Archive for the ‘
Health ’ Category
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
2 years, 6 months.
Because of my legitimate fear of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, I am trying to counteract the numbness in my left shoulder, wrist, and hand by working those muscles on a daily basis.
Therefore, last week I started a daily habit of stopping by the playground near my office to do pull-ups.
I imagine it’s quite a random sight at 1:15 every afternoon in Aspen Grove Park to see some random guy wheel in on his mountain bike, set down his book bag and helmet, do several pull-ups on the playground, then speed off into the distance.
Predictably, there are always a few moms with their young kids already there when I arrive.
My most awkward encounter so far happened about a week ago.
There was a grandmother with her daughter- a mom who was about my age, accompanied by her own daughter who was about your age.
In the non-creepiest way I knew how, I approached the 7 foot high monkey bars. Immediately, the three of them all looked up at me, seemingly concerned.
I felt the need to explain:
“Hi, I work in one of the offices nearby. I come here everyday now to do my pull-ups because I type all day on a computer, and this helps me.”
The grandmother responded:
“Well, thank you explaining that…”. The tone and look on her face was completely serious. She meant what she was saying.
From that point, she began rationalizing out loud, trying to convince herself as well as her grown daughter, that I was there basically to “blow off steam” from the stress of working in an office.
That wasn’t the case at all. My job doesn’t stress me out at all. I love my job.
However, I felt it to be in my best interest to leave immediately, without trying to further justify my existence. So I did.
I’m too cheap to pay for a gym membership; not to mention, I’d rather be outside anyway, breathing fresh air and feeling the sunlight on my skin. So the combination of mountain biking and doing pull-ups on the playground is like a free gym membership to me.
Sure, it looks weird to onlookers, but the only rule I saw on the park sign was against people smoking there- not against adults showing up without a child.
For me, what this story reveals is that each parent has certain things they see as a red flag; some possible threat to their child’s safety and well-being. I know I’ve got mine. (And I’ve learned not to mention them on the Internet anymore!)
I’m just a harmless dad of a 2 and a half year-old son who is using the city park for a minute or two as part of his daily exercise routine. But that’s not how it looks to everybody. To some, I am the childless creepy guy in the park.
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
2 years, 5 months.
You were born in an interesting age, to interesting parents, who happened to be part of the rapidly growing minority of Americans who choose to live a lifestyle in which animal products are shunned for the sake of strict veganism (like me) or strict vegetarianism (like Mommy.)
As for you, you’re the kid caught in the middle of it, not realizing that we are making an important decision for you; at least for now. (What an appropriate shirt for you to be wearing today: Pizza vs. Broccoli.)
It used to be that vegans and vegetarians were perceived as predictable stereotypes; hippies who didn’t bathe. Not to mention, they looked down on anyone who didn’t share the same lifestyle and beliefs as they did.
I think of those animal rights ads that use shock value to get the attention of carnivores, often using images of nearly nude women or the slaughter of animals.
That’s not me or what I stand for.
The truth is, I don’t want everyone to go vegan, like me. Just as important, I don’t think everyone should be vegan. It’s not for everybody.
I don’t believe in forcing or pressuring my beliefs upon anyone for any reason. If someone is influenced by a conversation of mine, then so be it- that happens everyday to everybody.
Part of the process of becoming an individual is by (ironically?) collecting the ideas of other people you respect. That process, which included several pivotal documentaries on Netflix, led me to my extreme (yet not-that-weird-anymore) lifestyle.
Really, though, the main reason I don’t want everyone to become a vegan is because it seems like that would drive up the demand for organic foods, causing a shortage in supply, causing a hike in the prices of our groceries.
I’m not convinced there’s enough organic kale and chia seeds for even half of America to live this way.
So I best stop talking about how happy I am to have found this lifestyle and the positive health benefits (as well as, peace of mind) it brings our family.
It’s funny to think how 5 years ago, no one could have paid me enough money to go vegan for the rest of my life. Now, I’m trying to think how much money would be enough for me to go back to my former lifestyle, permanently.
I best stop trying to make our family seem relatively normal and decent.
However, to not share helpful and relevant information to curious people; well, that just seems selfish.
Hmm… the classic vegan dilemma.
I’m stressing out a little bit now. I need some vegan chocolate cookies…
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
2 years, 5 months.
A few weeks ago in “5 Reasons Your Facebook Friends Are Going Vegan,” I mentioned that you and Mommy were practicing recipes for cupcakes for my 32nd birthday.
The outcome: Mommy and I agree that my vegan cupcakes (the Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes With Almond Buttercream ones from the vegan recipe blog, Oh She Glows) were so good, they were actually better than those trendy “$4 cupcakes” that we used to buy.
We were able to enjoy all the physical and psychological thrills of eating chocolate cupcakes, but without the guilt hangover afterwards. (The fat in the cupcakes comes from almond milk and olive oil, not animal products or bi-products.)
They were so perfecto, we’re going to make them again this weekend. Lucky us!
(Yes, I meant to say perfecto.)
As a vegan, it is nearly impossible to find vegan chocolate.
It’s one thing to find chocolate that just so happens to not contain milk or eggs, or even honey, but that’s not good enough for most vegans like me.
I also will not accept high fructose corn syrup (Monsanto much?) nor food dyes derived from bugs (Carmine or Crimson Lake) or petroleum (Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6).
As I’ve mentioned before, 2.5 percent of the country now identifies themselves as “vegan,” up from 1 percent in 2009.
In other words, the public’s demand for vegan chocolate, as well as chocolate treats and snacks, has more than doubled in the past 3 years; in theory, at least.
So even if I sound extreme in my search for vegan chocolate, I’m clearly not alone.
Annie’s Homegrown, an admirable brand that keeps finding its name randomly mentioned by me on a regularly basis, is clever enough they actually have a “Vegan Snacks” tab on their website, featuring my personal favorite: Chocolate Bunny Grahams.
I should point out that Annie’s Homegrown is the only affordable and easily obtainable vegan snack source I have been exposed to so far.
For example, for my birthday Mommy bought me these awesome coconut cocoa ball truffles from some fancy vegan company, but they probably cost as much as a couple of bald eagle heads.
In other words, affordable vegan chocolate is a rare find.
Even if the major food companies ever pick up on this growing demand, I doubt they will be able to make a product in which vegans approve.
It’s probably not worth it to them to market to the 3% of the population who (I assume, if they’re like me) generally distrusts food companies who use petroleum and bugs in their food designed for children to eat.
We’ll stick with the plant-based stuff; even if we have to make it ourselves.
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
2 years, 4 months.
In theory, a family who buys no meat products should have a lower grocery bill each week. We don’t, though.
However, we still spend less money on food; it just depends on a person’s definition of groceries…
As you lifted up the “tailgate” (box flap) of your “pick-up truck” (Chobani yogurt box) and started to “drive it” (pinched the box with a pair of salad tongs) it somehow prompted me to discuss with Mommy how much our grocery bill has went up or down, compared to the days before we were aware of things like Yellow 5, sodium laurel sulfate, and Monsanto.
Our grocery bill is actually the same amount as it was when we were carnivores. This is because we make up for the cost of meat by buying higher quality (and more expensive) vegetables, fruits, and grains.
It’s not just about avoiding meat, it’s about avoiding toxic chemicals like artificial colors, flavors, MSG, and GMO’s.
Since our conversion, we have learned there are actually few food brands that we trust anymore. One of the few is Chobani.
While most brands try to disguise their ingredients, Chobani is very clear about what is and is not in their products.
They are one of the few exceptions we have found; as well as Annie’s Homegrown. We simply ignore most other brands, because we don’t trust them.
We are paying for quality and it’s worth it, to us.
So even though our grocery bill is the same, what has definitely changed is the amount of money we spend on eating at restaurants. It used to be between $100 and $200 a month, now it’s basically zero.
It’s not a moral issue; instead, it just seems pointless by now. Mommy has, by default, become a vegan/vegetarian chef for our family; thanks in part to the Oh She Glows recipe website.
Making delicious healthy meals is now becoming a sacred (and fun) thing for our family. It is difficult for us to trust random strangers at restaurants who we have to assume may be cooking our food in or with mysterious chemicals. Not to mention, a restaurant meal typically doesn’t ensure leftovers for lunch the next day, the way a home-cooked meal easily does.
To answer the question of whether it’s cheaper to go vegan/vegetarian, the answer is ultimately yes. We now save between at least $100 to $200 a month by simply avoiding restaurants alone.
Friday, April 5th, 2013
2 years, 4 months.
Two days ago on The Huffington Post, an article was published entitled “Interest In Vegan Diets On The Rise: Google Trends Notes Public’s Increased Curiosity In Veganism.”
The title intrigued me, as I have recently been noticing that several of my Facebook friends have been discussing the fact that their families have either began leaning towards being vegans or have recently officially converted.
Sure, maybe I’m more keen to notice, since my own conversion from vegetarianism to veganism a month ago. But after reading the article, I realized it wasn’t just in my head:
“A 2012 study commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group and undertaken by Harris Interactive found that the 2.5 percent of the country identified themselves as “vegan,” up from 1 percent in 2009. That may not seem like a drastic leap, but it is when you consider that the number of vegans has more than doubled in just three years.”
My own downward spiral began with a severe and “incurable” case of eczema which led me to going kosher and cutting out processed sugar, which encouraged me to start actually eating real fruit and veggies.
Then I stopped craving meat because I was eating more whole fruits and vegetables. Then the thought of cheese started grossing me out. Now all the food I eat comes from plants; no animals- no meat, no eggs, no dairy… I even avoid honey.
Now, it’s like I constantly feel a buzz; a buzz in which I am alert, my thoughts are clear and quick, and my sinus and allergy problems have all gone away.
What about the fact I can’t eat birthday cakes or doughnuts or ice cream anymore? I don’t miss those things. I don’t desire to have my mood or physical state of being lifted, because it’s already there.
I don’t want to mess with this buzz. That’s what will happen if I eat animal products again, so I’m not even tempted.
Not to mention, I’m staying plenty full off all the protein, fiber, and nutrients I’m getting from just fruits, vegetables, whole grain rice and pasta, beans, seeds, and plenty of water.
As for my 32nd birthday coming up in a couple weeks, you and Mommy are currently practicing recipes from the vegan recipe blog, Oh She Glows.
So why are vegan Facebook status updates showing up in news feeds? Here’s what I think:
1. More “normal” people are doing it now, not just expected stereotypes. (Am I considering myself as one of the normal ones?)
2. This may disprove the sentence before this one, but more celebrities are now vegan and that influences the rest of us sometimes more than we realize.
3. The majority of daily Facebook users are from “Generation Why,” as in, “Why am I eating mysterious ingredients that are linked to obesity, depression, hyperactivity, cancer, and diabetes?”
4. Netflix streaming, which was quite instrumental in my conversion, is providing us with information we didn’t have access to before; like about the treatment of the animals we eat, the relationship between eating animal proteins and cancer, and realizing that plants themselves provide all the nutrition we need to begin with. I challenge anyone to watch all the following documentaries and keep from going vegan:
Supersize Me, Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Hungry For A Change.
5. The price of meat is rising, even with factory-farmed animals eating that infamous Monsanto corn.
Knowing that the number of vegans has more than doubled in the past three years alone, I wonder what will happen in the next three years… especially if seemingly normal people keep talking about it on Facebook.