Is it normal for a 3 and a half year-old to know that the human body does not require the protein or nutrients of animals in order to be healthy, as long as they can get those nutrients from plants (veggies, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds) instead?
I don’t think so. But you know that. And you learned it from me.
Of course, I learned it from the documentary Forks Over Knives, and also from the fact that I personally haven’t eaten any meat in 2 and a half years or any animal products (including eggs and dairy) for more than a year now.
Ultimately, am I brainwashing you?
And I’m okay with that.
Granted, if as you get (much?) older, and you just really wanted to have some meat, I would be… understanding.
However, few American children are like you, having never really eaten meat before.
So it’s difficult for me to imagine why a boy who loves animals so much, and who understands that proper nutrition can came from plants alone, would ever want to eat an animal.
The concept of “eating an animal” to you is probably just as bizarre as someone who eats chicken, beef, pork, and fish to suddenly consider eating monkeys or horses.
Oh well, I have to assume that if I am indeed brainwashing you as a parent, there are plenty of other forms of it out there too.
Asking the question of whether I’m “brainwashing” you is sort of one of those “morality is relative” issues.
Some parents teach their children to fear Democrats… or to fear Republicans.
Some teach their children there is a God, or no God; while others raise their children in an unpopular religion that other mainstream religions say is a cult.
For me personally, to officially cross the line of “brainwashing” would involve negatively categorizing a whole group of people for not believing what we do.
I have taught you that “soda makes people sick,” not that “people who drink soda are wrong.”
I have taught you that “we don’t have to eat animals,” not that “people who do eat animals are wrong.”
What I feel I am doing is teaching you why we live this way, but at the same time not teaching you to stereotype that majority of our nation who doesn’t believe the way we do.
Yes, you will be probably be slightly different among your peers; as you already are at your school, for being a vegetarian.
But here’s a secret, if you are indeed brainwashed by me, you’re not the only one who has been “brainwashed” in some way by a parent. In fact, find me a kid who hasn’t been; because I’ve yet to see it.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
Over three years ago when I started The Dadabase, we were a kosher family; meaning that we observed “the Jewish food laws of the Old Testament” (the Mosaic Law) regarding not eating pork or shellfish.
I had recognized that nixing the foods that the Bible had deemed as “unclean” helped my eczema (dyshidrosis) from getting worse. I began understanding why pork and shellfish were considered unclean; because like vultures and possums, they are at the bottom of the food chain.
So to consume the dirtiest animals for food, it was only feeding my disease.
One thing led to another, and by December 2011, we became vegetarians. You were so young that you never really ate meat to begin with.
Then by March 2013, I officially became a vegan; after discovering that my 22 years of constant sinus pressure, sinus infections, and allergies to animals were based on my consumption of the least amount of dairy and eggs. (I even had to get a much weaker prescription for my glasses after becoming a vegan!)
So for the record, since becoming a vegan, I no longer have eczema, sinus infections or allergy issues.
In the process of Mommy basically being forced to become a vegan chef for our household, you and she are almost vegans as well now; by default.
Meanwhile, it has been interesting to observe the gradual social acceptance level of our family’s plant-based lifestyle.
I have been told that I was single-handedly depriving my family of the protein and nutrients we need. I should point out that none of us have had to go to the doctor since we adopted the plant-based lifestyle.
So it seems that is a good indication we are actually healthier since the change; considering we used to get sick and now we don’t.
But that was a year ago. The more people have heard my testimonials, the more it makes sense.
My friend Ben Wilder, who was taking a Zyrtec a day, became a vegan after hearing about our family’s switch to plant-based living, and he is no longer on his medication… because he no longer needs it.
It was my goal to make it common knowledge that there is an obvious connection between allergies (as well as my eczema) and going plant-based.
I feel I have reached my goal. I was never trying to convert anyone; just help people understand why we are this way and provide a way for them to join us if they wish, which is why I started my “Ask A Vegan Anything” series.
To my surprise, the questions I have been getting have not so much been from confused or accusatory people, but instead, from people who are sincere in their curiosity; who are willing to consider going plant-based at the chance of reaching similar results.
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:
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.
(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 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.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
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.