In the heart of Historic Filipinotown I’ve discovered a little slice of heaven. For pesco-vegans like me – people who eat fish but no other meat – the Filipino-owned and operated Tribal Café is paradise.
On the corner of Temple Street and Belmont, this funky hole in the wall café has a casual and inviting ambiance. The main wall inside presents intriguing art, much of it created by Filipinos, which changes every week.
The dining room contains small tables and chairs, many of them filled with folks practicing the literary arts. Framing both sides of the room, the cafe has three industrial sized refrigerators. These units house “the secret” of Tribal Café’s success.
The refrigerators contain an array of fresh vegetables and fruits, boxes and bags and cartons of them. The owner, Joshua Jose, who has been on-site every time I’ve visited, strongly advocates for green juice and smoothies to manifest optimum health. These are his “ammunition.”
For those who are new to the powerful notion of green juice or green smoothies, here’s the 411: Green juicing involves using lots of fresh green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, or chard, in combination with your favorite fruits in a blender or juicer. Green leaves contain all the essential minerals, vitamins and amino acids that humans need for optimal health. When they’re cooked, you lose most, if not all, of their nutrients. Examination of prehistoric humans has revealed that they ate a copious amount of green leaves — along with fruits, blossoms, seeds and insects. When the industrial revolution began, people transitioned dramatically from consuming whole foods to convenient processed foods. These processed food are high in calories and low in nutrition and one of the main causes of serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Numerous scientifically documented studies of ill people have shown that by eating more whole foods — particularly drinking green juice or smoothies – unwell individuals are able to cure themselves of their illnesses (including cancer!) by loading up on green leaves and fruits.
Traditional Filipino cuisine, unfortunately, is rich in processed food. Filipinos eat a lot of meat (fried, stewed), white rice, white bread and noodles.
The vegetables are often cooked by boiling or frying, which destroys many of their nutrients. It’s unsurprising that the number one killer of Filipinos in and out of the Philippines is heart disease.
How refreshing to see a Filipino-owned café that serves vegan cuisine and green drinks! Though they also offer non-vegetarian food, Tribal Café’s focus is to provide low-cost, healthier food choices concentrating on health-supportive, plant-based whole foods – the foods that contain micronutrients our bodies need for nourishment and healing. According to Mr. Jose, the amazing “Green Detox” is one of their most popular green juices. It’s made from wheatgrass, assorted leafy greens, fruits, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and flaxseed.
This kind of spicy-herby-fruity drink is good for detox, weight loss, diabetes control and prevention of chronic diseases. Mr. Jose says, “I hope to develop Tribal Cafe as a ‘healing café,’” where we are able to impart as much information as possible on the subject of nutrition, healthier food choices and lifestyle changes.”
Mr. Jose, who opened Tribal Café in 2005, reports “Filipino-Americans have the highest incidence of chronic diseases among Asian-Americans in the US. This sad state is largely the consequence of the traditional food we consume at home and in the restaurants. To improve our community’s poor health, we need some drastic changes in the way perceive our food, the way we acquire ingredients, and the way they we consume.
We Filipinos should learn the spiritual value of food as nourishment to the various organs of our body and not merely as a source of pleasure or instant gratification.”