I guess, honestly, I’ve known this about myself for nearly three years now. But it took this long to work up the courage to come out of the closet. Plus, I didn’t want to deal with the label of it and the usual assumptions based on stereotypes.
However, it would be pretty hypocritical of me to deny who I am as a person based on my own preconceived ideas of people who are just like me.
So here at the very end of 2011, I am ready to show the world my true colors. For the most part, they’re green:
I am a practicing vegetarian.
This is 7 Steps to This Dad Becoming a Vegetarian, not 7 Reasons Why You Should Become a Vegetarian. This is simply the story of my journey to “meatlessness.” By all means, this has been a slippery slope of a process. Perhaps an alternative title to this should be 7 Things Not to Do If You Want to Continue Eating Meat for the Rest of Your Life.
Here’s how it happened:
1. I watched the documentary Super Size Me. It didn’t make me immediately stop eating fast food, but it did cause me to question the quality of food I was putting in my body and realize the connection of America’s obesity and our Western eating habits.
2. I married a health nut. My wife, who is from northern California, hadn’t eaten fast food since 1999 when she got an ice cream cone from the drive-thru at McDonald’s. Call it love or call it intimidation, but I stopped regularly eating fast food. It helped that she was making us healthy meals which I could have the next day for lunch instead of going to Subway or Wendy’s like I had been.
3. I stopped eating processed foods. The reason for this is that I developed eczema on my hands. My skin disease got to the point where I could barely type, which is unthinkable for a blogger! I learned that whenever there is “no medical cure” for something, it means to change your diet. So I stopped eating processed foods; anything in which sugar is added. I even stopped drinking fruit juice; and for the first time in my life, actually started eating real fruit instead on a daily basis.
4. I watched the documentary Food Inc. Though I knew that meat came from living animals, I never considered the actual process of slaughter or even worse, factory farming.
5. I went kosher. Many people thought I converted to Judaism when I cut out pork and shellfish from my diet; but a kosher diet, along with cutting out processed foods with added sugar, caused my my eczema to finally disappear!
6. I stopped buying meat to cook with. By the time my wife and I had gotten used to the no pork and shellfish thing, not to mention only eating whole grain pasta and bread (no more “white”), our bodies didn’t crave meat as much. So we only ate meat when we went out to eat over the weekend. In essence, we were “weekday vegetarians” by this point. After about a month of this routine, the only meat I even wanted anymore was fish.
7. I read the book Eating Animals. During my very first book giveaway here on The Dadabase, one of the winners was a cool guy named Mike Mitchell. I’m not exactly sure why, but he went through the trouble of mailing me a copy of Eating Animals. It is my opinion that reading this entire book is the point of no return. By the time I was halfway through, I had already made up my mind.
Will I ever eat meat again? Sure. If I it were my only source of nutrition and there was no other option in order to survive, yes I would. I would even eat a pig, which isn’t kosher.
If I was stranded from a plane crash in the Andes Mountains and had to eat the corpses of fallen human beings, I would, if it meant I stayed alive to see my family again. (This is a reference to the actual events portrayed in the 1993 movie, Alive.)
I guess the real question is whether, like a lot of vegetarians, I eventually will become vegan.
But an even more important question is how my wife and I will raise our son, concerning the consumption of meat. As for now, he doesn’t like meat anyway. I seriously wonder though, if I will let the pressure of social expectations cause us to allow our son to eat meat when we won’t eat it ourselves.
I’m still sorting that part out right now. I don’t want to be labeled as the wacko guy on Parents.com who deprives his kid of hormone-injected, factory farmed meat from animals who are so physically weak and unnatural that they can’t even reproduce sexually. (Further explained in this clip below.)
Fun Bonus Thought!
If nothing else, becoming a vegetarian this year has answered one of my life-long questions: What are Vienna sausages made out of?
After learning that most pigs are castrated because Americans don’t like the taste of pork with that much testosterone, I know of at least one ingredientnot found in Vienna sausages.
Though I wasn’t born and raised in Nashville, my wife and I met, married, had our first child here. I am one of the biggest Nashville fans there is. I love this city! Therefore, I feel honored to share with you today why you should move your family to Nashville; that is, if you’re considering a new city to move your family.
With a population of 601, 222, Nashville is the 25th largest city in the United States; sandwiched in between Washington DC and Denver, Colorado; both of which contain a nearly identical population. Some people say that Nashville is the biggest small town you’ll ever visit. It’s a perfect mix of big city opportunities, open-mindedness, and Southern hospitality.
Here are my top 8 reasons to raise a family in Nashville, Tennessee:
1. Financial opportunities. The cost of living is decently low and the job market is pretty big. I had no problem getting a very good job straight out of college, as did my wife. Then after moving away for 8 months when our son was born, it was no problem to return back to our former employers. Granted, we have wonderful employers; but still, it’s a land of opportunity here.
2. Central location. Nashville is located in the middle of Tennessee, which is tied with Missouri for being America’s most border-friendly state; they both border 8 other states. From Nashville, you’re close enough to the rest of the South, yet still in close proximity to lower Midwestern states like Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. An eight hour drive from Nashville in any direction can get you all kinds of places.
3. Cultural diversity. I’m the kind of person who thrives by being around different people and cultures. In Nashville, I’m never too far from someone with a last name I can’t pronounce or spell. I have noticed that over all, the collective accent here is a watered-down Southern one; comparable to Louisville, KY. We have the largest US population of Kurds (around 11,000); not to mention an impressive Jewish population for a Southern city. Yet there are still no Jewish Country music stars… Unless Taylor Swift’s last name is really Stein. (It’s not; I checked.)
4. Health-consciousness. Everyday on the drive to work, I pass several runners and bicyclists, whom I assume are preparing for Nashville’s Country Music Marathon. When it comes to finding healthy food, you’re not limited to fast food joints with yellow and red signs to subconsciously try to get you to slow down and stop there. As far as grocery shopping, in addition to a large Whole Foods Market presence here, it’s pretty easy to find a Publix, where kosher-abiding, lenient vegetarians like my wife and I can easily find what we need to plan our meals.
5. Friendly people. Anytime I’ve ever heard an outsider talking about their visits to Nashville, they always comment on how friendly everyone is down here. I’m not saying you won’t get flipped off in after-work traffic if you cut someone off; it’s not a utopia. But over all, people are genuine here.
6. Social opportunities. No doubt about it, living in Nashville means you’re always on the go- because there’s a lot going on here; in a good way. In addition to the financial opportunities, there are endless social opportunities here. It’s the kind of place where if you have trouble making friends, it’s your own dang fault.
7. Moderate climate. Nashville is hot in the summer and cold in the winter; yes, it actually snows here. But it’s never too hot or too cold for too long. Not to mention, the land itself is beautiful. The downside: Nashville is not kind to allergy sufferers. If you’ve never had allergy or sinus problems before, you probably will once you get here.
8. Religious community. We are often cited as the”Buckle of the Bible Belt” as well as the “Protestant Vatican.” It’s easy to find a church as huge or as tiny as you like. Of course, the ease of finding a like-minded religious gathering isn’t limited to just Protestants. My Catholic mother-in-law had no trouble finding a Mass she enjoys when she visits here. Accordingly, if you are Mormon, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, or Muslim, you’ll also easily find a place to worship.
If you will be visiting Nashville soon, leave a comment on The Dadabase Facebook wall and I’ll be happy to help you plan your weekend according to your family’s tastes.
Despite being 33 minutes long, “180″ reached over one million views in less than its first month on YouTube. The extremely engaging video consists of a Jewish man asking people on the street whether or not they would have killed Adolf Hitler if they had the chance. Then he follows up by asking if they would have killed Hitler’s mother while she was pregnant with him.
Eventually the people are asked to finish the sentence, “It’s okay to kill a baby when…”.
“180″ shares the interesting comparison that over 11 million people (not just Jews, but also homosexuals and children with Downs Syndrome) were killed under Hitler’s direction, while over 53 million babies have been aborted since abortion was made legal in the United States back in 1973.
Back in August, I published my most controversial (and 2nd most popular) Dadabase post to date, entitled “The Half Abortion: Only Keeping One Twin.” Since then, it has received comments on a nearly daily basis. Why? It asks some deep, yet relevant questions.
We all like to think of ourselves as good people; that if there is a Heaven, we will be good enough to make the cut. By asking these deep, difficult, and controversial questions, it makes it easier to decipher the differences between “good” and “evil.” If Hitler is the obvious worst person who ever lived, then who’s with him?
Is it legitimate to compare the Holocaust to legalized abortion in America?
I am very curious to hear your thoughts on this. Of course, it will be pretty hard to take your comment seriously if you haven’t actually watched the entire video. So now I invite you to go deep into some serious stuff here with me today.
In 33 minutes, leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.
*Warning: Video contains some brief, disturbing images.
Until this year, I never realized how close the first day of Autumn (September 23rd) and the first day of the Jewish New Year (sunset of September 28th) are to each other on our calendar. While the greenness of Spring symbolizes a new beginning for many, it is the Fall season that has always best represented newness of life to me.
Yes, there are the more obvious images of Autumn that make us feel good: the scorching heat of Summer finally dies, Starbucks brings back their pumpkin flavored drinks, our favorite TV shows premiere their new seasons, and the glory of American football becomes inescapable. Sure, we have to suffer the upcoming time change, but there’s a certain calmness and quietness to the Fall season that charms me every year.
This Autumn is especially like a new year for me. After nearly a year without it, my family is officially back on insurance again through Vanderbilt University- that gives me such a necessary peace of mind!
And within the next week or so, we will be moving back into our townhouse. (We’ve been staying with good and gracious friends since we moved back to Nashville in July.)
My son will turn a year old in November; so the Fall season will transform my infant into a toddler. And a few weeks before his birthday, we will finally get to see him in his awesome Halloween costume… a sea otter! (Random enough?)
As if it wasn’t obvious, Autumn is (and always has been) my favorite season. So as Nick Drakes plays on my iPod in the background, I proudly sound my imaginary shofar in celebration of a particular new year.
If we were restricted to only see the world in terms of science, where would love fit into that picture? I guess it could be said that love, along with all other human emotions, is ultimately necessary for not only procreation but also the desired human interactions that help move us forward as a society. Carpenter ants and sea horses do not need to feel anything emotionally in order to survive and multiply, but we humans, being much more complicated, are not devoid of personalities or the need to feel needed by others. We need love.
So somewhere in the evolution from fish to ape to man, love randomly showed up in the genes and proved to be fit for survival? It sounds pretty miraculous to me…
That’s why, along with the Jewish actor/political commentator Ben Stein (The Wonder Years and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and the Christian actor/evangelist Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), I am a devout advocate of Intelligent design.
In other words, I reject the popular and politically correct theory of evolution and/or The Big Bang Theory. Instead, I believe that man was literally created by God, from dust, as it is explained in the book of Genesis- in six literal 24 hour days.
What about dinosaurs, though? After all, men could not have survived alongside vicious, giant lizards.
Interestingly, The Book of Genesis explains that in the beginning, God gave the herbs and plants for the people to eat. It wasn’t until ten extremely long generations later (people lived centuries long back then) when Noah and his family exited the ark that God told mankind A) that animals would begin fearing man and therefore, B) that people should now starting eating animals as part of their diet.
Therefore, I believe for ten long generations, people and animals of all kinds coexisted, all living on a vegetarian diet. Radically, I believe the world is around 10,000 years old; not millions or billions. That’s just the Cliff Notes version of Intelligent design. Feel free to read another blog post I’ve written on it; or google “Intelligent design” to learn just how “out there” I really am.
Simply put, I believe that love is just simply too miraculous to have randomly showed up on its own. I believe that love did not evolve, but instead was created and given as a gift from God to man; so that man would share it. For me, thinking about love from a scientific perspective only points me to one simple idea: love is part of God’s intelligent design.
The love I share for my wife and son comes from God; not chance.
It has never been more appropriate than right now for me to give away a free copy of the brand-new, just released, children’s book, Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love.
The book seems to encompass the artistic sophistication of a classic Caldecott Medal winning book along with the multi-ethnic oneness of Sesame Street. It’s a nostalgic return to the good children’s books I read as a child growing up in the Eighties, but with a modern accent. I believe this book would especially be ideal for parents who have not yet raised their children in a particular religious household, but who are now more interested in doing so; the book would serve as a great transition into teaching them about God’s love.
Now, as to the one lucky winner who will be mailed a copy of this book, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post telling me how many weeks old my son Jack was when we gave him his first haircut. Make sure you send me an email (email@example.com) with your name and mailing address so I’ll know where to mail it.
Need a hint? Use the search box on the right side of this screen.
Excerpt from the back cover of Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love:
“Willie Juan and Ana’s home is always full of neighborhood children, laughter, and love. One day, while enjoying Ana’s most delicious sopapillas, Willie Juan asks a most curious question:
‘Little friends, what is one thing you think Abba will ask you someday when you are in heaven?’.
Through their answers, Willie Juan’s guidance, and a few giggles, the children learn that God cares about the details of their lives and that all good gifts- from hummingbirds to homemade sopapillas- come from Him.
This book will help kids discover how deep and wide and endless is the love of God. A love so BIG that no matter what, they will always be smack dab in the middle of it.”