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Saturday, March 8th, 2014
3 years, 3 months.
Continued from Part 1…
A few weeks ago, I pitched an idea to an infographics company about creating an infographic regarding the the rise of veganism; specifically explaining how Netflix documentaries have contributed to this movement in America.
My goal was to have something to back up this letter, in advance, for my one year vegan anniversary; which is obviously today. To my surprise, they actually used my idea!
Even better, before I could even type this letter, I found that this “Rise Of Veganism” infograph that I pitched and contributed to, was already showing up on my Facebook feed from other people.
I take that as a major compliment that I could be involved in creating something that people are sharing right now on Facebook and Twitter.
(Good word gets around, before I can even get the chance to spread it myself, in this case.)
So I finally took a minute to actually check out the findings of this infographic.
Son, it turns out, I’m one in a million after all… literally.
There are now about one million vegans in America, or 2.5% of the population. This infographic shows that only 21% of us vegans are male, only 11% of us follow a major religion, only 33% are not political, and only 10% of us are raising our children to be vegan.
Those findings tell me that I’m the minority among the minority: Of that 2.5% of American vegans, I am a non-political, religious male parent who is raising his son as a vegan… or at least mostly vegan.
Clearly, I do not fit the stereotype. I realize now, that makes my veganism stand out even more in the crowd. Oh well, I’ve been living outside the box my whole life; I’m used to it.
Like I’ve been saying this whole time, I have no desire to convert anyone else; nor did anyone pressure me into it a year ago.
Yet, the conversions are still happening. That’s obvious, considering that the number of vegans in America has more than doubled in the past 3 years. There’s something that’s contagious about the “vegan gospel” and, for lack of a better phrase, the alternative lifestyle that accompanies it.
It has nothing to do with social pressure. In fact, it’s the opposite of social pressure. In my opinion, being a vegan is one of the most outright rebellious things a person can do in our society.
Especially if you’re a guy, who is supposed to like meat and potatoes. (Or specifically in my case, as a Southerner, of Italian and Mexican heritage… then it would be fried chicken, pepperoni, and queso.)
Your daddy is a non-politcal, religious vegan. Yep, that’s me all right, the perfect rebel.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
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Sunday, March 4th, 2012
Get used to seeing my son Jack in this suave, retro blazer, paired with a pumpkin-accented plaid shirt because as his dad, I’m going to get as many miles out of this outfit as I can while it still fits him.
This weekend we decided to dress him in my old jacket and shirt from when I was literally his age.
From a walk in the park to lunch at Kalamata’s Greek restaurant to a quick visit to the pet store, Jack was rockin’ the jazzy new-wave wardrobe.
Like most parents of toddlers, I am not willing to spend much money on clothes that my kid will grow out of in a few months from now.
But being that Jack’s jacket and shirt were free, because they were a gift for me three decades ago, he gets to be a baby fashion model for the time being.
In the Spring of 1981, right before I was born, my Italian great-aunt Margaret Metallo in Kenosha, Wisconsin sent my mom a yellow blazer with a “matching” shirt from Sears as a gift for her soon-to-be born bambino, Mario Eugene Shell.
Yeah, uh… that’s me. However, after I was born, my parents recognized that despite my mother being half Italian and half Mexican, I looked ”too white” to have such an ethnic name as Mario.
So nearly 2 hours after I was born, my parents officially gave me my name: Nicholas Shane Shell.
By the time I reached adulthood, my features got darker and I finally looked more like a Mario. Though honestly, I probably look more Jewish than anything.
And now I’ve got a son who’s even whiter than I ever was: Yellow hair to match the jacket and marble blue eyes to compliment it. Honestly, Jack pulls off the yellow blazer better than I ever could.
I think it’s safe to say that jacket came before it’s time: Ultimately, it would be another 30 years for the perfect little bambino to come along to legitimately model it for the world.
You’re welcome, Sears.
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bambino, Italian, Jewish, Mexican, Nostalgia, retro, vintage clothes, Wisconsin, yellow | Categories:
Growing Up, Nostalgia, Storytelling
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
Because my son Jack decided to take on the rare and formerly forgotten genes of his Norwegian great-grandfather on my wife’s side, it is pretty much expected now when people meet him that they half-jokingly respond with some form of, “Are you sure he’s your kid?”
Trust me; my wife and I both have almost wondered if there was some kind of mix-up at the hospital, but we know we never took our eyes of him the entire time we were there. Yes, we actually had to convince ourselves!
My kid is the poster child for what foreigners think the typical American kid should look like: Blonde hair, blue eyes, and porcelain skin. (I learned this back when I was a teacher in Thailand; I was once confused for another teacher who had these traits.)
So while everyday I try to squint hard enough to see how he resembles me at all, I keep in mind that not all of the traits he takes on present themselves in the form of physical resemblance. In fact, all I had to do was grab a pen and a yellow sticky note to come up with 5 ways my son reminds me of myself:
1) He loves being outside; getting deep in thought. When Jack gets antsy, I simply take him for a walk. I carry him in my arms around the neighborhood. He loves to feel the wind on his face. When I take him on these walks of solitude, he gets quiet and just takes it all in. So do I.
2) He thrives on meeting new people. Jack never meets a stranger. Last weekend we went to my new favorite restaurant in Nashville, an authentic Italian place called PortaVia. As we were waiting on our food, we let him walk around to nearby tables. Everyone who saw him pop into their frame just laughed with adoration, as if a cute little cartoon puppy had just appeared.
3) He gets angry when he’s hungry or needs a nap. Don’t try to make him laugh. Just feed him or get that kid a nap. He’s hard-wired just like me in those ways. My wife and I are always prepared with a bag of Cheerios and the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album for either event.
4) He can never eat enough bananas or pasta. Jack refuses to eat meat; mainly dining on some form of whole wheat grains or a banana. It’s almost eery how we both have the same food staples in our diets. The truth is, I’m actually a vegetarian who just hasn’t come out of the closet yet. (More on that in days to come…) Jack, however, is more confident in his identity.
5) He has very sensitive skin. Just like me, neither his soap nor shampoo can contain sodium laurel sulfate- we break out in rashes if we use the normal stuff. And I’m sure that just like me, the same thing would happen if he ate shellfish or too much sugar. Jack inherited the eczema gene through our Mexican bloodline.
Yes, the outdoors-loving, people-person, angry-when-he’s-hungry-or-sleepy, pasta addicted, Burt’s-Bees-soap-using kid is my son. Just remember, though, he is the white sheep of the family.
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Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
My Mexican grandmother, Lola Mendez Metallo, has always been one funny grandma, though not necessarily intentionally. Like the way she has always prefaced her jokes with “I’m gonna tell you a joke…”.
Or the fact that she literally managed to see the movie Dirty Dancing a total of 37 times when it originally came to theaters back in 1987, though she never learned to drive a car.
Not to mention the way she always found a way to delightfully sprinkle our holiday dinner conversations with mentions of the most recently escaped prison convicts she had heard about on the radio. Classic.
Plus, I’ve never known anyone more intrigued by angels. I remember how when the TV show Touched by an Angel was still on the air, she would never miss an episode and had a talent for relating every life situation back to the most recent one she had seen,especially if the episode had anything to do with an abused animal. (Her favorite show in the ’80′s was Highway to Heaven, which was also about angels interacting with humans.)
Here recently, I have been thinking about her a lot. I know her health has faded more drastically since my Italian grandfather passed away over three years ago. It’s one of those things where I know that she could just one day never wake up; or she could ultimately be here for several more years. In either case, I am consciously aware of the fact that her time on Earth is especially limited.
It’s an interesting (and sad) perspective; to know my grandma may be in her final months, yet everyday I watch my young son grow up a little bit more. I see one life coming to a close and another just getting things started. It’s a constant paradox in my head.
Knowing her time could be soon, I’m literally dealing with her passing, now; before it even happens. People deal with death differently- I guess I deal with it prematurely, reminiscing her life while she’s still here to answer questions I still have and tell her I love her several times in every potentially last conversation I have with her.
I know she’s going to love finally joining the angels she has talked so much about, but I really would mind hearing a couple more of her jokes; especially if she tells me up front that I’m about to hear a joke.
It can be easy to write off human interactions with angels as tall tales, but according to the Bible, we entertain angels unaware. Today, someone will win a free book called Angels, which helps explain the interactions of angels in humans’ lives, backed up with Biblical stories and references.
If you would like a free copy of Angels mailed to your house, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post, then within 60 minutes, send me an email (email@example.com) including your name and mailing address.
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1980's, angels, cancer, death, dying, grandmother, grandparents, Health, Mexican | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Health, Nostalgia, People, Spirituality, Storytelling
Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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:
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“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.”
book, children's book, Christian, Creationism, ethnic, evolution, faith, Genesis, God, Intelligent Design, Jewish, love, Mexican, science, Sesame Street | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Must Read, Nostalgia, Spirituality, Storytelling