Archive for the ‘
Must Read ’ Category
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.
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
2 years, 4 months.
You started noticing that Mommy and I hold hands and pray before we eat dinner every night.
It’s not some beautiful, poetic thing. We let our words be few: “Dear God, we thank you for this food today and all you have blessed us with. Amen.”
Last week you started wanting in on the action. You smiled at us and lifted your hands out for us to hold them.
So now before dinner, and at night as we’re putting you to bed, and before our family leaves the house for our separate ways in the morning, we pray together.
And you now not only expect it, but I can clearly see you like being a part of it.
I actually think you’re pretty aware of what’s going on. You know who God is from your Beginner’s Bible, as well as from church.
Tonight as I sang “Away In A Manger” as part of your bedtime routine, you stopped me in the middle of the 1st verse and said, “Jesus makes!”
I asked you what Jesus makes and you responded:
“Jesus makes oatmeal… and beans and rice!”
My immediate uproar of laughter pretty much killed the mood for helping you get to sleep. Mommy later explained to me you were referring to the 2nd verse, which she sings to you: “No crying he makes.”
I think it’s really cool that you want to be a part of our family’s prayer times throughout the day. I figure at best, what you gather from us praying is that we not only believe in God, but we trust him.
We have no idea what’s in our future, five minutes from now or five years from now. But we want to be in God’s favor and we know that means loving others as ourselves.
I know that’s a very simple way of explaining our faith to you, but I think if I as your dad can remember that much of it, I could have the faith of a child.
From what I understand, that’s actually a good thing.
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
2 years, 4 months.
Yesterday I played an April Fool’s prank, pretending like our family was going to stop being vegetarians.
While it’s easy to put a label on people who don’t eat meat (vegetarians) or those don’t eat dairy or eggs either (vegans), there isn’t really a word for people who don’t eat petroleum.
I know that sounds weird, but a lot of people eat petroleum everyday in their food and absorb it into their skin through their personal care products. The easiest way to spot it is on the back of the label of product, in the form of Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and/or Red 40.
These food dyes have been linked to causing allergic reactions, cancer and hyperactivity in children; though many people deny this, saying there is not substantial evidence to support that claim.
Last month a petition went viral, which pleaded with Kraft to stop using petroleum-derived yellow food dyes in their mac and cheese.
I’m not too worried about what Kraft chooses to do, since we buy Annie’s Homegrown products, including Organic Mac and Cheese, Cheddar Bunnies crackers, and Organic Fruit snacks; none of which ever contain artificial dyes.
This is a free market, so I say let America decide: Does America want to wait around for a big name company to stop feeding people petroleum or will America just start buying the products of a company like Annie’s who respect their customers enough not to put Yellow 5 or Yellow 6 in it in the first place?
But it’s not just food, it’s personal products as well. Finding soap, shampoo, and lotion without Yellow 5 or 6 is not an easy thing to do. Our family learned we basically have to shop at either Whole Foods Market or Harris Teeter for those items.
Especially with you being prone to eczema, we learned from the very beginning that Yellow 5 & 6 dyes are bad news for your skin.
So while there really isn’t a name for people who don’t eat or absorb petroleum-derived products containing Yellow 5 & 6, as well as Red 40, once a label for us is born, I’ll start identifying our family as… whatever that is.