3 years, 5 months.
I get it that “plant-based families” like us live a much different lifestyle than mainstream America, but I know we can still have fun and “be normal.”
And hopefully, these letters I write to you each day demonstrate that.
Granted, we don’t really go to restaurants, and I suppose that’s not normal.
One of the main reasons is we’re too cheap; which I plan to write more about later…
But the biggest reason we don’t go out to eat is because we can’t/don’t trust what’s in the food at most places.
It’s one thing to avoid all animal products (including butter, cheese, eggs, lard, etc.) but for our family, it’s more than that.
We care about avoiding foods with GMOs. We don’t trust foods that have been compromised by Monsanto because we believe they are a science experiment on the human body.
In 2013, one million Americans idenitified themselves as vegan (that’s 2.5% of the population), while another 7.3 million identified as vegetarians. That’s a lot of people, actually.
Well, I would have to assume we’re not the only plant-based Americans who hardly ever visit restaurants anymore…
Mainstream American restaurants like Red Lobster and Abblebee’s have lost us as customers as we’ve began watching documentaries like Forks Over Knives, which clearly spell out the connection between getting cancer and the consumption of animal products; as well as what to eat instead, to still get the nutrition we need- perhaps even getting much more than we were getting before!
So if we’re not spending our money at places like those anymore, where are we spending it instead?
Well, as for our family, at least… we’re not.
In other words, I see a largely untapped market: Non-GMO, plant-based, organic restaurants.
I think there’s a lot of money not being made off of people like us.
But that can be tricky for businesses trying to legitimately invite us in.
I know I wouldn’t take a restaurant seriously if they served soda, which is full of GMOs, chemicals, artificial colors and processed sugar; all of which are ingredients I run from. (Diet soda contains even more chemicals I don’t trust.)
It would sort of be an insult if the place was trying to present itself as not simply just “vegan friendly,” but a Non-GMO, plant-based, organic restaurant.
Perhaps my motto, as a vegan, is a quote from Hippocrates:
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
What that means is that if a businessman was clever enough to start a franchise of restaurants that only sold food that was non-GMO, plant-based, organic, and free of artificial flavors, and colors… and avoided oils and gluten… and didn’t use microwaves…
Then I think that businessman could make money off of people like us.
I say that because that’s exactly what happened this past weekend. Mommy found a Groupon for a place called Greens Cafe at Symmetry, here in Nashville.
We loved it so much that we ended up completely missing the Vanderbilt scrimmage game we were so excited about. We showed up as everyone was leaving. Oops.
But it was really nice for the three of us just to hang out at a café for brunch on a Saturday morning and not have to worry about anything; mainly the food, but for me, I was happy that I had no dishes to clean up.
(I may talk about this too much to you in these letters, but I do a lot of dishes. Living the plant-base life means extra dishes, like the food-processor, for example.)
I do predict within the next decade, more places like this vegan café will be springing up; especially in the mainstream franchises.
Did you know I am a prophet?
Not really. I just know there’s money not being made out there and there’s men with slicked-back hair, wearing nice suits, who are eager to start making that money off of families like us.
And I wouldn’t be insulted if they tried.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
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3 years, 4 months.
One of my jobs as “the dad” has always been to distract you from getting into trouble, or getting bored, while in public.
Over the weekend, Mommy had a haircut appointment at a salon, thanks to a Groupon.
I was able to distract you for about 8 minutes with the one magazine that wasn’t intended for actual desperate housewives… a hunting magazine, in which we only looked at the animals that had not been shot yet.
Hey, that’s just me being creative.
So I suggested we take a walk outside to see the other places in the shopping center.
We started out by watching the people exit the drive-through at Starbucks. But after only three cars, you were ready to run.
The shop right next to where Mommy was getting her haircut was a nails salon. The front door happened to be open, since it was nice outside.
You peaked in and saw the workers wearing masks over their noses and mouths to protect them from the fumes.
Your instant (and loud) response: “Hey, it’s the dentist!”
Then you ran down the sidewalk to check out the other stores. However, none of the others were open.
So we headed back by the nails salon. By that point, the owner was standing in the doorway, smiling.
I explained to him that you thought he was a dentist.
He went along with it. He then asked you if you have been brushing your teeth.
You assured him you have been. He offered to show you around the “dentist’s office” but you politely declined.
Once his wife caught a glimpse of you, she came over to ask you if you wanted to stay there at the “dentist’s” with them.
After you laughed and told her no, she surprised us both by making a face like a monkey (?) and flopped her arms around in the air, then started cheerfully grunting (?) to us, “Ooga-booga, booga-ooga!”
It was about that time that Mommy was all finished with her haircut and walked out of the salon. So we walked away with Mommy, backwards, smiling and nodding at the “dentist’s” wife; as she made you laugh all the way back to the car.
Yep, I guess we got what we were looking for:
Entertainment while Mommy got her haircut.
Uh… you’re welcome!
3 years, 4 months.
Saturday morning as we were getting ready to go to the Vanderbilt scrimmage game, which we actually missed because we were hanging way too long at a new vegan café we discovered thanks to a Groupon… you were being quiet and happy over at the window sill.
Finally, you announced to Mommy and me:
“Look, I’m killing this bug!”
Turns out, the thing was already dead. So I guess what you meant to say was that you were dissecting the bug… by smashing it with a vanilla-scented candle.
(All while wearing your “Just Like Daddy” t-shirt.)
Little black legs were everywhere.
I let you have your fun- after all, you’re a boy. You’re supposed to scrape up your elbows and knees… and make messes.
Granted, I don’t have to teach you to do this. You just naturally know where to find the right environment.
Again, I support it. You need to be a boy.
But it goes without saying that I provided you with the handheld vacuum cleaner and made you suck up all the loose bug body parts.
Then Sunday night while Mommy and I were preparing dinner, again you were being quiet and happy… the perfect combination for you to find trouble.
You had discovered some candy that you were supposed to save until Easter. Yeah, Mommy and I caught you “brown handed,” underneath your chair.
But we were laughing way too hard to be the least bit upset with you.
Besides, whether you had that non-approved candy then or on Easter, I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway. Delaying the sugar rush only to add it to the jackpot on Easter doesn’t make much sense, I guess.
Being a boy is fun. Discover your world. I will be there to laugh with you. And sometimes, at you.
Can you blame me?
Find fun crafts your kids can make with stuff you already have at home (except dead bugs).
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3 years, 4 months.
In the past few weeks, you have seen the Easter Bunny three times now. I really wish I could know exactly what you’re thinking when you see him.
My guess is that your perception of the Easter Bunny is similar to the way you perceive Trotro the donkey, on Netflix.
You have explained to me, “No, Daddy. Trotro is not a donkey or a boy… he’s a donkey boy.”
So that means the Easter Bunny is not a bunny or a man, but a bunny man.
I’m sure you are further confused by the fact that all three Easter Bunnies you’ve seen here recently looked completely different.
The yellow one in the middle of the Opry Mills Mall sort of looked like a grandpa, wearing wire framed glasses.
About 50 feet away was the brown bunny standing in the doorway of Build-A-Bear (who is not advertised as the Easter Bunny, but it is implied). That one apparently is female- and definitely the happiest. She silently giggles a lot.
Actually, I’ve never considered this, but there is no solid reason why the Easter Bunny has to be a male.
It’s confirmed then- I am officially open-minded to Build-A-Bear’s concept of the Easter Bunny… that he may be a she.
And then there’s the Kroger Easter Bunny.
He sort of followed us around like a puppy; which wasn’t a bad thing. I would say he was more like a real bunny and less of a bunny man.
I think his goal was for us to get our picture made with him. It worked.
He even watched as you got your hands painted.
Nothing says Easter like a snake and a hippo; per your request, of course.
Being a kid is great, isn’t it?
You get to live in a mysterious world where enchanted mutant bunnies appear in public in the weeks leading up to Easter, then all of the sudden get shy and sneak in during the middle of the night to give you candy and toys.
Sounds a little passive-aggressive, though… right? You don’t question that at all and neither did I, at your age.
Logic isn’t so important to you at this stage in life. I miss that.
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3 years, 4 months.
While you’ve been enjoying the splendor of Band-Aids for quite a while now, or as you refer to them, “tattoos,” it wasn’t truly until this past weekend that you really needed them.
Saturday morning we were helping our next door neighbor Rachel move her elliptical to the other side of the neighborhood, where the community yard sale was going on.
(Fortunately, the thing had wheels on the bottom.)
On the walk back to our house, you were running ahead of me on the sidewalk, in flip-flops.
Granted, I did indeed yell out to you, “Jack, slow down! Let me catch up to you.”
It was precisely 5 seconds later that you fell down, scraping your elbows and knees.
There really wasn’t much blood at all, but it was enough to scare you.
After all, you’ve never really fallen down and gotten hurt before. And that’s pretty amazing, actually!
I can’t believe that you made it until nearly age 3 and a half before your first real accidental injury. Had you not been wearing flip-flops, I doubt it would have even happened.
You’re a boy. You’re supposed to get cut up and bruised on a fairly regular basis, right? That’s how I remember it, first hand in the 1980s.
I find it interesting that you typically remain so unscathed…
Makes me wonder if there’s any way I’m a helicopter parent who is in denial? I try to give you all the practical freedom that a modern day American dad can give his son.
Or maybe you’re just now getting to the age where you can really start getting into trouble?
While I hate to see you get hurt, there is definitely a part of me that is proud to see you growing up, like a little boy should- with scraped elbows and knees.
And well-earned Mater Band-Aids.
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