Posts Tagged ‘ cancer ’

Ask A Vegan Anything: Here’s Your Chance

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Starting today, I’m inviting the social media universe to “AMA”… ask me anything regarding our plant-based lifestyle.

I grew up during a time when it was normal to put my faith in finding the cure for cancer and disease by mailing in yogurt lids, running in races, and wearing ribbons.

Fortunately, in the past couple of years as the number of vegans in America has more than doubled, another option has begun spreading- thanks to Netflix documentaries and social media.

Turns out, your dad is one of those people who is attempting to positively (not narcissistically) set the record straight for anyone with sincere, curious questions; making myself a human Guinea pig for the world to see.

People who are like me believe there already is a cure for these cancers and diseases…but that the cure comes in a very inconvenient format:

Prevention (and reversal) through an exclusively plant-based diet of simply fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

It makes me think of the clever quote by Albert Einstein:

“Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.”

Obviously, I won’t live forever in this body and I don’t believe that a 100% plant-based diet makes me invincible. Still, I don’t want my future years with you to include me having diabetes or cancer, knowing there might be something I could have done to keep it from happening.

But I suppose until a person watches Forks Over Knives on Netflix, it’s difficult for them to see the simple scientific and historical connection between animal product consumption and disease.

For me, it’s common knowledge that dairy consumption is linked to allergy and sinus issues, overproduction of mucus, osteoporosis and breast cancer.

(This is TMI, but I stopped producing white or any colored mucus the weekend I became a vegan. It has only been clear and minimal since my conversion last April; not to mention, no sinus pressure or infections since then, whereas I previously had those issues for 22 years straight.)

And that meat consumption is linked to diabetes and prostate cancer.

And that as a vegan, by default, I consume less than 1% of my daily allowance of cholestrol for each day, because there’s not enough cholesterol in plants to register more than 0.99%.

I’ve checked a lot of nutritional labels over the past year, and have yet to find anything I eat (even “fatty” avocados, cashews, and almonds) that registers as more than “0%,” even though plant-based food do contain some cholestrol.

Granted, I personally understand the skepticism…

I’ve mentioned that just a few weeks before becoming a vegan, I made the statement, “Vegan are idiots!” Now here I am, having consumed no animal products in over a year.

Still breathing, full of energy, with no more allergy and sinus problems, with a weaker prescription for my glasses, and am overall healthier than I’ve ever been in my life.

To some, I am a walking contradiction. How can a person who eats no meat, dairy, eggs, or animal bi-products (marshmallows, pudding, candy containing artificial food dyes, etc.) get enough protein, fat, and vitamins?

It could be easy to assume, if nothing else, I’m secretly hungry all the time. Yet I’m not. When I’m hungry, I eat- and then I’m not hungry anymore.

Once I nixed animal products from my diet, I was forced to get the “living” nutrition from the unprocessed fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds that I was previously neglecting because I was instead consuming animal products and pseudo “healthy snacks” like yogurt, granola bars, and diet soda.

As a new wave vegan, who chooses a plant-based diet not necessarily because of animals’ rights but instead because of the obvious health benefits, I want to be a positive, inviting example of our family’s lifestyle.

What I want to do is start making myself more available and present, in real life and on social media, for curious people who have honest, sincere questions about how we live.

In the process, you will learn more about why our family lives the way we do. After all, you and Mommy are almost completely plant-based as well.

I wonder what people will ask me, now that they know that a friendly, mostly sane vegan is giving an open platform to ask questions about our plant-based lifestyle… I’m ready.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

 

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The Peculiar Public Demand For Non-GMO, Plant-Based Restaurants

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

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.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

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To Be One Of Those Cool “Half Marathon Parents”

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Now that on Facebook I’ve stopped engaging myself in conversations or debates involving anything political, religious, or regarding a plant-based lifestyle, or curing cancer through Gerson Therapy…

Or being sarcastic and therefore confusing people, or posting phony status updates meant to mock the desperate cries for attention and pity that are so abundant, well… Facebook just isn’t that entertaining to me anymore.

And I think Facebook is a better place now, without me playing that role. These days all I do on it is just publish my letters to you and “like” peoples’ pictures.

That’s it.

So basically, I’m only on Facebook for 5 minutes a day, looking at my friends’ pictures to learn if anyone is having a baby or just went on a trip.

Or, by default, seeing pictures of them running in a half marathon.

Through that process, I’ve realized the nirvana I wish to achieve on Facebook:

To be one of those cool parents who runs half marathons and otherwise leaves the general public guessing on their personal opinions and lifestyles.

To be someone who Facebook friends ultimately only know through pictures with no captions.

I admire those people. I think they are cool. I wouldn’t mind being a little mysterious… (As if this helps!)

Lucky for me, today is Mommy’s birthday! (She and I are the exact same age for 9 months of the year; and that 9 months begins today.)

So yesterday, the three of us went to Fleet Feet so Mommy could try on some new running shoes, with the advice and direction of an expert. After all, she and I have had our old running shoes since before we were married over 5 years ago.

And for the past couple of years, she’s been telling me she wants to run in a half marathon.

Though I’ve always encouraged her to do so, there evidently was something motivating about this birthday that caused her to decide to take the plunge… by actually buying the official, right shoes for it.

So as Mommy was picking out her shoes, I turned aside to her quickly as the sales associate was checking the back of the store for a different size shoe for her:

“Hey, should I get shoes too, and join you in that half marathon?” I asked.

The rest is history. It seems like only yesterday… oh wait, it was.

Mommy is now the proud new owner of a pair of New Balance’s- and for me, a pair of Mizuno’s.

This is a pretty big deal for us. Mommy and I get to have a hobby! We get to be somewhat of experts on a thing.

Even if it’s simply running for a sort of long distance in a race we’re not actually trying to win.

In the process of buying these new shoes and doing YouTube searches on running a half marathon, I am now quickly becoming familiar with “front foot running.”(When you run in place, you put your weight on the front of your foot, not your heel. “Front foot running” is using the running-in-place model to move forward, to keep from permanently damaging your joints.)

I have to admit, I’m starting to feel pretty cool all of the sudden… on my way to be one of those half marathon parents!

Not that Mommy needs a new hobby to be cool. She’s way cool. And way beautiful.

Not to mention, she’s so sincere and giving of a person. You and I are so blessed to have her in our family of three. But you already know that.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Parenting and Legalized Marijuana: A Glimpse into the Future

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

One year.

If/when marijuana becomes legalized, how will that affect parenting in our nation? Will America go to pot? Or are the overworked, stressed-out, anxiety-ridden parents better off filling the void with prescription anti-depressants?

I consider myself an evangelical Christian, a self-admitted health nut, and a law-abiding citizen. Here’s the twist: I am a proud cannabis activist. In other words, I openly support the full legalization of marijuana. Yet I’ve never in my life actually consumed the stuff.

If you’ve simply been reading the story headlines on MSN.com within the past couple of years, you may have noticed the growing number of articles talking about the further legalization of marijuana; especially as more and more states having been approving its use for medical reasons- like for cancer sufferers, for example.

The issue of legitimate marijuana use is a slippery slope, thanks to the fact that the plant happens to have plenty of undeniable medical purposes.

Having grown in up the Eighties during the prime time of “Just Say No” and the D.A.R.E. program, I believed that marijuana was a dangerous drug that wrecked peoples’ lives.

But after struggling with the knowledge that marijuana has been used by human civilization for over 5000 years and there has never been one documented overdose, yet thousands die every year in America from prescription drugs, even aspirin, I figured something might be fishy about the stigma of pot.

Another thing that bothered me is that we all can easily think of 5 people we personally know who have a DUI for alcohol, but none of us can name just one person who has a DUI for marijuana alone.

So I spent a couple of months researching to find out why marijuana is actually illegal. I posted my findings on my personal blog, NickShell.com, which also hosts  ”Dad from Day One,” the blog that spun off to become The Dadabase.

In October 2009, I published a 10 part series called “The Cannabis Conspiracy.” Its most popular segment, The Funny Thing About Marinol, has received over 17,000 hits; it is currently the 3rd most popular blog post of my 550+ posts on NickShell.com.

Marijuana possession may land you a life sentence in prison, whereas murder or rape often does not; yet the mysterious cannabis plant is quite intriguing to us, especially on the Internet where people can read about it privately.

We laughed at the pot brownies scene in Transformers 2, yet condemned Michael Phelps when he celebrated his Olympic victory with a bong hit. Americans have a weird relationship with marijuana. We know in our hearts it’s just a medicinal plant, but we continue to allow good (non-famous) people to be arrested over it; and force cancer sufferers to live without it, in many of our states.

That just doesn’t sound very Christian to me.

Based on how much actual knowledge we know about marijuana now, as compared to even 20 years ago, I am convinced it’s only a matter of time (maybe 10 years?) before it’s legal again. (It was legal from the beginning of time… until 1937.)

A lot of it comes down to a changing public perception, especially within recent years as the taboo of it has tremendously faded. Obviously, I don’t fear writing about my pro-marijuana stance here on Parents.com. It’s not something I felt the need to clear by my editors first. But a decade ago, it might have been different.

Honestly, is this even a controversial topic or am I simply preaching to the choir? I don’t know; but I do at least want to initiate the conversation.

So let’s imagine a world where anyone 21 or older can go to the store and buy a box of joints or just grow the stuff in their backyard.

Does that mean parents start abusing or abandoning their kids? Does the entire country become violent and/or unmotivated? Or is it scarier to think about the fact that an estimated 2 million Americans smoke marijuana every day? Obviously a good number of them are parents.

As a parent, I refuse to be involved in illegal activity. After all, marijuana is dangerous… because it’s illegal to obtain. But if it wasn’t illegal, then it’d be… a safe, natural relaxer that has been never proven to give anyone cancer; much less kill them or even cause someone to get a DUI.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and think about that one.

Image (top): Medical marijuana via Shutterstock.

Image (bottom): Cannabis background via Shutterstock.

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The Unimaginable Thought of Losing Your Child

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Eleven months.

Yesterday I had to leave work about an hour early to pick up my son Jack from KinderCare: He had a temperature of 103. I knew that because he was still playful, still eating, and not showing any other signs of distress, this would be a “give him fever reducer” solution and not a “take him to the doctor” kind of thing.

But still, there’s something about knowing your child is not well that is undeniably unnerving; the thought that saving your child is not immediately up to you.

Sure, I can protect him from certain things. Admittedly, perhaps I’m overprotective: I won’t let the little guy watch TV or even drink juice. (Yeah, I one of those kind of parents!)

I’ve tried to imagine what I would do if something ever happened to him. How would I psychologically deal with that? Would I be the kind of dad that literally loses his mind if he lost his son? I want to believe that my son will outlive me. It’s both morbid and realistic to think about these dark situations, but occasionally, when I catch myself off guard, I do.

However, the world is full of parents who literally have had to lose their child, including Ruthe and Michael Rosen, whose 14-year old daughter, Karla, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

But they decided to turn their pain into purpose.

They transformed Karla’s courage and solid optimism into a legacy of community service when they founded The Let It Be Foundation. It’s a nonprofit organization that helps families with children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.

The Let It Be Foundation provides services including opportunities for family recreation, housekeeping, grocery shopping and meals, and help in meeting the needs of the child’s siblings. This assistance enables the children and their families to maintain a sense of normalcy at home as they battle the most serious illnesses. So far, The Let It Be Foundation has brought comfort, hope, and joy to families throughout Southern California, and is now in the process of expanding its presence nationwide.

To pass on the meaningful lessons she learned from living with Karla’s cancer, Ruthe also wrote Never Give Up: How to Find Hope and Purpose in Adversity (Cypress House, Sept. 2011), a brave story of faith, hope, and joy in the face of the unimaginable. The book follows Karla’s cancer journey and her unwavering optimism, inspiring readers to turn pain into purpose. Proceeds will benefit families served by The Let It Be Foundation.

 

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