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.
Nick Shell Yes, I’m no longer allergic to animals, nor do I get sinus infections, or really even produce mucus anymore, nor do I get sinus pressure, nor does my skin break out; not to mention, I had to get a weaker prescription for my glasses because my eyes improved. Most of these changes for the better occurred after only 48 hours after nixing dairy and eggs.
Ben Wilder Thanks Nick. Hi everyone my name is Ben. If you told me a year ago I wouldn’t be drinking dairy milk and eating cheese, I would’ve said you’re the next big comedian. But it’s true. Going on 3 months now, I’ve eliminated dairy from my diet and my allergies are gone… so far. I was taking a Zyrtec pill every day. Not a few times a week or here and there… it was every single day. I can’t speak to the long term benefits of this change… yet. But you can sure as heck bet that I’m a firm believer already.
As you can see from this Facebook discussion, I am passionate about casually making it common knowledge that sinus and allergy issues are related to consuming dairy and eggs.
Thanks to my many mentions here on The Dababase about my victorious battle with dyshidrosis and sinus & allergy problems, random sufferers of the same issues I once had are now taking me up on my offer to “Ask A Vegan Anything.”
Maybe one day, it will be considered ridiculous that junior high and high school sporting events are sponsored by soda companies.
Or that McDonald’s is a huge sponsor of the Olympics.
Ultimately, it all comes down to getting people to question what’s actually in their food. You wouldn’t normally eat weird chemicals that are linked to cancer.
But with processed foods, that’s unavoidable.
Some of the guys at work like to joke that the 2011 version of me looked “a lot heathier.”
I guess that depends on a person’s definition of healthy.
All I can say is that life without processed sugar, artificial sweeteners, meat, eggs, or dairy is a life without eczema, sinus pressure, or allergies.
This is the version of me you will always know. I have no motivation to ever go back.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
For Memorial Day weekend, we took a road trip in the Sante Fe SUV to go to your cousin Calla’s 3rd birthday party. I should point out, that by default, you had to become a Brony for the afternoon, since you were surrounded by two other 3 year-olds, who both happened to be girls.
One of them, was of course, your cousin Calla.
The other was, well, only your best friend in the whole world: Sophie!
She moved away back in February, but it turns out, where your cousin Calla lives in basically the half-way point between where Sophie moved and where we live.
As expected, you and Sophie picked up right where you left off.
Needless to say the three of you had a great time. It should be a given that when in the presence of our family, things will be fun, random, and unique.
And so they were.
The party got started off right with an inflatable castle, a rocking horse, and a playground underneath the Alabama pines.
After the three of you burned off some energy in the fresh air, one thing led to another, and the next event became a visit down into the storm shelter.
Yeah, because that’s normal…
It is with us, at least. After I closed the hatch, I stood above you all, on ground level, pretending to be the “Big Bad Wolf,” howling through the ventilation pipe.
You guys cheerfully stayed down there much longer than I would have expected.
After all, with the exception of the little bit of light shining down from where I was standing, it was otherwise completely dark in the storm shelter.
I suppose there’s something about hanging out in a storm shelter that makes you crave munchies, because up next, the three of you had vegan vanilla cupcakes at the Friendship Is Magic table.
Meanwhile, we adults dined on vegan French toast and vegan quiche as well.
Because if things weren’t quirky enough with our family, you better believe that our plant-based lifestyle extends beyond just you, me, and Mommy…
What comes next after the snacks and birthday cake? The presents!
We got Calla a tutu, while “Uncle Owl,” who is my Uncle Al (pictured in the storm shelter picture, flashing a peace sign) presented Calla with the gift that earned the title “Most/Least Creatively Wrapped Gift.”
Throughout my whole life, he has always been known for buying us nice gifts, and a lot of them… and wrapping them in newspaper.
This time, though, he decided to mix things up.
He “wrapped” Calla’s largest gift by placing it in a large black garbage bag.
Calla didn’t seem to notice the humor, she was just so happy to be getting a kid-sized Disney Princesses sofa.
I think you missed the “unwrapping” of the sofa, because Sophie’s daddy was taking turns bouncing you and Sophie on the giant exercise ball in the living room.
Just imagine had we known what all was going to happen at Calla’s party in advance.
Imagine if the invitation would have arrived in the mail, proclaiming this:
“Come join us to celebrate Calla’s 3rd birthday!
We will be playing outside in a jumpy castle, riding a rocking horse, hanging out in a storm shelter, bouncing on a yoga ball, and we will try to figure out what’s underneath that garbage bag.”
Yep, just another all-American birthday party for a 3 year-old girl.
All the standard stuff you’d expect to see… in our family, at least.