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.
While it’s no secret that our family of three has been serving as advocates of the plant-based lifestyle for a couple of years now, what I haven’t mentioned is that for the past several months, my side of the family has been fiercely transitioning to plant-based life as well.
Your Papa (my dad) and your Auntie Dana (my sister) have basically been vegans since last Fall.
By default, the other family members have ended up finding themselves in this peculiar alternative lifestyle as well.
Even since Christmas when we spent several days there in Alabama with them visiting, there was no meat or eggs served in any of the food.
Two weeks ago when we visited everyone for your cousin’s birthday, Nonna (my mom) proudly showed us her new garden. Yes, the seeds are organic and non-GMO. And the fertilizer is simple, classic horse manure.
You even got to help plant some cucumbers. Nonna texted me a picture yesterday of them sprouting of the dirt. How cool is it going to be when we visit the family later and eat those cucumbers, knowing you were the one who planted them?
One of the ongoing themes you’ve probably noticed, when I write about food, is the importance of questioning where your food comes from.
As for the vegetables and fruits we will eat when we visit family, we’ll know for sure where our food came from.
I should point out that you and I, along with Spiderman, helped water the soil around the garden.
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.
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.
“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.