Posts Tagged ‘ Health ’

The Difference Between Vegan And Plant-Based, Part 2

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

What you didn’t hear me talk about in the first half of this letter was animal rights.

A true vegan, from what I understand, would be more fixated on that factor of it. If I was a vegan by the classic definition of the term, I wouldn’t wear leather or take you to the zoo.

That’s because I’m what is being referenced to as a “new wave vegan,” a phrase I learned from Mike Thelin, the co-founder of Feast Portland, when he spoke to Forbes:

 “The new wave of veganism is more about health than animal welfare. For better or worse, this is why it will have more staying power.”

I jumped on board (with the help of documentaries on Netflix and YouTube including Forks Over Knives, Hungry For Change, Vegucated, The Beautiful Truth, Dying To Have Known, Supersize Me, and Food, Inc.) for health reasons alone, not animal rights.

Another way of labeling me is to say I eat a plant-based diet.

However, I don’t like the word “diet” because it could be construed that I am trying to lose weight or get other people to.

Weight loss is a natural side effect of being a new wave vegan, but by no means has it ever been my motivation.

Granted, I did lose over 35 pounds (from 178 to around 142) and 3 pants sizes (from 34 to 31). Actually, that part of it for me was sort of annoying and expensive because I had to buy a new wardrobe.

Another thing I do differently than a traditional vegan is that I’m not simply not eating animal products; I’m also not eating non-food products, as well.

One example is cellulose, which is actually wood pulp that is non-digestble by human beings. It can be found in bread, cheese, powdered drinks, spice mixes, and maple syrup, and a lot of fast food items; just to name a few sources.

And of course, there are artificial food dyes like Yellow 5 and Red 40, which are made from petroleum (when they’re not made from parasitic bugs, like Crimson Lake) which I run from too.

In other words, I eat nutritious plants from the earth, “the Big 6” (vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds), but not petroleum or sand or trees. I don’t know if an “animal rights vegan” would care so much about those things, like I do.

That helps explain why new wave vegans, especially, are so passionate about avoiding GMOs. If a food is genetically modified, in my eyes, it’s not real food and therefore, I don’t trust it.

Kudos to General Mills this week for announcing they’ve stopped using GMOs in their Original Cheerios. That’s pretty cool of them, actually.

And if food is not organic, either, I’m led to believe it contains traces and effects of pesticides, which are not plant-based food sources either.

I think something else that sets apart a true vegan from a person who is plant-based (or a new wave vegan, like me) is that while I am happy to explain my lifestyle to those who curiously ask about it, I have no desire to convert the free world.

By no means do I think I’m better than anyone else because of what I do or do not eat. Therefore, I’m very deliberate in attempting to not sound condescending when I talk about this.

Honestly, I don’t think a person like me could get the approval of PETA. I mean, sure I care about animals’ rights, but I care more about human rights.

I care about humans having the right to know the truth about avoiding cancer and disease, but only if they ask me about it or are curious to read an entire article I write about it.

Or at least watch any or all of the following documentaries on Netflix: Forks Over Knives, Hungry For Change, Vegucated, The Beautiful Truth, Dying To Have Known, Supersize Me, and Food, Inc.

 

Love,

Daddy

P.S. The pinto quinoa burger (in picture above) recipe Nonna used is from a blog called Goodness Green: Plant-Based Recipes And Wellness.

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

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Best Advice For Jay Z On Going Vegan For 22 Days

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

Today, rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur Jay Z has asked for my advice on his 22 day experiment with veganism, with wife Beyonce joining him.

Okay, well, I should clarify…

Jay Z isn’t asking for my specific advice, but he is asking his fans. Given that only about 2.5% of the American population identifies as vegan, I happen to be part of that curious minority who lives the plant-based life every minute of every day.

While I’m already witnessing on the Internet a wave of criticism for his decision to try out, and possibly stick with, the vegan lifestyle, I happen to be one of the few to actually have some good advice for Jay Z.

Because when it comes to being a vegan, I know what I’m talking about.

I’m not a heckler in the crowd who mocks veganism by saying, “We’re all going to die at some point, right?” Instead, I am a living science experiment for everyone to see.

This very week makes 9 months that I’ve been a vegan (an extremely strict one, too: no honey!) and 2 whole years since I’ve been a vegetarian.

Of course, my dive into the plant-based life was several years in the making, since I started out 5 years ago by going kosher (no pork or shellfish).

And that journey led me here.

So, if by some chance Jay Z happened to read this letter I am privately writing to you today, what would be my best advice for him?

Simplify it…

It’s not about what you “can’t” eat, it’s about what you can.

I break it down into the 6 “Vegan Food Groups” or what I call, “The Big 6″:

Vegetables, fruits, beans, grain, nuts, and seeds. As a vegan, you can eat as much of those 5 things as you want. And it doesn’t take long before you realize that those 6 things are so full of protein, fiber, “good fats” and “good sugar” that you aren’t left wanting for more.

Basically, and this is only my theory, being a vegan means your cholesterol intake is more than 0% (from good fats, like avocados, cashews, coconuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, etc.) but less than 1% (because of no animal fats). I think part of the reason vegans feel so much better after nixing animals products is because they are no longer experiencing another living (at one time) animal’s cholesterol and fat running through their veins.

Based on how much better I feel after having become a vegan 9 months ago, I believe the human body functions perfectly on more than 0% but less than 1% of the daily allowance for cholesterol.  (One large chicken egg alone equals way more than half of the daily allowance.) 

Yet, I don’t believe everyone should “go vegan.” It’s something you have to want in your heart, especially after having watched any of the following documentaries on Netflix:

Forks Over Knives, Hungry For A Change, Vegucated, The Beautiful Truth, Dying To Have Known, Supersize Me, and Food, Inc.

Also, it’s important to listen to your appetite. If you’re craving a big, fat, juicy cheeseburger, ask yourself what your body is actually craving.

A large cheeseburger contains a lot of (and by that I mean way too much!) protein and saturated fat.

So, out of vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, which have a lot of protein and fat?

Protein: Vegetables and beans.

Fat: Nuts and seeds. (That includes avocados, cocunuts, and cashews; all of which are in weird food categories.)

But after all that, you’re still craving something sweet, like soda or candy?

Well… how many servings of fruit have your had today?

Craving sweets is your body’s way of telling you that you need the nutrients of fruits, which are packed with “good sugar” (as opposed to Monsanto-drenched high fructose corn syrup) and fiber.

The bottom line is this, your body tells you which of the “Big 6″ (vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds) you need.

The problem is, if you’ve grown up with the Western Diet of eating highly processed foods, at first, your brain only knows to speak to you in the form it recognizes by experience.

So you have to retrain your brain on where to get the best source of the nourishment it’s actually wanting.

Granted, this means there’s no such thing as a “quick bite from the drive-thru” anymore.

In the likeness of how Dave Ramsay says you have to tell your money where to go or it will tell you where to go…

You have to plan your meals out days in advance. You can’t leave it up to the mercy of a busy schedule to dictate what and when you eat.

That’s why Mommy keeps a schedule on the fridge so everyone knows all week “what’s for dinner.” (Most of her recipes are from the flawless vegan recipe website: Oh She Glows.)

Anyway, that’s what I’d tell Jay Z if he happened to somehow be reading this.

But, hey, you’re my son, you live with me and know all this stuff already first hand. It’s “normal” to you.

Or, I should say… It’s a plant-based life for us!

Love,

Daddy

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

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

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Annie’s Homegrown Is America’s #10 Best Small Company

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Tuesday afternoon when I picked you up from school, your teacher Ms. Lauren directed me over to the current poster on the wall, featuring what you and your friends have been learning about this week.

The question was, “What do we buy at the grocery store?”

As always, you had the most random, confusing answer:

“Old MacDonald mac and cheese, apple squeeze things, fruit juice, pizza.”

By “apple squeeze things,” Ms. Lauren knew you meant fruit pouches (GoGo Squeez applesauce pouches).

But as for “Old MacDonald mac and cheese,” she had no clue…

I explained to her that Annie’s Homegrown makes a type of mac and cheese called Bernie’s Farm, which contains noodles in the shapes of rabbits, tractors, carrots, and cows.

That, to you, is “Old MacDonald mac and cheese.”

The only other peculiar answer I saw on the list was your friend Sophie’s: 

Spoons.

Yes, well, I guess sometimes you do have to get spoons at the grocery store…

Of all weeks for this story to be something I would write about, when I signed on to the MSN homepage today, I saw a link to the story, according to Forbes, “America’s Top 25 Best Small Companies.”

Annie’s Homegrown is #10 on Forbes’ list!

Do you know how happy that makes me?

I love it that a food company like Annie’s Homegrown, who is committed to saying no to GMO’s (and Monsanto) and petroleum-based food dyes (like Kraft uses) is able to be so successful in the free market.

The other thing I love is that there’s enough people in America who demand real food (that doesn’t contain mysterious and potentially harmful chemicals) so that a brand like Annie’s can be this successful.

This is such a beautiful case of supply and demand.

But most of all, the best part of this story for me is, you love Annie’s enough to mention it at school as one of the necessary staples that you like to buy at the grocery store.

You’re as passionate about Annie’s as I am! (Okay, so maybe you just like the way their food tastes and looks, and you’re not really aware of Annie’s “no GMO” policy, but still.)

That gives me one more reason to be so proud of you.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Non-Petroleum Candies Melt In Your Bed, Not In Your Hand

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

I imagine it’s pretty typical for parents to reward/bribe their child with M&M’s during the process of potty training.

However, we’ve watched a few too many documentaries on Netflix to let you eat candy that contains petroleum-based dyes, like M&M’s do.

Instead, we found that Kroger now has their own brand of healthier (and less chemical friendly) alternatives to classic favorites.

I don’t you want to end up like I did as a kid, suffering from anxiety problems and digestion issues due to food dyes that aren’t actually food.

After all, no one willingly chooses to eat petroleum… yet the FDA approves it as a food additive.

Just like with the beaver [body parts] in vanilla and strawberry flavorings

But Kroger’s brand, called Simple Truth, makes what they call “Candy Coated Milk Chocolate Drops.”

Basically, they’re M&M’s without petroleum and tar ingredients. Instead, they’re colored with vegetable juice.

So, the deal is, Mommy lets you have two of them every time you go potty… on the potty.

Saturday night, you convinced her to let you sleep with the bag, which only contained about 5 remaining candies.

Mommy trusted you not to eat the candy, but to simply hold the bag all night, like you do your monster trucks and trains.

And you did.

You woke up in a haze Sunday morning, as Mommy and I walked into your room after hearing you mutter something about cats.

There you were, wrapped up tightly in your blanket, with your arms tucked down inside.

As we unwrapped you like a stuffed burrito, we discovered the bag of chocolate candy, still clenched tightly in your grip.

Well, you didn’t eat them, just as Mommy trusted you wouldn’t.

But as you look at the comparative picture above, you can see that your candies melted to mush in the night.

Good thing we had another bag ready for you in the pantry.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Nashville Dad Attempts To Give Up Caffeine For Life

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

I should start off this letter to you with what I have as my current status on Facebook:

“In the past 5 years, I have completely and successfully given up pork, shellfish, processed sugars, then meat altogether, then dairy, eggs, and honey; more recently, all alcohol and carbonated drinks (which I only had in moderation anyway)… and all of that, was NOTHING… compared to my newest current challenge: Caffeine (and therefore, coffee). I have officially survived Day #1. I heard the first 5 are the worst. This is misery; suffering both physically and psychologically. Caffeine is a highly addictive, easily accessible, completely legal and unregulated drug that has got me in a powerful state of withdrawal right now. I shall overcome…”.

Yeah, that about covers it.

Our family drove home from buying groceries at Whole Foods today and all I could do was collapse on the floor once I walked in the door. You started to run over to me as if to tackle me. I had to say, “I’m sorry, Son. I can’t wrestle with you tonight. Daddy isn’t feeling well.”

You kept asking me why I wasn’t feeling well. How do I explain to a nearly 3 year-old that, without realizing it, Daddy has been addicted to coffee (in the form of one to two cups a day at work, then at least one Starbucks over the weekend)?

I was familiar with this sort of urban legend that Starbucks’ coffee has more caffeine than “normal coffee” you would make at work or at home. Mommy and I spent some time this week researching that claim. The best evidence was this recent article on The Huffington Post, called “How Much Caffeine Is Actually In Your Coffee, From Dunkin’ to Starbucks?

The story included this pictogram which pretty much clears it up for me.

Part of the difficulty that comes with removing certain food and drink staples from my life, being that I could now be labelled as a caffeine-free, alcohol-free, soda-free, kosher vegan, is the nostalgia I have to let go of. And that definitely is the case here with caffeine.

After all, the friendship between Mommy and me, that eventually led to us dating, was first nourished in a weekly Sunday night meet at Starbucks; which didn’t simply include coffee, but more importantly, caffeine.

I’m not banning Starbucks as a company or a brand. I admire their cleverness. They have found a way to capitalize on one of the most addictive and unregulated drugs in the world and get people to pay at least 4 dollars a pop for it. I respect that, as a Libertarian capitalist.

But as for me, I plan for that half a cup of coffee I drank at work Friday morning to be my last ounce of caffeine for the rest of my life.

I just hate the thought of being at the mercy of a food, drink, and/or drug. Instead, I’d rather discipline my body and bring it into subjection (Biblical reference); especially knowing that the process of detoxing from caffeine makes me feel like a drug addict.

That is how I feel, by the way. I am a drug addict going through a baptism-by-fire withdrawal period. It is brutal.

I can feel my nervous system under attack right now. I’m a little freaked out by it, to be honest.

While I am so happy to have you and Mommy here with me now, I have to admit it feels like the Smoke Monster from Lost is trying to win this battle with me this weekend. That is how I am portraying my withdrawals from caffeine addiction.

I wish I could be fully present with you this weekend in mind, body, and spirit, but I know I’m not me right now.

From what I learned thanks to the girl in the tea aisle at Whole Foods today, who is now caffeine-free, having been through this herself, it takes a solid 10 days to recover from a caffeine addiction, but the first 5 are the worst.

I can do this. Cold turkey, to be exact.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Top photo: Coffee Addict Concept, via Shutterstock.

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

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