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 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.
What do a frozen tire and a frozen mac-and-cheese pizza have in common? Other than them both having a Pac-Man sort of thing going on in that picture collage, they were two important plot devices in today’s story.
Let me back up to where the story actually begins, with Mommy quietly waking up at 8:03 AM. She had let me sleep in; I had stayed up until past midnight writing yesterday’s letters to you.
“Nick… something happened to my tire. I just looked out the window. It’s flat. What do we do?”
It’s been a while since I’ve had to change a flat tire to a spare to get it down to the nearest tire store… probably a dozen years, but for some reason, I tend to think most clearly first thing in the morning and late at night. (Evidently my head is just in the clouds for most of the day in between.)
The nearly brand-new tire for Mommy’s car got a nail in the side of it, and overnight, it froze after it flattened.
As it began snowing, you watched me through the front door, making snake shapes out of your Thomas the Train track against the glass.
Thank God this happened on the one day of the week where it didn’t really interfere with our family’s schedule. Had this happened any other day than Saturday morning, it definitely would have been quite annoying and offensive us getting to work and school, or at least church.
Lucky for you, Mommy and I let you pick out a toy car while the tire was getting replaced. You chose a green 1963 Aston Martin, by the way.
(Not to self: Always buy the extended warranty on tires from Firestone… We only had to pay 20 bucks to cover taxes and a re-up on the warranty. Brand-new tire and labor, $20.)
What could have been a really bad day, where I wasn’t able to change the flat to the spare to drive it to the tire store, meaning we had to pay for a tow truck or something, and where I didn’t fork out the extra cash last time for the extended warranty, we would have lost hundreds of dollars today.
Instead, only 20 bucks.
Plus, you got a very special treat for lunch once we got back to our house. I couldn’t have planned it this way, but yesterday, Annie’s Homegrown had someone personally deliver one of their new Macaroni & Cheese pizzas for you to try.
And by default, you have become an unoffical poster child for them.
(We’re even trying to work it out where we can visit their headquarters in Berkely next summer when we visit Mommy’s side of the family in Sacramento.)
So, unsurprisingly, Annie’s Homegrown chose you as one of the first kids in America to review their new Macaroni & Cheese pizza. I kept a little notepad handy to document your thoughts on it:
After seeing Mommy pull it out of the oven, you proudly proclaimed, “I’m going to eat all of that pizza!”
I should point out that you didn’t know you were doing a food review, so I found it pretty interesting that on your own, after you finished the last bite, you provided solid and definite feedback that I didn’t even ask you for:
“Daddy, I like this new mac-and-cheese pizza you got me.”
So I think that pretty much sums it up for the folks at Annie’s Homegrown and for the other curious kids across America who heard about that new mac-and-cheese pizza:
Jack liked it!
Since I was already recording everything you were saying, I want to remind you of the last thing you said before I stopped writing it all down:
“No Huggies, no kissies, ’til I see that wagon bean!”
(That’s your verson of the 1986 hit by The Georgia Satellites, “Keep Your Hands To Yourself.”)
The highlight of my day, though, was going back through the pictures of today’s events and seeing the parallel pictures, comparing me changing and rolling the flat tire in the morning to you changing and rolling your “brown tire” (the base of a papasan chair) later in the afternoon.
It wasn’t a coincidence you were doing that.
Yeah, that pretty much made my day, kid.
Disclaimer: The food mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Annie’s Homegrown, for the purpose of reviewing.
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.
Our family cares about buying organic and non-GMO foods.
To put it lightly, I’m personally not a fan of Monsanto.
In fact, I recently (jokingly?) referred to them as the antichrist and GMO foods as the mark of the beast:
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” [Revelation 13:17]
A good amount (that’s an understatement!) of the food bought or sold in America is GMO and not organic.
What’s the different between non-GMO and organic foods?
To put it simply, non-GMO (“GMO” stands for “genetically modified organism”) means that a company (like Monsanto) has not synthetically interfered with the seed of the food to fit a uniform, worldwide model.
If the food is organic, it means that chemicals and additives (like pesticides and fertilizers) were not used in the process of the food being grown.
Yes, a food product can be one without the other. I think of it this way: “Non-GMO” refers the the seed, “organic” refers to what happens to that seed once it is planted in the ground.
So how can we know which of our foods are both non-GMO and organic?
We’re definitely not waiting on the government to force companies to label their products…
Instead, we’re paying our respects (and money) to the food brands out there who not only have organic and/or non-GMO products, but who are smart enough to label their products that way, so that families like us know to buy them.
We’re not putting our blind trust and health in the hands of companies who use chemicals and synthetic modifications to “make” their foods.
We prefer our foods the way God intended them to be, instead.
And by now, enough people are passionate enough about this, like we are, that it’s getting easier to identify the labels for non-GMO and organic.
So we look for the “Non-GMO Project Verified” logo with the butterfly and the circular USDA Organic logo. We try to buy those options as much as possible.
We can’t stop non-organic, GMO foods from being sold. But we can certainly choose to buy the alternative. By alternative, I mean, the original.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
And now here I am writing about food we don’t eat.
Of course, my point was that when do we talk about politics, religion, and food we don’t eat, it should bedone in a way that’s inclusive, not exclusive. Plus, it has to be a conversation with someone who is already curious or open-minded enough to want to hear what you have to say.
I suppose anyone who has read the title “Non-Dairy, Plant-Based Options For Eggs, Cheese, Milk, & Butter” wants to be here, so I’m going to give this a shot.
As a quick refresher, it was about 4 and a half months ago that, sort of accidentally, I refrained from eating eggs or dairy for a weekend.
It was no coincidence that my severe sinus pressure, which had plagued me constantly since 1992, disappeared. Not to mention, whereas I used to be horribly allergic to cats as well, I can now pet and hold a cat without sneezing, coughing, itching, getting watery eyes, or having a headache for the rest of the day. Plus, I used to regularly get severe sinus infections with congestion and fever… that’s all gone too.
I don’t know the science behind this, I just know it’s been true for me. Needless to say, I have continued not eating eggs or dairy since that random, fateful weekend.
That had to be a bit challenging for Mommy at first, as you can imagine, because that meant she had to rethink all our meals, as well as which ingredients we kept in our fridge and pantry.
But Mommy is great! She has totally embraced this lifestyle change, and now, both you and Mommy are more non-dairy and plant-based as well.
The biggest help for her was a food blog called Oh She Glows. What a lifesaver! It has been really good about helping us understand the non-dairy, plant-based alternatives for the ingredients we use to depend on.
So, since our family’s meals are made without eggs, cheese, milk, or butter, what do we use instead?
I see this question asked frequently on Facebook, as several people I know have children with food allergies.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for what we do for these following American food staples:
Eggs in dessert: Applesauce or chia seeds.
Eggs for breakfast: Avocados.
Dairy milk: Rice milk and coconut milk. (I’m not loyal to a certain brand for either.)
Cheese: Avocados, unsalted cashews, or unsalted sunflower seeds.
Butter: Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread Original, which is non-dairy and plant-based, consisting of a natural oil blend from palm fruit, canola, soybeans, flax, and olives. Not to mention, it’s also non-GMO and gluten-free.
Since you and Mommy still do consume some eggs and dairy, our meals are constructed in a way that eggs and dairy can be added to the meal if desired.
Okay, then, that’s how our family survives without eggs and dairy. Any questions?