - Sarab



"California has always been such a forward looking, progressive state in so many areas, and the food movement is of course one of them."

Cali is the most vegan-friendly state, but at the same time, the entertainment industry is the most cut throat ever. How do you explain a non-empathic, ego-filled industry being on the forefront of veganism?

Well, I almost feel like the entertainment business has no choice! California has always been such a forward looking, progressive state in so many areas, and the food movement is of course one of them. The capital of the entertainment industry is obviously located right here in this state, so I think the influence is almost automatic. Like, some Hollywood big-shots want to be cool and on the scene and go eat a lunch that won't make them feel terrible, so someone says, "let's go to Cafe Gratitude, so we can feel cool." Luckily, they can feel cool and be eating vegan, which is like a little victory for us, sneaking in the back door or something. I also do feel that there are so many artists in LA who are emotionally in tune to both the planet itself and to all of the human and non-human inhabitants of this planet, and that we need to love and respect all of it. It's these types of people who are able to fend off any of the negativity that comes from the more non-empathetic part of this business. Thankfully, there are so many incredible vegan establishments that are here and continue to arrive, and their positive influence continues to seep into this culture out here.

So, you grew up in Philly. How would you compare their vegan scene to the one that surrounds you in Los Angeles?"

Well, when I was living in the Philly area in the 90s, there really wasn't too much of a vegan/veg scene. If you wanted that cuisine, you would have to go to some type of an Asian restaurant where food is often naturally vegan anyway. These days, I have been so impressed by the Philly veg scene. The restaurant Vedge is an incredible vegan foodie experience, Hip-City Veg is a great chain, and Blackbird Pizza is awesome, to name a few. Nothing though, compares to the LA vegan scene. Maybe Portland or San Francisco, but still, LA has so many wonderful options, whether it's American, Indian, Thai or Mexican. I feel so lucky to live here for that reason.
Your family is originally from India. How is veganism viewed in Indian culture and do you feel they are more vegan-friendly over America in general?

I would say that there is more of an awareness of vegetarianism in India than veganism. The cow is of course sacred for Hindu people, and so there is a huge vegetarian population. Dairy is still eaten quite a bit, as yogurt, paneer (cheese), and ghee (clarified butter) are a big part of Indian cuisine. For Sikh people, like myself, the reasons for eating meat are almost socio-economic. If you can afford to eat, as there are many people who cannot, then it becomes a status symbol to be able to serve chicken or lamb at the dinner party. Perhaps as the middle class grows in India, some of these things will change.

Does your family accept your views? Are any of them vegan? Do your friends share your vegan lifestyle?

My family most definitely accepts my vegan views. Although none of them are full vegan, there is very little meat eaten in my family and very rarely even brought into the house. I do have a few vegan friends, but more of them are non-vegans who are aware of how beautiful and powerful the vegan diet is. That's a great first step, and that acknowledgement is how people will find this lifestyle when they are ready. One of my closest friends in New York has been a vegan for about 20 years, and it was his influence over the years that helped lead me here. The only person that thinks I'm nuts for keeping a vegan diet is my grandmother.  It's very hard for her to understand why I wouldn't want any ghee in my aloo ghobi!



"For Sikh people, like myself, the reasons for eating meat are almost socio-economic."


"I do believe that climate change is the biggest issue of our time, and it was really sad to see that it was not part of even one of the presidential debates."

Your brother is a personality on Revolt TV who had the pleasure of meeting with Bernie Sanders. Do you think it’s our government’s responsibility to show more concern for our environment? As progressive as Bernie is, why do you think he’s not vegan?”

My brother is one of my biggest life influences, and the most talented and inspiring person in my life. He was actually the first person I knew to give up meat, and that was around 1998. I do believe that climate change is the biggest issue of our time, and it was really sad to see that it was not part of even one of the presidential debates. It's also quite sad to see that livestock is often not acknowledged as a major cause of carbon emissions (when in fact it accounts for around half of the global emissions) because of the meat lobby and their scary influence over lawmakers. As progressive as Bernie is, maybe he is from an older generation where being vegan is not as accessible as it is now. Whatever the reason, at least he is a major environmental advocate. I do believe that the more environmental awareness people have and the more we heal this planet, the less people will want to eat animals, especially those that come from inhumane and environmentally damaging places.

Is it hard for you to maintain vegan eating when touring? Any “on-the-road” tips?

It is definitely often very hard to find something vegan to eat in certain cities. It is getting easier, but it is still difficult in parts of the Midwest and the South. I am a big fan of the Vega Complete bars, and of course eating avocados whenever and wherever I can get them. Chipotle is great as well, especially now that they have the tofu sofritas available. I've also learned that oatmeal with a side of hash browns (as long as they are cooked in oil, which most of the time they are) is a great option at the Cracker Barrel type breakfast chains.
What do you think is the most common misconception of veganism? Why isn’t the point getting across? Do you think it could merely be lack of education?

I think the most common misconception of veganism is that it doesn't taste good, or that it's not as healthy. The reason most people don't have the true picture is that they often don't have vegan places to go and experience the food and culture in their towns/cities, and so, they simply aren't aware of how delicious it can be. I do think that it sometimes can be tricky to get all of one's nutrition needs from the vegan diet, but the same goes for a diet full of meat and dairy. I think it comes down to being aware of what your body needs and then knowing that all of those things can be found in a plant-based diet.

Some people promote militant veganism by spray painting fur coats for example, while others have a softer approach, by simply taking people out on a farm to meet animals one-on-one and show them they too have feelings. What do you think is the best approach and why?

I am a pacifist, and I always feel that the best way to reach people is through love, kindness, and understanding. I understand the need for the militant approach, but it is not how I would chose to reach people. I would prefer to understand why people choose the lifestyle they do, and then inform them of the effects of their choices, the possible alternatives that are available, and how transformational these alternatives are.




VEGAN COMPANY PLUG

Moo Shoes.I have been a big fan of this store for a long time. I used to shop here when I lived in NYC, and now they have arrived in Silverlake. They offer womens/mens shoes, handbags, wallets, and many other accessories all made of good vegan alternatives.

MUSIC PLUG

I just got off tour with Ingrid Michaelson, and I'm currently working with the band Powers, who are releasing a new record in February. A support slot/headlining tour will follow soon after. In addition, I have my own solo project called KLVR GRL, which is a live beat-production based project, using a mix of organic and electronic percussion. I should be releasing some music in the new year, but in the mean time, I'm doing some gigs at Satellite, Hotel Cafe, and other little spots on the east side of LA.

Special Thanks To: Crumbs & Whiskers
Photography By: Amanda Farmer