Rocking the veg lifestyle: Propagandhi guitarist Sulynn Hago

The local axe slinger who became a member of (all vegan) punk band last year talks about living and playing without meat.

We reached out to three local musicians to get a feel for their eating habits and how they relate to their jobs and daily lives. The answers were rather enlightening. Here’s what Sulynn Hago — guitarist and newest member of legendary (all-vegan) politipunk band Propagandhi — had to say. More Q&As with Andy Stern and Brad Gilmore here and here.

Why vegan?
It’s a caring lifestyle. On a personal level, it’s care for my health and my well-being. It challenges me creatively as a cook, and although it can be more work at times, I feel it’s important to be knowledgeable about what I’m putting in my body and the products I use.

Ethically, it’s caring for the well-being of all living things. I love animals and don’t want anyone or anything to ever suffer. I also don’t like anyone being taken advantage of for someone else’s gain in any situation. That’s how I see the meat industry. Honestly, if i’m eating chicken, I might as well be eating my dog. It’s sad and unnecessary.

What are some of your favorite vegan staples? Dessert?
There are so many, and they change depending on my mood. In this cooler weather, I’m enjoying beet borscht, black bean burgers, cauliflower buffalo wings, and butternut squash alfredo. You can really make any meal vegan, especially with the help of two of my favorite cookbooks: Chloe’s Kitchen and Isa Does It. My extravagance is Kite Hill’s almond-based vegan cheeses.

My girlfriend’s daughter, Chloe, is the best vegan baker I know. She’s amazing, so I’m pretty spoiled in the dessert department. On New Years, she made a trifle with brownie, crumbled cookie, and coconut milk whip cream layers that may have been my ultimate favorite. She’ll make a vegan version of any dessert, and it’s insane how you can’t even tell. As for restaurants, Cider Press Cafe’s Affogato is one of the best vegan desserts I’ve ever had.

Do you cook?

Yes, often. That’s a hard part about being vegan and working late. There aren’t many late night places that have healthy vegan options, so we cook even when we’re beat. My girlfriend and I veganize our parents’ traditional Cuban/Puerto Rican recipes. Black beans and rice with tostones makes an appearance pretty often at our house. It’s quick, easy, and delicious.

How do you supplement any dietary needs?

Lots of greens. We religiously frequent the St. Pete Saturday Morning Market to stock up on some awesome organic produce. We steer from processed foods as much as possible, using tofu and a variety of nuts, but rarely ever eat imitation meats.

How vegan are you? Does it extend to clothing, furniture, cosmetics, etc.?

I make the conscious decision to avoid using and/or owning any products that use animals from boots to shampoos to socks to guitar straps. I read tags a lot, haha. I don’t even second guess it any more.

Favorite vegan-friendly hang-out(s) around Tampa Bay? What do you eat there?

Cider Press Cafe rules. I really like their Three Amigos taco dish. Vegan pho from Bamboozle Tea Lounge. Vegan ginger chicken or roasted tofu over rice noodles at Trang Cuisine. The best pad thai ever at Thai Gourmet Market, and papaya salad at 9 Bangkok Thai.

Do you ever cheat?

Nope

When Propagandhi was seeking a new guitarist, was being vegan a must, preferred but not required, or a happy coincidence?
Being vegan wasn’t a requirement, but they did mention that everyone in their band, including crew, eats vegan. It was a total happy coincidence, and one of many reasons I really wanted to be part of the group.

How is everyone in the band being vegan a benefit?

It doesn’t require a discussion over where to go to eat, and I don’t have to explain myself which is a big deal when you’re traveling with a group for a few weeks at a time. I guess I finally feel normal like I did when I ate meat. When it’s time to eat, it feels like the everyday activity it is at home.

What are your eating habits when on tour?

I always Google vegan food in the towns we’re in and hope I find something good. I’ve come across a number of places that have a variety of vegan options. If not, I just work with what I have and remove dairy items. As for go-to snacks, I end up eating a lot of potato chips when no other options are in sight.

How do you stay fit? Anything in particular you eat before/after your workout? Any favorite work-out songs?
Yoga is my main exercise. I like to keep my body moving and strengthen the muscles in an isolated yet communal activity. I especially need to stretch after sitting in a chair for hours practicing or teaching and try to practice yoga at least four times a week. I go to Yoga Loft in Ybor where my girlfriend Marisa is an instructor. She will be teaching at Veg Out!, actually. I don’t have any particular meal plans that revolve around exercising. Before shows, I try to reduce spicy, greasy, or heavy foods because they linger which feels terrible when I’m playing. Lately I listen to Beyonce or Judas Priest on my way to yoga to get pumped.

Propagandhi has already sold out the first date of their first tour in 2016, a week-long run in Eastern Canada that launches Fri., Feb. 5, in Vancouver.

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