A year and a half ago, if I would have read a letter like this on the Internet, I would have read it only out of curiousity, but I would have instantly scoffed at the absurdity of it. In fact, about a month before I become a vegan, I remember saying this to a co-worker:
“Vegans are idiots. They are crazy because they are deprived of protein and vitamin B12. They’re not healthy.”
My severe eczema (dyshidrosis) is forever gone. Not one sign of it even coming back. That’s the biggest thing, but wait, there’s more…
I no longer produce any white or yellow mucus, which now I realize, was the cause of the several sinus infections I got each year from 1992 to 2013.
Similarly, the constant sinus pressure I had for those 21 years also vanished… just two days after I became a vegan. My allergies to animals have completely disappeared as well.
Here’s another grandiose claim for skeptics: My eye doctor was amazed a few months ago when I went in for a check-up.
“How in the world have you been wearing these glasses?! These are way too strong for your eyes. Way too strong. Have you undergone any major lifestyle changes?” she asked.
After explaining that I had become a vegan, she was not surprised. It was not the first case of this she had seen: Eye sight actually improving, after a person becomes a vegan. At age 32, your eyesight typically doesn’t just get better on its own like that; it gets worse.
The absense of animal products in my bloodstream, or as I’ve pointed out before, consuming more than 0% cholestrol but less than 1%, because in my findings, it’s basically impossible to consume more than 1% of your daily cholestrol with plant-based fats alone, causes my body to feel more… balanced.
It wasn’t long before I had no desire to drink alcohol anymore. I’m not saying we don’t have a bottle of red wine in our pantry, but I am saying it’s interesting how it just sits there in the corner, all alone and neglected. I guess Mommy uses it for cooking now.
Similarly, I completely gave up caffeine as well; realizing that it is the world’s most unregulated addictive drug in world. Life is great without coffee, actually.
I realize now the only reason I ever needed coffee to wake up every morning was because I was addicted to coffee: Circular reasoning is all it ever was.
However it’s not only my life that has changed because of my decision. I’ve never pressured you or Mommy to be like me in my “plants only” decision. But I’ve noticed Mommy stopped buying cow’s milk, period. (You two were both already vegetarians before my vegan conversion.)
She now gives you almond milk with dinner, instead of cow’s milk; and uses almond milk to make your mac-and-cheese.
So while you and her aren’t completely vegan, an ounce or two of cheese per week is about the only thing keeping the two of you from being 100% like me.
I will always respect your choice in regards to whether you ever decide to eat animal products. Granted, this is all you know.
By now, I’ve written several letters to you about veganism already, explaining what our family eats to get proper amounts of protein, fat, and nutrients.
But why? How is the invisible sun (reference to the song by The Police) causing this movement across the country, affecting us normal people who don’t wear hemp underwear or throw red paint on people who wear fur coats?
“Netflix documentaries” would be my personal number one answer; though several of them are available for free on YouTube, as well: Forks Over Knives, Hungry For Change, Vegucated, The Beautiful Truth, Dying To Have Known, Supersize Me, and Food, Inc.
These days, mainstream society is able to be educated, at their own will during their own free time, and learn that despite what we are taught our whole lives about nutrition, the human body does not require the meat, milk, or dairy products of another animal and species in order to be healthy; as long as there is regular access to what I have named “the Big 6” (vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds).
Especially this past decade, I’ve witnessed big companies capitalize on “the hope” of a cure for cancer, by spreading/selling awareness to consumers; while their products often contain carcinogens- which are actually known to cause cancer. (As explained in the Netflix documentary, Pink Ribbons, Inc.)
As these “Netflix documentaries” teach, elaborate studies like The China Study show that people who completely, or nearly completely, eliminate animal products from their bodies dramatically (!) reduce the chances of getting cancer and diseases.
It’s like this: When you stop eating animal products, you “turn off” the cancer cells in your body. But eating animal products empowers the cancer cells.
But it’s not just about avoiding cancer and disease. After all, any heckler in the crowd can just say, “Who cares? You know you’re just going to die anyway, right?”
True, but I am a guy who had extreme psoriasis for a decade… and constant sinus pressure and sinus infections for over two decades… and was very allergic to cats… and then saw all those problems go away after becoming a vegan.
Now that I’ve explained my personal motivation for becoming a vegan, I want to explain what didn’t entice me to become a vegan, in the second half of my letter.
Here’s the most flattering picture I’ve ever taken of you. (Sarcasm.)
There you are in the back seat on Saturday afternoon, indulging in a vegan chocolate cookie from Whole Foods Market.
You didn’t seem to notice there were no eggs or dairy in your cookie. All you knew is that for some reason, I was letting you pig out on a treat which you didn’t have to earn by going potty at the house.
As for the reason the cookie was vegan, that would be because, well… this is me officially coming out of the vegan closet.
I have suffered from severe allergies and sinus problems since 1992, when I was only 11; I’ll be 32 next month. But a week ago I decided to see what would happen if I stopped drinking milk with my coffee.
About two days into using coconut and rice milk instead, I noticed that my constant sinus pressure cleared up.
Then I became addicted to that version of life. It’s been 21 years since I’ve breathed so easily and have been able to think so clearly. The fog in my brain has lifted, in more ways than one.
I decided that if it meant going vegan (no dairy or eggs, in addition to no meat) to continue my heightened state of well-being, I would be willing to make the appropriate lifestyle change. Watching the documentary Vegucated on Netflix solidified my decision.
Granted, our family has been vegetarians for 15 months now. So I’ve been living an alternative lifestyle this whole time anyway. Here it is; the last picture of us together before I became a vegan. The following day I would become even weirder.
Just to be clear, the vegan thing is just for me; not for you or Mommy.
You don’t like eggs. You don’t like milk. But you’ll eat cheese and yogurt so I want you to keep enjoying them.
Or at least I should say, enjoy them while you can.
I’ve already learned that you and I have basically the same medical issues. The only reason you and I don’t currently still have eczema is because A) I make sure that none of your soaps or lotions contain sodium lauryl sulfate or artificial dyes and B) other than special occasions, I deprive you of processed sugar; even 100% fruit juice.
So don’t be surprised in about 9 years when you turn 11, that you’ll suddenly get this sinus pressure that gets worse at night and any time the weather changes. It will feel like you desperately need to blow your nose, but there’s nothing there when you try.
Son, I hope the best for you. I hope you haven’t inherited my severe allergies and sinus problems, but if you have… at least you’ll have a vegan dad to help teach you have to live the peculiar life of no eggs or dairy, in addition to no meat.
Having kept off the 25 pounds I lost in 2009, it’s weird to look back and see a “beefier” version of myself.
That picture you see is from September 2008; just a few months after Mommy and I got married; back in the days before I had to change my lifestyle to combat and eventually get rid of my dyshidrotic eczema.
Those were the days before I ate actual fruit; instead I was drinking fruit juice, which increased my intake of processed sugar and stripped the fruit of its crucial fiber content.
Those were the days I was still drinking low-fat milk, which actually promotes weight gain; instead of exclusively drinking whole milk like our family does now. (I tested this out on myself and documented it online for any doubting Thomases.)
I wasn’t drinking 3 liters of water a day to help wash out the toxins I’m exposed to on a daily basis.
Only a few people said anything about it to me, back in 2009: “Hey, you’ve gained some weight since getting married, haven’t you?”
But as a guy, I wasn’t really concerned about gaining weight. Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed anything if it weren’t for the constant headaches, digestion problems, rashes all over my body, noticeable acne, and blistered, swollen hands.
It wasn’t until I lost 25 pounds and got down to the proper weight, that my health problems seemed to just magically disappear.
If I could narrow it down to one main thing I started doing differently that made the biggest difference in improving my health, and as a side effect, losing excess weight, it was that I started doing everything I could to avoid processed foods.
In other words, I stopped counting calories and started reading ingredients.
Most popular diet programs seem to be based on the idea that once you run out of your calories for the day, you have to stop eating. That means that it’s okay to eat a fast food burger, fries, and a soda for lunch, but you may not be able to “afford” a healthy banana with dinner.
Interestingly, our family never counts calories, nor do we refrain from eating when we’re hungry. The secret is, there are a lot of ingredients we won’t eat.
When we’re buying groceries, the first thing we look for on the front of the package is “No artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup.”
All of those ingredients make the product a red flag for it being a highly processed food.
That would explain why finding a good yogurt brand for you is a bit problematic. I’ll be writing to you about that tomorrow…
We also check out the daily percentage for the sugar content and sodium content, which explains why we avoid granola bars and soup.
Another red flag is any food that has the word “diet” or “light” in it. We just say no to mysterious chemicals.
While a diet soda doesn’t contain the sugar content a normal soda does, if nothing else, it distracts us from the drinking enough water for the day.
Why are we not constantly craving foods full of fat and sugar? Why are we not constantly hungry?
Here’s the secret: We capitalize on the good fats, good proteins, and good sugars.
Good fats and proteins include nuts, avocados, seeds and minimally processed dairy products; as opposed to consuming more than 4 to 6 ounces of meat per day, depending on body weight.
Good sugars include whole fruits and whole grains; as opposed to sweet tea, soft drinks, sugary coffees, cake, candy, and white bread.
Because we build our snacks and meals around the good foods, not their evil counterparts, we are able to give our bodies the natural nutrients they need and crave.
This is the life you were born into, Jack. You have Mommy and I as parents. As you get older, it may seem we are depriving you of the good stuff.
Just remember, we learned when you were an infant that you have inherited the eczema from me. So if we don’t keep you on the straight and narrow, it will lead to a life of pain, discomfort, and frustration for you.
We live this way because we care about you.
P.S. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, nor do I have a product or program to sell here. I am just a dad who happened to learn this stuff through trial and error; using myself as a Guinea pig.
Everything I have shared with you today was simply what I taught myself from the process of trying to figure out the cure to eczema.
Again, I have been eczema-free since 2009. I am very eager and willing to respond with any other readers of this letter who have more questions about anything I have mentioned here today or want to learn about more additional ways to cure eczema.
This week there has been a lot of negative buzz going on about a writer for Vogue magazine who reacted to her 7 year-old daughter’s obesity by placing her on an unforgiving, calorie-counting diet. (At 4 feet, 4 inches tall, her daughter weighed 93 pounds, placing her in the 99th percentile for her age; about 30 pounds overweight.)
I’m not even going to try to be neutral on this subject and end this article with, “What you do think, readers? Did this mom do the right thing?”
Because it’s this simple: The way this mom handled her daughter on a diet was illegitimate and a horrible example for her daughter. I’m not questioning her moral character, but her technique; because I believe it needs to be questioned:
“I once reproachfully deprived Bea of her dinner after learning that her observation of French Heritage Day at school involved nearly 800 calories of Brie, filet mignon, baguette, and chocolate. I stopped letting her enjoy Pizza Fridays when she admitted to adding a corn salad as a side dish one week.”
And I know, in American’s modern day parenting culture, it’s taboo to criticize another person’s parenting style; especially a woman’s, especially coming from a man’s perspective, especially in regards to dieting.
But I don’t care. Here’s my beef:
Weiss would restrict her daughter from enjoying birthday cakes at parties. She would not allow her to eat dinner if she had already consumed her daily amount of calories for the day. And then when he daughter finally lost the weight, she was rewarded her with new dresses.
Yikes. Not cool, Zeus.
I am extremely against counting calories in the name of losing weight. It sends the message that it’s okay to eat lunch from a fast food drive-thru as long as you make up for it by only eating celery sticks for dinner. That’s not a healthy approach.
It places the emphasis on “not being fat” as opposed to actually caring about being healthy. It focuses on superficial image instead of quality of life.
So what’s the magical alternative?
Nix soda and drinks with sugar added. Instead, drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Replace all white bread and pasta with wheat.
Reduce meat intake to 4 ounces per day.
For snacks, cut up actual pieces of fruit.
Make a point to include fresh vegetables in every dinner.
Whenever you’re hungry, eat; granted that it’s included the items listed above.